Is bigfoot real? Do aliens exist? What exactly does Kylie Jenner do? What does it take to have a monster deadlift?

These are all questions that mankind has pondered since the dawn of time. Unfortunately I don’t have many answers regarding bigfoot, aliens or Kylie but i might be able to shed some light on the deadlift. 

Besides being one of the most functional exercises you can perform, the deadlift might also be the best exercise for demonstrating raw power. Nothing quite matches that feeling of successfully ripping a barbell loaded with plates from the floor. Now, I will be the first to admit I am far from a deadlift expert but using a few simple techniques I was able to move my measly 455lb deadlift to a more respectable 515 in a matter of months. I also believe using these techniques I can maintain steady progress for quite some time.

1. Dead Stop Deadlifts

There was a time when my first rep on the deadlift was always the toughest. I knew on a heavy set that I would have to grind through rep one with less than optimal form before I could really start moving the weight. After the first rep, I would use a “touch and go” technique and the weight move faster and better. While this was okay for reps it translated to a less than stellar one rep max. 

Luckily there is a simple fix - let each rep come to a dead stop on the floor. The biggest advantage you get from this is teaching your body how to get in the best starting position possible each time through repetition. Now my first rep always feels great and each rep after that feels much more consistent. 

2. Split the Foot in Half

My starting position is something that is always a work in progress but one day things just seemed off. I had been using the cue of leaning back and getting behind the weight so much that it felt like I had no power. My starting position would consist of my shins perfectly vertical with the barbell up against them them. This setup made me feel week so I went back to having the bar dissect the middle of my foot and bringing my shins to touch it. Once I made this change I instantly felt like i was in a much more explosive starting position. 

3. Tighten Those Lats

The latissimus dorsi or the lats as us common folk refer to them, are the large muscles that extend up the sides of your back. You can use these to your advantage when you need to stabilize the body for big pulls. A great cue to engage these is to think of “bending” the bar around your shins in the starting position. Before leaving the floor, grip the barbell tightly and try turning your elbows in towards your body while “wrapping” the bar around your shins. this should help you feel your lats engage more and keep you tighter throughout the entire lift. Remember, if it ain’t tight it ain’t right!

4. Pump up the Volume with Deficits

If you’re not good at something do more of it! This was a huge issue for me on the deadlift since most weeks I only had 2 heavy working sets of 5 reps. To get more volume in while adding a little variation to the lift I implemented deficits into my programming after my working sets were complete. Deficits really help that starting position by making the lift tougher. You would be surprised what a difference 2-3 inches can make (that’s what she said). With these I dropped the weight down to 50% - 60% of my one rep max and did 3 sets of 5. That seemed to hit the hammys and glutes pretty well with minimal strain on the back.

There’s 4 simple tips to help you get that stagnant deadlift moving again. Have you had any major breakthroughs in your deadlift training? I would love to hear about them and what you did to power through any plateaus in the comments below!

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