5 Tips to a Bigger Deadlift (Updated)

by May 1, 2015Blog, Muscle Gain, Strength and Conditioning

#1 Perfect the start position

This is essential to maximise power output and guard against injury, common mistakes here include;

-Hips too high, this puts unnecessary pressure on the lower back and hamstrings, and the deadlift is then limited by the strength of these muscles. There are some people I have worked with who’s biomechanics will just not allow a “textbook” start position but they are few and far between. Most people will improve their start position when their erector strength increases and they achieve better glue activation (I usually find there is an associated improvement in hamstring flexibility when this happens its worth mentioning )

– Shoulders pulled into protraction. If you have weak shoulder retractors you’ll struggle to hold a good position from which to pull from. This also seems to put more pressure on the grip strength of the athlete in my experience. If you are struggling to grip the bar between knee to mid thigh you might want to add in some pull-apart work, reverse fly’s and rows.

-Looking up- This shortens muscles in the upper traps and levator scapulai. Your chin should stay tucked (as if you are trying to push it into the back of your throat not rest it on your chest) until the top of the lift at which point you should look straight ahead.

#2 Take the slack out of the bar.

Creating tension through your whole body is essential at this stage of the lift. Get your armpits over the bar and pull against it slightly, this helps you to pull your hips into the pocket and pull you shoulder blades into a strong position, now your ready to lift.

#3 Know when to accelerate.

I want you to try something for me, take your middle finger and thumb of your right hand and “flick” the palm of your left hand (in a subuteo style for those of you old enough to remember)

Ok, now do the same thing only this time without the use of your thumb….

Notice the difference, the first flick was harder because you were able to accumulate force against the resistance of your thumb. Similarly you need to accumulate force against the bar before applying maximum velocity.

So, the take away message here is to take your time at the bottom of the lift in order to accumulate force, then, when the bar reaches a more advantageous position (approximately when the bar is level with the knee) put the pedal to the metal.

#4 Keep your lats tight.

The role of the lats in the deadlift is to stabilize and to hold the bar close to the body. Their contraction is an isometric one meaning there is little lengthening or shortening to speak of. This should be a consideration in warm up as the emphasis should be on activating rather than stretching the muscle.

#5 Change the visualisation change the result

It’s interesting to me that by changing the way an athlete visualises a lift you can change the movement and even the result. Changing the visualisation of the lift from a “standing up” movement to one where the athlete focuses on pushing the ground away similar to that of a leg press or hack squat has in my experience had a huge impact on the lift.

Another visual I use is to see the deadlift as a purely hip extension exercise, telling the athlete to brace the upper body and simply thrust the hips through to neutral. My hypothesis is these different visuals will have a different impact  on muscle fibre recruitment and both can be used especially when trying to break plateau.

The deadlift can be an amazing exercise for athletic performance, strength and packing on muscle. Do it right and watch the numbers fly up!

More plates more dates! Yuuupppp!!!


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