Many of us, including those who are otherwise physically active, spend ludicrous amounts of time sitting in front of a computer all day, the result of which is having hips that require a crowbar to unglue them. Having that in mind, it’s no wonder why so many guys can’t master the deadlift properly, as this great exercise requires a decent ability for both hip internal and external rotation, good hip flexor length and healthy, firing glutes.
Truth be told, very few athletes are truly qualified for performing a proper deadlift, as this wonderful feat also requires mobility in the thoracic spine and ankles as well. However, every athlete can improve at almost every dimension of their sport by simply improving their deadlift, and no matter how many times you’ve done it and failed – you can always do it better!
We often hear the mantra “squats work quads while deadlifts are more hip dominant”, but that’s not true. You can easily make either lift more quad or hip dominant, depending on your needs and goals.
Actually, you know what?
The deadlift is the best total body exercise in the world, working all muscles from your toenails to your hair, period. And you could never have a good reason (with the exception of injury) to avoid it! When it comes to muscle and strength gains, research shows that nothing can come close to deadlifting with good form and a proper workout volume. In addition, deadlifts train the spine to remain perfectly stable while exposed to ridiculously high shear forces, which makes people who perform them often look like some kind of superheroes. Deadlifting will spike your testosterone and growth hormone levels and stimulate protein synthesis in your entire body, powerfully train your scapula and rotator cuffs and turn every inch of your lower body into a heavenly muscular landscape.
Oh, and the commonly heard complaint “I don’t do deadlifts because my back is weak” is the stupidest thing a bodybuilder could utter. A weak or sore back is exactly the reason why you need deadlifts in your life and never a good excuse to avoid them! Sure, it can be tough and definitely requires extraordinary effort to be performed correctly, but believe us – once you get better at it, you’ll be able to unlock gains you haven’t even dreamed of.
In this article, I want to share with you 8 proven ways to increase your Deadlift while preventing injury. Let’s get started.
Now that we’ve made all of this clear, let’s move on to how you can improve your deadlift pull almost instantly and earn better form and stellar deadlifting gains. Follow us!
Enter the Perfect Deadlift
So, here’s how your deadlift should look like:
- Place your feet so that they’re slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.
- Place the bar somewhere between against your shins and at the middle of your foot. Your shoulders need to be in line with the bar or slightly behind it.
- Stand up tall with your chest out, take a deep breath into your diaphragm and contract your abs.
- Push your hips back (which is different than squatting straight down!) to move down toward the bar and arch your lower back, but keep your shoulders down.
- Place your hands on the bar with a double-overhand or over-underhand grip and squeeze it as hard as possible while activating your lats.
- Keeping your head in a neutral position, push through your heels to drive your body upward and slightly back as quickly as you can. Keep your elbows locked in place and your lower back slightly arched.
- Your hips and shoulders should move up simultaneously.
- Squeeze your glutes and push your hips as you approach lock-out.
- Break the lockout with the hips by sitting back just as you did while setting up.
- Keep the shoulders down and back and maintain the arch in the lower back.
- Once the bar is back on the ground (needless to say, but DON’T bounce it off the floor!), adjust your setup position if necessary and go hard at it again.
First of all, the initial deadlift setup is very, very important for the proper execution of the exercise. A common mistake people make here is losing the arch in their foot so that if flattens and gives them a disadvantageous position from the very start. Instead of letting this happen, you need to adopt an active foot and learn to get even weight distribution amongst three contact points of the foot: the big toe, the little toe and the heel. Then, you want to corkscrew your feet into the ground to enhance hip stability and set your hips up for optimal external rotation torque.
Furthermore, since the deadlift can be considered as much a pushing exercise as it is a pulling exercise, think of it as you pushing the barbell away from the floor by putting as much force into the ground as possible by making a “heel print in the floor”.
The Hip Hinge
The hip hinge (pushing the hips back) is crucial to a proper, powerful and maximally effective deadlift. In other words, as we mentioned above, you shouldn’t use a squat pattern when deadlifting, because this diminishes the effectiveness of the exercise – instead, learn how to hip hinge correctly once and for all and you can thank us later. Since the initial setup is essential for deadlifting huge weights with any chance of staying injury-free and making great gains, you need to pay extra attention to it. Set up right against the bar and push your hips and hams back as if they were trying to hit a wall behind them. You want your hips to be back a bit higher than usual.
After lockout, many beginners break it with their knees and bring their hips too low as to go into a squat. But the lower your hips are below optimal, the more they will have to rise before you’re able to lift the weight off the floor when you pull, which sort of totally kills the effectiveness of the movement, wouldn’t you agree? Instead of this, you need to focus on the hip hinge and push your hips back, feeling tightness in your hams and hips as you wedge yourself into something that looks like a half-squat position.
Instantly Improve Your Pull With One Tip
Here’s one simple and 100% effective tip that you probably haven’t heard before and it’s going to make you finally fall in love with deadlifts by improving your pull basically overnight.
SIMPLY TRY DOING YOUR WARM-UP SETS FROM A DEFICIT.
Deficit deadlifts are known as an amazing assistance exercise with increased range motion that will help you recruit more of the posterior chain and quads. However, since most people lack the required hip mobility to pull heavy weights from a deficit with a flat back, heavy deficit pulls won’t give best results for the majority of the lifting population. But guess what – light weights will!
Light weight deficit deadlifts can serve as a great warm-up that will loosen up your hips and enhance their mobility, help you keep your hips down, decrease the perceived difficulty of heavy sets, improve your mind-muscle connection and finally, help you get the most bang for your buck by teaching you the proper deadlifting biomechanics.
As a general rule of thumb, start with a one-inch deficit and work your way up over time as you deem fit. For valid practical reasons, try standing on a smooth metal plate or a four-inch aerobic step. You can add deficit pulls to any type of deadlifting program, so don’t be reluctant to try it out on your next session. Also, if you favor conventional deadlifts, you can use a snatch grip for your normal sets in order to increase the range of motion similarly to a deficit pull while giving your upper back some extra work.
You will work up just as you normally would, but pull your first 1-5 sets from a deficit, using light weights. The key, of course, is to keep your hips down on every set. Once your form starts to fall apart, you’re done – move on to your heavier warm-up sets and/or working sets. Start with only 1-2 sets and back this effort up with some mobility work whenever you have the time. As your mobility improves, you’ll become able to reap better gains from this method, and from your heavy working deadlift sets as well. Just make sure your form as good as it possibly can be, then go at it without any mercy!