So you want to know how to improve your deadlift?
If lifting heavy is your passion, then you'll probably appreciate how frustrating the relentless pursuit of adding weight to the bar on your deadlift can be.
Especially if your progress is stuck, or worse yet, you've noticed a steady decline in how much you can deadlift over the last couple of weeks. Man that sucks.
But I've got something that could not only get you back on form, but have you crushing personal bests and ripping the bar off the floor in a beastly fashion. But lets keep it real, there are no secrets. In fact these top 5 tips on how to improve your deadlift are pretty simple to do.
Want to know what they are? Well lets get cracking.
Deadlift Tip 1: Go Light or Go Home
This one is counterintuitive right? But it works. I see too many novice lifters lifting too heavy too often, like they are trying to lift their 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum) in every workout. If you are a natty (natural, drug free lifter) you won't be able to sustain this for long before your performance curve takes a nose dive. So if your deadlift has stalled, I'd suggest you reign it in.
I want you to bear this in mind, 1RM are for testing strength not for building it. So make sure you have a de-load week in your program every 4 -5 weeks, and structure your programming so that you are working at lower percentages ( i.e 40% -65%) as well as higher percentages within the training week or month. If you are unsure about how to structure your training program, get in touch or head down to Villain Barbell Club, we've got you covered. Until then think of it like this, Heavy (85%+ of 1RM) Medium (65%-80% 1RM) Light (> 65% 1RM). Now this is not exact, but it will serve you well. So if you a weight you would normally deadlift suddenly feels like it has been super glued to the floor, ditch the ego, go light or go home.
Deadlift Tip 2: Work on Your Pull
Overcoming the initial inertia and getting the bar moving is where some lifters struggle. Deficit deadlifts are a great way to develop power and bar speed that will help you blow your old personal bests clean out the water. Real talk.
So how do you do them? Personally I find 1 inch -2 inch deficits work well depending on the percentage of my 1RM. You can stand on bumper plates or wooden blocks, just make sure the surface is not slippery (the last thing you want is the block to come flying out from under you as you rip the bar off the floor). Make sure the surface can handle the weight and that you are safe.
Keep the reps and volume low (1 -3 reps and 1 -2 working sets). Concentrate on an explosive effort and driving through the legs (rather than just hinging from the hips or back) so that the bar accelerates rapidly. Deficits are a great addition to a periodised deadlift program. In my free ebook Raw Strength Wild Physique I cover the basics of a periodised program. [click here to check it out]
Deadlift Tip 3: Make It A Block Party
So bar speed is not something you have trouble with, but once the bar is approaching the knees you slow down. It's like lifting in quicksand. Your willpower is strong but your body is having none of it. You've failed at competitions or missed many a personal best because you can't lock out the deadlift. But if I know anything about you, is that you're not giving up. Block pulls could just be the golden ticket to get your deadlift flying past your knees with spectacular speed.
Here's how to do them. You can purchase specially crafted wooden blocks (or make them yourself) but I've seen lifters simply stack bumper plates on top of each other. Stack the blocks so that the bar reaches your current sticking point on the deadlift. Over the course of your program work different percentages of your 1RM, generally keeping it low reps (1 -3 reps) and low volume, you want to work on generating maximal force and muscle recruitment with good form.
Here's another thing, you can also just as easily do rack pulls if you have access to a power rack. Same principle applies. Set the pins to roughly around your sticking point and follow the steps outlined above.
Deadlift Tip 4 : Work On Your Mobility
You'd be surprised the impact poor mobility (or even excessive mobility) can have on your deadlift. Are you locked up in your thoracic region? Too mobile in your lumbar area? Do your hips have as much mobility as a block of heavy oak?
I spoke to Physiotherapist and Movement Ronin, Jonathan Lewis of Balance Physiotherapy in London. Jonathan Lewis is a physiotherapist and movement coach whose approach emphasises complete health and resilience rather than the narrow focus of rehabilitation. This was his take on it,
MOBILITY FOR PROGRESSION IN THE DEADLIFT
" However immobile and inflexible you are, you will be able to lift, but at what cost to your performance and lifting longevity?
Tightness not only leaves you vulnerable to a loss of structure and form as you lift – resulting in failure, injury or both – but it also creates additional resistance that you'll waste energy to overcome. This is akin to driving with the brakes on. Tightness is weakness.
To ensure progress and perform well in deadlift you need to:
You need to address your hips mobility in every direction they will move, your hips are incredibly vulnerable to the repeated stillness we are addicted to, especially sitting in chairs.
Include but don't limit yourself to:
Your body thrives on diversity and novelty, explore new moves and sequences involving the hips and trunk, don't become stale."
Deadlift Tip 5 : Squat
Pretty straight forward this really. Squat heavy. Stronger legs and musculature of the trunk can lead to a better push through the floor with your legs when you deadlift, equalling in you adding more weight to the bar. Make sure you factor in some heavy squats into your periodised program alongside your deadlift variations.
Now I invite you to try out one or all of these 5 top tips to improve your deadlift. But if you are not sold on the methods outlined in this article, there is another way. Dom Mazzetti over at Bro Science might be able to help you out with this one....maybe.