How to improve your deadlift

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June 27, 2014 by danfisher87

For me the deadlift is the most important exercise for strength building next to the squat. Deadlifts are a fantastic exercise and one that everyone should include in their strength training routine if you want to add quality muscle to your body from head-to-toe, strengthen your posterior chain, and increase athletic performance. There is no better exercise for working the hamstrings, glutes, the whole back, and grip, and for making you bigger, faster, and stronger. The pump and satisfaction you get from the deadlift is like nothing else.

But nothing is more frustrating than plateauing on the same weight over & over. What’s even worse is when the weight you deadlifted on your previous workout for 5 reps suddenly doesn’t even want to budge the floor. This is something I have experienced in the past and have noticed it is quite a common occurrence.

So here’s a list I’ve compiled of tips to help improve your deadlift.

1) Deadlift more

Seems obvious but the fastest way to boost your Deadlift is to Deadlift more. Many people decide that their deadlift will improve by doing more accessory exercises which it will but not as much as if you just keep deadlifting. Accessory work should definitely still be done but not as a replacement to deadlifts.

Because you’re not feeling as strong as last session don’t skip your Deadlifts to do other exercises. Just deload if you get stuck, and use the lighter weights to improve your technique.

2) Become a master of technique

Technique is the number one thing you should look at when you get stuck on Deadlifts. It doesn’t matter which grip you take wether it be sumo or conventional if your technique isn’t good you’ll develop weakness and / or injury, which is definitely something you want to avoid. However perfect technique will lead to stronger deadlifts and a much lower injury risk. Two things you definitely want.

– Your lower back should be in a neutral position because rounding your lower back can be dangerous particularly when lifting heavier weights.
– Your arms should be straight at all times. Bending them could lead to bicep tears.
– Your abs and lats should be tight throughout the duration of each and every rep. This will help to stop your lower back from rounding and keep your spine in a neutral position.
– Keep the bar close to your body at all times. If it moves away from your body you’ll put extra unneeded stress on your lower back and this will drastically limit the amount of weight you can lift. There’s a reason the best deadlifters have scars on their shins.

Deadlift Form

Deadlift Form

3) Warm-up Properly

Not everyone warms up, wether that’s down to laziness, time constraints or something else I’m not sure. However this is basically asking for injuries and doesn’t let you practice Deadlift form.

On the other hand I see some people doing around 8 warm up sets which is a complete waste of energy. If you have a 160kg maximum, here’s how a good workout could look, including warm up sets:

60kg x 5 x 2 sets (warm up sets)
80kg x 4 x 2 sets (warm up sets)
90kg x 3 x 1 set (working sets)
100kg x 2 x 2 set (working sets)
110kg x 2 x 2 set (working sets)
120kg x 2 x 1 set (working set)
130kg x 2 x 1 set (working set)

Pull every rep as explosively as possible, without sacrificing your form, we’ll move onto that point next.

4) Train Explosively

The faster you lift, the more muscles fibres you’ll recruit and the more weight you’ll pull. Lifting fast is NOT cheating, nor is it dangerous or bad for your joints as long as you control the bar and use proper technique.

Accelerate the bar from the floor as fast as you can. Way down should be slow to maintain control but not slow as such. Don’t be concerned if the bar speed decreases as the weight goes up – just lift with as much force to the barbell as you can. You have to pull your warm-up sets fast to be quick on your work sets, so don’t be lazy about this.

World renowned power lifter Andy Bolton spoke about explosive lifting saying;

“Let’s say you have a max deadlift of 400lbs – a respectable lift for a man weighing 200lbs. If I was training you in person, you’d do a ton of doubles and triples with 200 to 280lbs and occasionally we’d go a little heavier. Every eight to twelve weeks you’d test your max and only after a new max would you then increase your training weights.

Instead of maxing out, most of my training is done with sub-maximal weights, pulling doubles and triples as fast as possible, whilst always maintaining perfect form. Most training lifts should be around 60-70% of your max.”

Andy Bolton

Andy Bolton

Good luck with your deadlifts! If you find yourself plateuxing then check this article out and see if you can use it to make any improvement.

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