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Old 07-21-2011, 08:07 AM   #1
Tug Gibson
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Default How To Deadlift Like A Pro

How To Deadlift Like A Pro

Andy Bolton Strength: How To Deadlift Like A Pro

By Andy Bolton, the first man to ever Deadlift 1000lbs in a Powerlifting competition

Powerlifters and strength enthusiasts often ask me how they can improve their Deadlift. They nearly always want to know about how to train. I get asked many questions, including:

* How many sets and reps should I do?

* How often should I train?

* How long should I rest between sets?

* What percentage of my max should I use?

The questions about training programming are never ending.

And whilst all of this is important, the fastest way for most of these lifters to lift more weight is to improve their pulling technique. For that reason, I am now going to share with you exactly how to improve your pull by mastering your Deadlift form.

Here goes…
First, The Accessories: Shoes, Belts, and Chalk

Before you think about Deadlifting, the issue of what to wear must be addressed. Deadlift slippers or flat-soled shoes, such as Converse, should be worn. If you don't have either of those two, you should train barefoot.

I usually wear a Powerlifting belt when I train around 400 pounds or heavier. Bear in mind, this is only about 40% of my max lift. Every powerlifter needs to learn to use a belt, as it should add pounds to the bar and help prevent a back injury. I suggest that bodybuilders and non-powerlifters wear a belt if going over 70% of their one-rep max (1RM).

You may use chalk on your heaviest weights, over 80% 1RM (If you need it for anything less, your grip is most likely weak). The exception to this is on really hot days—when your hands are extra sweaty or slippery, you may use chalk on every set.

The reason for not using chalk until your top weights is simply because it builds better grip strength. This is important for powerlifters and many other athletes. Believe it or not, in my early days when I trained with strongman Jamie Reeves, I'd often deadlift using a bar that had no knurling at all, and I still didn't use chalk.

This made my grip very strong!
Next, The Deadlift Set-up

The set-up is the most important part of the exercise. If you get this wrong, no amount of correction during the lift can compensate, so pay attention.

Your feet should be no wider than shoulder-width apart, with the bar nearly touching your shins. Your feet can point straight ahead or up to 45-degrees outwards. To pull the biggest weights, you'll need to use a mixed grip with one hand pronated and the other supinated.

The alternative is to master the hook grip.

Your hands should be just outside your legs. Don't turn this into a snatch-grip deadlift by having your hands a long way away from your shins because you'll greatly reduce the amount of weight you can use. Your arms should hang straight down from your shoulders, with no bend at the elbow. Your arms will act as hooks, connecting the bar to your torso.

In the start position, your lower back should be arched and your upper back should be relaxed. This provides a safe position for the lumbar spine, while minimizing the total distance of your pull.

To understand the importance of this, think about how many average gym rats you've seen injure their lower back while deadlifting as little as 225 pounds. I bet you can think of quite a few, maybe even that guy you see in the mirror a few times a day.

I have never had a lower back injury, despite handling weights more than four-times that heavy. The difference is that I understand how to keep my lumber spine arched, while too many people let their lumbar spine round. This is a dangerous and biomechanically-weak position.

While we're discussing posture, your head position should be neutral, neither looking up or down. Generally speaking, this means you should be looking about six feet in front of you at the start of your deadlift.
Finally, Lifting the Bar

When you're ready to get the bar up with maximum efficiency and minimum risk of injury, the flex must first be pulled out of the bar before the plates leave the ground. To do this, think of trying to make the bar bend while it's still static.

You're applying some force to the bar, and then applying a whole lot more to actually get the bar moving. There should be no sudden movement or jerking. Do not snatch at the bar. Instead, focus on keeping your arms locked out, flexing the triceps, and generating total body tension. The bar leaves the floor with huge leg drive. Think of driving your heels into the floor.

Once the bar's moving, keep it close to your body. All good deadlifters have marks of pride on their shins. If the bar drifts out in front of you, it will put a lot of stress on the lower back. When you're using maximal weights, this can cause you to stall or miss. Even if you're using sub-maximal weights, the speed of the lift will be greatly reduced.

As the bar gets up to knee-height, the hips should push through to finish the lift. Again, the bar must stay close to the body. If you're doing it right, the bar will be touching your thighs all the way up to lockout.

To transition from knee-height to lockout, really focus on driving the glutes forward and trying to get your shoulders behind the bar. The lockout position requires the legs to be straight and the shoulders back, but this doesn't mean hyperextending the lower back, like many people do.

At this point, you've completed a deadlift. If you're just pulling a single rep, take a gulp of air into your belly and drop with the bar to the floor. If you're pulling for multiple reps, you'll need to lower the bar more slowly so the start position for your next rep is the same as the one before.

Something else to remember: Your grip should be solid as a rock and you should squeeze the bar as tightly as possible throughout the entire lift. Some lifters think that once the bar gets to knee-height, the lift is done and they relax their grip. This is a huge mistake, and often leads to missed lifts.
Summary: The Conventional Deadlift in 8 steps:

1. Wear flat-soled shoes and a belt (for your heavy sets at least)

2. Shins an inch from the bar and take a mixed grip

3. Arch your lower back, relax your upper back and keep your arms straight

4. Take the flex out of the bar

5. Initiate the pull by driving your heels into the floor

6. As the bar comes past the knees, drive the glutes forwards

7. Try to pull your shoulders behind the bar all the way to lockout

8. Squeeze the bar hard throughout

Alternatively, if you choose to pull with the SUMO STYLE... here is what you must do:

1. Wear flat soled shoes and a belt (for your heavy sets at least)

2. Stance-width and toe angle allow knees to track toes throughout the lift

3. Arch your lower back, relax your upper back and keep your arms straight

4. Take the flex out of the bar

5. Initiate the pull by forcing your knees out

6. As the bar comes past the knees, drive the glutes forwards

7. Try to pull your shoulders behind the bar all the way to lockout

8. Squeeze the bar hard throughout
Deadlift Technique: Conclusion

Use what you have learnt here to improve your Deadlift the very next time you set foot in the gym. Technique is the most important thing you must work on if you want to reach your strength potential and stay injury-free.

Indeed, it is very often true to say that one of the biggest differences between elite athletes and average gym rats is the quality of their technique.

So by making sure that your Deadlift technique is up to standard you will be one step closer to pulling like a pro...
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