The beast of all Olympic lifts?
It gets a lot of good and bad press.
Is it good for you or is it bad for your back?
Well, in my opinion it all comes down to intelligence.
Always lift within your means and always use a progressive strength training program that allows good technique, control and conditioning.
The main issue for deadlifts is that not many people are practicing good form and they tend to lift too heavy too early in their fitness development.
The key is to develop a level of training and understanding that allows you to build the necessary experience to get better at what you are doing.
This takes time and is reliant on your ability to execute numerous lifts and repetitions at light weight before you progress to the heavier weights
Always allow your body to adapt to the resistance and then seek to undulate and progressively increase weights when you feel you are ready, physically and mentally.
Keep your ego in check.
Lifting heavy does not make you any better at lifting.
Experience makes you better.
Life is better when you are lifting however I feel that everyone can take on some cues and tips before trying any of these Olympic lifts.
Please follow the following guidelines.
- The difference between ignorance and stupidity is lifting too heavy, too early and allowing ego and time to dictate your attitude and your results. Intelligence and patience will always be the preferred method. Your integrity is only as good as the longevity and functionality of your training.
- Respect the weight and imagine the load is your 1RM. Let’s say it is 150KG. Your attitude must resemble that of the heaviest load. This will teach good habits when you do in fact lift heavy.
- Grip the bar just outside the legs to make it travel the shortest distance. Allow room for your knees so they can track appropriately along the line of the foot and big toe.
- Novices often take too wide a stance and too wide a grip.
- Do not do deadlifts under any form of time pressure until you have experience and even then is it really necessary?
- The deadlift is a push/pull skill. Not just a pull.
- Look at the deadlift as a singular repetition and then compile multiple reps together with an emphasis on quality.
- The lift of the bar should be in a straight line. Visualise this! The only thing that stops it traveling in a straight line is you. (Most commonly the knees at key points in the lift). Mid foot to the hip in this case should be a straight line based on your set up and weight distribution.
- Take pride in your technique and preparation to the skill more so than the influence of the ego of the load.
- Always do a ramp up set to prepare your body for heavier loads. Please see my “Intelligent Warm Up” post in the E4L blog!
- Your feet must simulate your vertical jump stance with toes slightly angled outward and your shins about an inch from the bar over the mid-foot. This can vary to the individual. Find your sweet spot.
- Your chest must be up, think what a “proud” chest would feel like, and your back must be flat (Neutral Spine) before you begin to drag the bar up your legs and into lockout.
- Think a strong downhill skier stance. A position of power! Not a squat!
- The deadlift is not a squat. Your deadlift form should not resemble a squat. Think: hips up, neutral spine and shoulders in front of the bar before setting up the pull.
- Take the tension of the load before you lift. Shoulders back.
- Take a big breath and fill your lungs up, not just for oxygen but to brace you midline, internally and externally. The air itself becomes a key element to your strength as it will create an internal tension.
- Lift with intensity and attitude and focus on what you are doing. Don’t look around the room as your lift.
- Push away from the floor and visualise separating the ground apart with your feet. Like we do with a ripple in the carpet. Once past the knees, pull and extend the hips.
- Complete the extension of the hips with a squeeze of the glutes. This is the finishing point. No need to shrug shoulders and no need to lean backwards. Just simply finish the extension through the hips.
- The bar does not need to go any higher. Do not pull your pants up! No need to bend your elbows at any stage for a deadlift. The bar does not go beyond your hips.
- Return the weight to the ground the same way you picked it up. Hips back (Flexion), into a point of a “Hang” and knees only come forward once the bar has passed the knee point. If the load is in the realms of 70% or more you can allow the bar to fall to the ground from the hang. Do this with your hands on the bar but give with the weight while maintain a good position and a neutral spine.
- The deadlift when lifting 80% or more load tends to be the first phase of the lift only. Touch and go lifting programs are for 70% 1RM or less. (Suggested for the general population and of course based on the individuals skill level, strength and understanding of the mechanics). Any multiple sequenced lifts in this zone are for experienced and confident lifters. Respect the weight!
- Do all the above and repeat. Do the volume with lighter weights. Practice the mechanics. Look at slow progression. Putting 5kg and 10KG plates on your bar is not considered slow progression. 2.5kg progression over a 10 day strength training cycle is sufficient. The nervous system will identify the difference. Your ego is not the boss here! Common sense. Get a coach. Take some film. Review and learn.
I hope this article brings you some added value to your training.
Let me know what you think below in the comments.