The truth is that if you’re into building a respectable level of strength you just about can’t ignore the deadlift. The deadlift is versatile and can be executed in a number of different styles. Regardless of this when pulling the standard deadlift there are some simple tweaks we can make to our technique to significantly improve it and to achieve more lean muscle and total body strength from this powerful lift.
Fine Tuning Your Deadlift…
First of all, in my experience in coaching I’m always having to cue finer movements in my students in order to communicate how to achieve the result that I want from that student. Obviously when it comes to the deadlift this is no different, but in addition to technique there are also several other things we want to look at improving so that we can demand more from this movement.
Heavy And Not So Heavy
Trust me when it comes to pulling that heavy barbell off the floor with the plates clattering there is a visceral feeling that seems to capture our hearts and minds. I get it and I love lifting heavy. However, some people tend to go overboard and defeat the purpose of a quality heavy lift by doing more weight simply for the purpose of moving the heavy weight…and with this the concept of quality goes right out the window.
Going heavy is great as long as going heavy with quality is the objective. We can still go heavy, but getting used to handling a submaximal intensity with a flawless level of execution is going to serve a trainee much better in the beginning. A simple tweak to a trainee’s approach may be to just back off the higher intensity for a minute and focus on lifting a submaximal intensity.
Training our grip is also a vital element in the process of improving the deadlift. When observing your average gym rat many will tend to suit up with all kinds of accessory wear to assist them with pulling a heavy deadlift.
For instance, you’ve probably seen a lifter spend 10 minutes or so preparing to make a lift by first wrapping the knees, putting on a belt, and tightening the lifting straps before pulling that bar off the ground. Granted there is a time and a place for some of this, but I’m also a big believer in training for raw strength.
I mean if I can’t lift a heavy bar off of the floor without the assistance of lifting straps then my priorities are all wrong. As a coach I want my trainees to develop a healthy level of grip strength by learning to deadlift while being dependent and capable with their grip. Obviously we can train our grip in a number of other ways as well, but this is a simple tweak we can make to improve our grip strength. For once just put the straps down and grip the bar for a change!
On the other hand, if you like unique ways for training your grip then practice doing some palm grips with a medicine ball, a Bulgarian bag, thick ropes, or even with fat wooden log like this…
Bending The Bar
Bending the bar is a unique coaching cue that I like to communicate to my trainees when they go to lift the bar off of the ground during a deadlift. If you’re an experienced lifter then you can certainly visualize this as you imagine yourself in the beginning stages of the lift starting to pull the bar off of the ground.
It’s at this moment that I like to cue my students to try and bend the bar around their body as they pull it off of the ground. Naturally in the deadlift we want the bar to be as close to our bodies as possible as we pull it off of the floor. This close distance ensures that we have a solid base of support and that we’re not falling forward during the pull.
The purpose of the cue to bend the bar is to get the lifter to pack the shoulders and to activate the lats for greater support. With the deadlift it’s easy to focus on the leg drive, but the biggest support of the movement comes from being able to demonstrate control over the bar by making sure the upper body is fulling engaged during the lift.
Increasing Force Production
Increasing force production is a vital part in being able to execute a quality deadlift. Of course to get better at the deadlift we should deadlift, but there are some specific tweaks we can implement to get better at producing greater force and enhancing our leg drive.
To start, I also like to perform partial range of motion (ROM) deadlifts in the rack. Partial ROM deadlifts, or rack pulls are great for loading up a lot more weight for a heavier pull. Since we are only pulling the bar from just above the knee to the lockout position the ROM is much shorter. This enables us to pull a much heavier load and with the heavier weight comes greater force production.
Of course we want to make sure our upper body is fully engaged by bending the bar and that we are essentially pulling at the top of the deadlift ROM. With the added intensity of the heavier weight we can better train our bodies to produce a much stronger pull.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so then don’t be shy about posting up in the comments below. Also don’t forget to take advantage of getting your BRF discount for your own customized blend of WellPath Solutions. To take advantage of this you just need to apply the code AMBRichey at checkout! Just click here below to get started with your consultation. It only takes about 10 minutes tops!
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