If you’re looking for a quick fix stop reading now. If you’re looking for a secret exercise that’s going to add 50lbs to all your lifts then this blog isn’t for you. If you’re looking for someone to hold your hand and do the work for you, I’m sure there’s a daycare center in your local area that will meet your needs.
I’m looking for people who want to learn the most effective ways to become better and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. I need people with that “wax on, wax off” mentality that “Danielson” had in the Karate Kid. No excuses, no whining, just shut up, do the work and have faith in the process. I’ll never lead you down the wrong path as it’s in my best interest to provide you with all the tools you need to be successful.
Now, let’s get down to business. If you’re still reading at this point, it means you are serious about making serious gains and eager to start waxing some cars (Mr. Miyagi was wise beyond his years).
you need that “wax on/wax off” mentality
The topic of discussion today is the mighty deadlift.
For anyone that is trying to pack on serious muscle and get as strong as possible, it only makes sense to deadlift and deadlift WELL! When performed correctly and when your body is dialed in, no other exercise will allow you to lift as much weight as a deadlift. Make no mistake about it, the deadlift may not be a highly technical lift but it gets butchered more often than not for a number of reasons including:
- starting with the hips too low
- initiating the lift with arms instead of the legs
- rounding of the lower back
- trying to squat the weight up
- weak hip extension
These are just a few reasons why so many people struggle with deadlifts and end up with all kinds of injuries. You aren’t going to be another victim though, you are going to be the envy of all your boys at the gym when they see the kind of weight you’re gonna be moving.
To become a master of the deadlift, there are some key areas you need to strengthen and develop including:
- Posterior chain strength – The lower back, glutes and hamstrings need to be strong as titanium if you want a big deadlift.
- Grip strength – Pulling big weight means you need need to have a strong grip to hold on to that S.O.B.!
- Upper back strength – Often neglected, upper back strength is critical to a strong lockout.
- Hip hinge ability – A solid and efficient hip hinge is what separates the men from the boys.
- Grit – To move big weight, you can’t have a casual attitude. You need to be able to dig deep and lift like your life depends on it.
To be a strong deadlifter, your technique should also be solid and effortless. You shouldn’t have to think too hard about your body position and what muscles you are using. Getting lots of practice at lighter loads will help to refine your technique until it just becomes automatic regardless of the weight.
Here are a few quick tips to perfect your deadlift form:
- keep your feet about shoulder width apart or slightly wider
- keep your hands just outside of your feet
- push your knees against the inside of your arms to help activate your hips
- look down and slightly forward
- pull the “slack out of the bar” before initiating the lift – this helps to engage the lats
- keep your hips above parallel with tension on the hamstrings
- lock your arms and flex your triceps.
- initiate the lift by pressing your feet into the floor and pulling simultaneously
- focus on using your hamstrings and glutes to extend your hips at the top of the movement.
- breathe out at the top of the movement.
Check out the video below to see what deadlifting like a boss looks like.
As well as refining your technique, there are also a number of exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles used during a deadlift. These accessory movements, as they’re sometimes called, are just as important as the deadlift itself if you want to move big weight. Here are some really effective accessory exercises that will help you build that brute strength that is so necessary for big deadlifts.
Bent over barbell rows – This exercise is one of the best exercises for upper back strength and muscle development. This will strengthen your lockout at the top of the movement. 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps will do the trick.
Russian kettlebell swings – The kettlebell swing is phenomenal for reinforcing the hip hinge. The swing requires you to explosively extend the hips using power from the glutes and hamstrings making this a natural carryover to the deadlift. The key is to use a relatively heavy kettlebell and swing it with lots of power to really strength that posterior chain. The Russian swing is the preferred option since it shifts the focus more onto the lower body rather than the shoulders with the American swing. Try 6-8 sets of 20 at the end of your workout and let me know how your hammies feel the next morning!
Farmer’s walks – There’s no doubt a strong deadlift requires a strong grip. Sometimes that can be the limiting factor when you start to approach failure. Farmer’s walks are hands down the best way to toughen up your grip. Mix it up with heavier loads for shorter distances and moderate loads for longer distance to build more endurance. Never let grip strength be the reason you miss a lift again.
Glute/Ham raises – This is a badass exercise. I’ll warn you, it ain’t for newbies. Lifting 75-80% of your bodyweight with just your glutes and hamstrings takes some serious strength. Elite powerlifters and sprinters swear by this movement. Start slow and try some negatives first until you can build up the strength to do full reps.
Deficit Deadlifts – To increase the difficulty of any exercise, simply increase the range of motion of that exercise. Deadlifting from a deficit will increase the eccentric loading of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings forcing them to contract with more force. You don’t want to go quite as heavy when working from a deficit but you really want to focus on keeping neutral spine and maintaining tension on the posterior chain. Reduce your load by 10-20% when working from a deficit. Throw these in every couple of weeks to shock the body and keep things interesting. Try 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps.
a couple of inches can make a world of difference
Hill Sprints – Does deadlifting make you a better sprinter or does sprinting help you to become a better deadlifter? Another case of the chicken and the egg I suppose. One thing’s for sure, deadlifting and sprinting go hand in hand. Sprinting is another great way to build strong glutes and hamstrings. Just another reason to quit jogging and build some impressive strength. Add in some workouts dedicated to sprinting and power development and watch your numbers go through the roof!
sprinting is excellent for the glutes and hams!
As you can see, the key to deadlifting like a boss is developing a strong posterior chain, grip strength, and upper back strength. Of course, good technique will go a long way as well. Getting lots of practice, build strength with these accessory exercises and you’ll be pulling double your bodyweight in no time!
You are now ready to do battle!
If you have any other questions about deadlifts, feel free to drop a comment below.
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