FREE Anabolic Bodybuilding Secrets
The Most Effective Training Program Ever
Build Strength, Muscle Mass & Get Ripped Fast!
Enter your first name and a valid email address
for free instant access to the anabolic bodybuilding program.
Improving the Start of Your Deadlift
By Doug Daniels, monthly contributor to Powerlifting U.S.A. since 1986 and regular contributor to many other weight lifting magazines.
The deadlift can be divided into 3 distinct parts; the start off the
floor, at the knee, and the lockout. In this article, I'll deal with
the start off the floor. First of all, most sumo pullers will find that
the initial pull off the floor will be the most difficult part of the
lift, and for many conventional pullers, the start maybe the strongest
part. For those of you out there that find the initial pull is the part
of the lift that needs the least work, I say read on because if the pull
off the floor can be further improved, that power from the bottom may be
the margin that gets the bar past the sticking point later in the lift.
Let's examine some exercises and techniques that can help us snap that
bar off the floor.
The best exercise for power off the floor, and perhaps the best
assistance move for the deadlift, is the deadlift off the blocks. Stand
on a study platform about 4-6 inches high (a 100 pound plate will do)
that allows you to lower the bar to the floor without crushing your
feet. Deadlifting from that position will develop your range of motion
over a greater distance, especially the start. I recommend this one be
used as your main deadlift assistance move, up to 6-8 weeks prior to a
contest. Even sumo deadlifters should use this one as it will build a
high degree of back strength which is important no matter what style you
The lats, teres major and minor, etc., are valuable to the pull too.
Exercises for these muscles consist of pulling the arms back as in
rowing, and pulling the arms down as in chins and lat pulldowns. The
main contribution of the lats in the deadlift is to keep the arms in and
back during the pull. So, it would stand to reason that an exercise
that pulls the arms back, like various rowing moves, would be preferable
over pulldown moves like chins. To save your back from extra stress, try
one arm dumbbell rows or another exercise where the back is supported.
Positioning for the deadlift is critical. Many newer lifters start the
lift with their shins too far away from the bar. Their initial pull
must bring the bar into their body, then up. This adds many "pounds" to
the lift, not to mention additional chance for injury. I suggest
getting your shins no more than 1-2 inches away from the bar, if not
right up against it.
Another technique to use in training would be not to bounce any of the
reps no matter how light the bar is loaded. The deadlift is the only
lift of the big three where we can't generate any momentum to start
upwards, so why train using momentum? Also, bouncing the bar between
reps may leave you in an unadvantageous position which may result in a
poor leverage position or again, open you to extra chances of injury.
Pause and reset your position between every rep of every set. Your
technique will improve also and technique is an extremely important part
of getting the bar off the floor, regardless of style used.
While we're on positioning, try to use as upright a back posture as
possible. This will decrease the distance the bar has to travel and
allocate more of the load to your powerful leg muscles. You may need to
devote a little extra time to develop additional flexibility to reach a
more erect upright position, but it will be worth it.
One last positioning tip. Don't begin to pull with bent arms. It seems
some lifters think they are going to curl the bar. If you begin the
lift with bent arms, the first moment of the pull goes to straightening
out your arms, wasting valuable drive where you need it most.
Now a bit on lifting gear. Conventional deadlifters should try to use
slipper type shoes or wrestling shoes. They fulfill the rules for
footwear and are low to the ground, thus further decreasing the distance
the bar must travel. Some lifters deadlift with work boots or high
heeled squat shoes. These are a no-no for deadlifting as they increase
the distance the bar must travel and position you more forward over the
bar, causing you to pull back as well as up as I discussed earlier.
Sumo lifters might try a flat soled cross-training shoe as they may need
more foot support because of the wide stance used.
Lastly, I have found that certain squat suits help greatly in the
deadlift. I myself gained about 40-50 pounds by using a specific squat
suit. Some squat suits are terrible for the deadlift, but some that
were worthless for the squat prove to be effective for the deadlift.
Try a few out. Also new on the market are deadlift suits. I have not
tried one of these, but they are worth considering. If nothing works,
just use a wrestling singlet. Of course use a belt.
I didn't mention any sets or reps on the exercises I recommended. That's
up to you. I do hope that I gave you some useful tips on how to improve
your pull off the floor. Even if the start of your deadlift is the
strong point of the lift, an increase there might get the bar up and
past your sticking point later.
Improving the Start of Your Deadlift
The information presented is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding any suggestions and recommendations made.