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Improving the dead lift. The conventional dead lift.

Updated on June 11, 2016

Getting started from scratch (again for some)

There are a great many things to understand in the deadlift. Firstly, there are two accepted forms of the deadlift in competition (sanctioned meets); the sumo style and conventional. I use the conventional deadlift all of the time. It's more suited to my frame, and I consider it the "purest" (or purist) type of deadlift. The main differences are stance width and foot position (toe in, out etc.) Since I use and understand the conventional style, I'll concentrate mainly on that.

My first recommendation: Do not deadlift facing a mirror. Many gyms have mirrors, but the last thing that mirror should be used for is setting your stance. The same goes for the squat. Too many people look in the mirror and make corrections based on what they see. Big mistake! The best thing you can do (and this relates to the sqrat, too) isto "feel the floor". I mean concentrate on how your feet feel. If you feel like you're in a good, strong position, that's most likely where your feet should be.

Shoes should have flat soles. A belt should always be used for heavy attempts, though I do all of my warmups and some work sets without a belt. This is an advanced technique only!

To start, walk up to the bar, drop into your ready position, arms hanging exactly at shoulder width. Taking a wider grip will kill your numbers because as the grip goes out, the shoulders move closer to the floor. It increases the distance you have 'til reaching a locked out position. In case you're relatively new, note that the hands should be one overhand, one underhand. The use of lifting chalk (magnesium sterate) will improve your grip when your hands are sweaty. This grip keeps the bar from rolling either front or back, increasing your ability to grasp it. My current goal is 525 at 164 (pound under the 165 class). which is my former best from previous USA Powerlifting meets.

Your head should be up. Some people like to look up, but I don't find this helpful at all. Plus, it puts your neck in a flexed position, augmenting the chance of an injury.

Don't make the mistake of dropping your hips too low. It will take some time to find your groove, and to perfect your "line". Now that you're set, pull up on the bar ever so slightly. This takes all of the slack out of your body and helps set your hips. Olympic style bars do bend, and usually 315 lbs is enough to start them bending.Taking some of that slack out will help your explosiveness. When commencing the lift, try to imagine the bar is stationary and you're trying to drive your feet into the floor. You'll eventually dispense all conscious thought before the lift as you have sufficient practice.

As you lift, the bar should remain very close to your legs, actually dragging the bar against the legs. Get ready for bloody shins in time. It's not unusual to scrape skin off with the bar's knurling (sounds lovely, doesn't it?). If you wear shorts, use baby powder on your thighs, but DON'T get it on your hands. Don't hitch. I mean don't work the bar up the thighs by jerking then resting on the thigh. This is an instant disqualification in competition, and poor form to boot.

A full lock out is achieved when the bar is even, shoulders back and the knees locked.

NOW, don't move. Once you place the bar back on the floor, count the shoelaces that are out in front of the bar. This is where you need to set up every time (depth of feet into the bar-sorry if that's a bit ambiguous). Ever notice your second rep is always easier and more comfortable than the first? That's because the bar is exactly where it should be once you've set it down and start the next rep.

In the following capsules I'll have much more to offer. As with all of my hubs, I like them to be readable and lack clutter. Plus, most people can only absorb a finite amount of information in a sitting. This much will get you started, or give you food for thought with your present technique


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