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5 Ways to Improve Your Deadlift

Love them or hate them, the deadlift is the exercise you can ultimately move the most weight on. And, if you're an egomaniac like me who loves to rip heavy poundages off the floor, then you're going to be looking forward to this article.

As we did in the Squat and Bench Press articles, here I'm presenting you with 5, quick, effective techniques in increasing your deadlift.

1.Increase Hip Mobility. ASAP

Let's be clear about something here. Unlike the bench press, where a subtle change in grip positioning can instantly result in more weight being shifted, the deadlift requires a bit more complexity and diligence. And where does this all start? Being a hip dominant movement, relying heavily on the posterior chain, we'll begin by tackling those rusty hips or not.

Mike Robertson, expert strength & conditioning coach, has strenuously emphasised how horrible hip mobility completely throws the deadlift out of whack for lifters from the start. Is it doing the same for you? It's plausible. But, warming the hips up thoroughly before a hip dominant movement, is common sense regardless, and it will give you the best possible platform to progress. So let's discuss a quick drill you should integrate into your warm-up that will leave your hip flexors feeling a hell of a lot better, as well as the whole hip capsule stronger. Follow this sample drill twice (once after the initial foam rolling) to get yourself started:

  • 10-15 rolls per leg (foam rolling) on the IT bands, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, pausing on adhesions and tight spots.
  • 6 fire hydrant circles rotating in both directions.
  • 6 rock climbers x each leg, stretching out far on the hip flexors
  • 6 cossack squats x each leg
  • 5 x diagonal squats x each leg
  • 8-10 leg swings and adductor swings in both directions

Listen, I can ramble on about hip mobility until time passes. If you think it's boring, there may be an element of truth in that. But before you rectify your lack of hip mobility, you won't be able to squat or deadlift heavy. That's a problem.

Just spend 4-5 minutes performing that drill twice, and you'll feel a million times better, be healthier, and stronger for it. I guarantee it.

2.Get Your Shins Close to the Bar

When deadlifting, we should be looking to increase the engagement of the primary muscle groups involved in the movement. Nothing plays a more integral part than a strong posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes, predominantly).

Want to know how to massively increase the involvement of these muscle groups during the movement? Get your shins as close to the actual barbell as possible. It sounds too simple to be true, but you'd be amazed at the amount of lifters neglectful of this component. Imagine going to lift a heavy bag of sand or rocks; to perform the act you'd almost want to roll it up onto your chest to support it. With the deadlift, the motion is essentially very similar.

Legendary barbell training guru Mark Rippetoe recommends. cutting your feet in half at the initial set-up. By this, he means when you look over the bar from the starting position, you should essentially see at least half of your two feet staring back at you. And, with your increased hip mobility pushing your ass backwards, with a neutral spine, you're in a good position to begin the lift.

3.Lead With Your Chest

Another common problem with the initial set up with lifters is that when they try to initially rip the bar from the floor, they round their backs too quickly despite believing they're incorporating hamstring and posterior chain recruitment.

There's no quick way to rectify this problem, but something that can help you significantly is to consciously think about keeping your chest elevated throughout the lifts which will ensure a neutral spine and neck position. So, after taking a deep breath into your diaphragm, rip the bar off the floor whilst pushing back hard on your heels and keeping the chest elevated throughout the lifts.

4.Drive the Hips Forward to Complete the Lift

I've seen a staggering amount of deadlifts fail in my time as lifters looked genuinely confused once they reached the halfway portion of the lift it's almost like they forget how to complete it once it's initially lifted off the floor.

The answer, lies within your hips and utilising that posterior chain we've talked so much about. With your chest up, the bar clasped in your palms, and the bar off the damn floor, you need to squeeze your ass hard (glutes), and then simply push your hips forward as hard as possible to complete the lift.

I can't overstate this enough. The deadlift is a hip dominant movement. That's why we need to warm them up thoroughly, and also why we need to utilise them fully to complete the lift. The power lies within your hips!

5.Lower the Bar Quickly

During the eccentric phase of the deadlift, too many lifters make the common mistake of lowering the bar slowly which simply depletes energy. Not only is this unnecessary when performing conventional deadlifts and detrimental to strength, it isn't exactly conducive to your long term gains.

The deadlifts are very heavily concentric in that they depend on an explosion of power to get the bar moving. Remember, the deadlift, overall, is a strength lift if you want to utilise them for hypertrophy, utilise Romanian deadlifts or another variation where the bar doesn't stop dead on the floor between each rep.

With this being said, lower the bar quickly to ensure you're not inflicting too much damage to the fibres within your body, exhausting your central nervous system, and taxing yourself too heavily for the rest of your workout (slow negatives on the deadlifts will rapidly deplete your phosphate system and overall energy levels). Deadlifts are a power movement this can?t be stressed enough.

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