training

Pull Bigger, Better, Heavier & Safer: 8 Tips For Improving Your Deadlift

April 07, 2016 David McAuliff

Without a doubt, the deadlift is one of the most effective exercises known to man.  Lifters who use deadlifts on a regular basis see muscle growth not only in their legs and back, but in their entire body as well, thanks to nervous system stimulation and growth hormone release. Strength gains made from this lift aid in many other lifts. If you want to grow, you need the Big 3 (squats, bench press, and deadlift) and deadlift is arguably the most important of the bunch.  It’s just you against the iron, a battle of wills. You pull the weight free of Earth’s gravitational pull and overcome the will of the universe… and you grow bigger and stronger at the same time!  Let’s check out eight tips you can employ to get more out of your deadlifts!

Power Positioning

Feet position has a great influence upon the results you see from the deadlift. If your feet are placed a too wide of a position, then your knees will be in valgus and suffering a great and unnecessary strain – while you’re underperforming on the deadlift. Your back will be too rounded, which can cause injury, and your hands will be too wide, eliminating any power of leverage they can exert upon this movement.  Determine your perfect #POWER position by bracing to jump as high as you an.  Now look down. You have just discovered the perfect leg position for deadlifts. You’ll enjoy optimum pushing and pulling power from using this foot position. 

Go Barefoot

Taking off your shoes and training barefoot (or in your socks) will greatly help to boost your deadlifting results. Alleviating a weight shift of the anterior, your weight will shift backwards and pull your glute and hamstring muscles into play on a greater basis. When training barefoot isn’t an option, you can always opt for the thin-bottomed Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, a popular choice among those serious about deadlifting!

Use a Belt – Correctly

Without a doubt, using a weight lifting belt can be the difference between reaching an all-time best personal record on the deadlift, and spending 8 weeks out of the gym nursing a strained back or worse, waiting for a torn muscle to heal. Smart lifters use belts for deadlifting – but brilliant lifters use the belt CORRECTLY! You should be incorporating a 360 degree of expansion position when putting on the belt – a 3D approach around the body which ensures the belly is not being crushed by the belt. You want the belly to be able to move as well as the back. Consistent tightening ensures protection of the entire upper body and doesn’t leave any particular muscle group unprotected or underutilized!

Mixing it up

Everyone uses the conventional deadlift… until they don’t. Over time, as your mastery of the deadlift grows, you’ll discover some variants of it are a good idea to help you continue moving toward achieving your goals, while at the same time continuing the great ongoing foundation that the deadlift provides. Trap-bar deadlifting gives you excellent control and protects the knees and back. Rack deadlifts eliminate some of the range of motion and allow taller lifters to fully muscle up the back without their leverage becoming a disability.  You owe it to yourself to experiment with these forms of the deadlift once a month to see if any advantages are to be gained. We’re all unique individuals, and we all result to the weights differently. 

Grip Wisely!

Much discussion as taken place as to which grip is best for deadlifting. Using the 2-overhand method is ideal for beginning lifters, and should be utilized as long as possible.  Once grip strength becomes a limiting factor and injury is possible, the time has arrived to move to an alternating (mixed) grip, with one hand over and one hand under. Alternate which hands are in the over and under position for optimal back muscle stimulation.

Heels to the Floor

When splitting up muscle groups, most of us are trained in the old “push/pull” way of thinking.  In this system, deadlifts are always placed into the “pull” category, using the mindset that you are pulling the weight off the ground. If you want to train heavier with the DL, and thus make better gains in terms of size and strength, you should consider moving the deadlift into the PUSH category. As you’re pulling the weight, focus upon your heels to PUSH them into the ground as you move up the weight.This will give you incredible bracing power that you’ve never seen before. Push your heels all the way to the floor as you lift, and watch how easy that weight becomes!

Click It!

As you start each repetition, achieve lat and upper back tension by “clicking” the barbell.  Make the barbell into a tool for counterbalance. Assume the deadlifting position, grab the bar, and lift it just a bit in order to get your chest up and the weight back. At this point, you’re in the position, you’re focused, and your body is promised to make that big deadlift!

Squeeze The Orange

Most bodybuilders and powerlifters do not know it… but at the very top of the deadlifting movement, there is a magic moment available in which the lifters can “squeeze the orange” and make greater gains. Simply put, the lifter should imagine there is an orange in their armpit. When they reach the top of the movement, when the bar is almost to the top, they should flex the muscles of the lats and upper back. The weight is there, and a great amount of force will be generated with the simple imaginary orange armput flexing. Bring those lats into play, then lower the weight and let the lower back do its fair share of the work again!

The deadlift is a game changer, available for lifters when they get serious about seeing gains. Use it not for week or months – but for years – and you’ll see a physical transformation which will be unmatched with nearly any other movement. Train consistently, use supplements wisely, rest nightly and eat plenty of protein… the gains you see from doing deadlifts correctly will be unparalleled!



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