While the deadlift isn’t as near as complex as the snatch or clean and jerk, it is a movement that I see a lot of mistakes happening in. I think the reason is because Powerlifting is a sport that is easy to get started on your own, whereas Weightlifting is much more difficult to start on your own. I wanted to make a brief post on some very easy tips to make your deadlift numbers go up and ways you can start implementing, NOW.
So, let’s get started.
1. Get Out of Your Tennis Shoes
If you are still wearing tennis shoes when you are deadlifting you need to get out of them immediately. Let me clarify what I mean when I say tennis shoes. I mean that huge comfy platform that your foot sits on that feels really good when you walk, but is super counterproductive when you are lifting weight. Not only does that comfy platform raise your foot and increases the range of motion the bar has to travel, it also provides a lot of absorption. Absorption can be good if you are running very long distances, but if you are looking to lift something heavy from the ground to your hip, not so good. When deadlifting, the goal is to generate as much force into the ground as possible. Where does that happen? Through the foot. So, if you want to generate as much force through the foot as possible you need little absorption of that force as possible. Wearing that comfy platform underneath your foot is limiting your ability to put force into the ground. Imagine swinging a bat and hitting a baseball compared to swinging a bat and hitting a ball made of sponge. Sort of a wild analogy, but you get the point.
Wearing a shoe with a solid surface area on the bottom and very little elevation as possible increases your ability to generate sufficient force into the ground, and decreases the range of motion the bar has to travel to complete the lift. Therefore, your ability to be deadlifting more weight. Deadlifting more weight means more strength gains and a happier YOU.
Shoe suggestions: if you are just getting started, the Converse Chuck Taylor’s are a great buy. They are cheap, super flat, and it is basically like wearing no shoe at all. If you are super new to deadlifting and don’t want to purchase anything to get started I suggest just taking your shoes off and lifting barefoot. Weightlifters who deadlift, I suggest pulling with your Weightlifting shoes.
2. Bar Placement / Weight Distribution
I see way too many people deadlifting like they should be cleaning and cleaning like they should be deadlifting. When you are setting up for a snatch or clean and jerk, the bar should be out away from the shin a little bit, shins pointing forward a tad, and weight on the ball of the foot. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SHOULD SET UP FOR A DEADLIFT. For a deadlift, you are trying to get the bar from the floor to your hip and that is it. The clean has different purposes, like getting the bar to your shoulders. So, before anything else, SEPARATE THE TWO LIFTS.
Getting back to the point, a deadlift should start with the weight back towards the heel and the bar up against the shin. Yes, the bar will scrape your shin, suck it up. The reason for this is because you want the bar to start right in the middle of your center of mass. That is how you are going to move the bar from point A to point B most efficiently. In the Olympics, did you see Usain Bolt run a straight line to the finish line, or did he zig-zag? Straight line obviously. This is the same route the bar needs to travel on a deadlift. Leaving the bar just a little bit out in front of your center of mass increases the distance the bar has to travel and the chance of that heavy weight not going up. Starting with the bar out on top of the ball of the foot and your knees over the bar is a sure way limit the amount of weight you are possible of lifting on the deadlift. The next tip goes over how to clean that up.
3. Shin Position
On the deadlift your shins should be as vertical as possible. Expanding on the previous point mentioned above, keeping your shins nice and vertical will help keep that bar in line with the center of the foot in the starting position. This will limit any horizontal distance the bar travels, and therefore a more efficient deadlift. One reason a lot of people have trouble keeping their shins vertical is because they don’t like to use their hips when they deadlift. They are all quads and back. Keeping your shins vertical and the bar back into the shins puts the hips in an increased position to do work. Basically, you are extending the knee and flexing the hip more, and therefore loading up the glutes and hamstrings. Keeping the back in a nice flat position with vertical shins puts a lot more emphasis on the hips.
Now, the reason most people don’t like deadlifting in this position right away is because their glutes and hamstrings are WEAK….And I mean WEAK. They can deadlift more through their quads and back, and so they think that is a more efficient position to be in. This is false. Now, you might not be able to lift as much through your glutes and hamstrings right away, but your glutes and hamstrings have much more potential for growth and strength gains than your quads and low back ever will. This vertical shin position with more emphasis on the hips is also a much more sustainable position to deadlift from. You will have way less tweaks on the low back, and you will be able to pull heavy a lot more consistently. Deadlifting through more efficient positions (the hips) keeps the body healthy, and will keep you deadlifting longer, which is a huge part of training. You can’t make strength gains sitting on the sideline. Don’t try to go from point A to point Z. Work on going from point A, to point B, then to point C. Trust and respect the process.
Want a heavier deadlift? Work on keeping the shins as vertical as possible and setting position through your hips. Don’t worry about how much weight is on the bar at first. If you feel that your glutes and hamstrings are lit up after the first time training the deadlift this way you are more than likely doing it right, and you will thank us later.
These are three really quick and easy deadlift tips to get you on the right track to deadlifting more weight. They aren’t the flashiest tips, but they are sure things to help you iron out that deadlift and setting PR’s in no time! Everyone likes to deadlift because it is the easiest way to lift the most amount of weight as possible. Out of mostly all lifts, at Force, the deadlift is the one we have to critique more than any. It’s easy to deadlift, but it is hard to deadlift the right way. Put your ego aside, and really start to engrain these three easy tips into your current deadlift regimen.