Summary of 10 Ways to Increase Your Deadlift
straight from the source 1. Increase Your Grip Strength
website here 2. Don’t Raise Your Hips Without Your Chest
3. Start in The Correct Position
4. Deadlift with Flat Shoes or Without Shoes
5. Do Rack Pulls Below The Knee
6. Do Different Variations of the Deadlift
7. Give Your Body Enough Time To Recover
8. Vary Deadlift Volume, Frequency and Intensity
9. Keep a Strong Mentality
10. Move the Bar in a Straight Line
1. Increase Your Grip Strength
I have a whole page dedicated toward increasing your grip strength for the Deadlift and why you should do it. I reccommend you check it out.
But to summerize what increasing your grip strength does for your Deadlift. When you can grip objects harder you can activate more muscle fibers and generate more power
2. Don’t Raise Your Hips Without Your Chest
I often see this with new lifters. But sometimes it will occur with people who have been deadlifting for a long time.
When you Deadlift it should be a fluid motion. As you are pushing through your legs keep your chest up. Your hips should not shoot up. When this happens the angle between your torso and legs will increase.
This may make the movement easier to initiate. But by doing this you will most likely break the tightness in your back. Resulting in that poor cat rounded back deadlifting form.
One reason why this may be happening is that your lats are not tight enough when you start the movement.
Another way to make sure that you are not pushing your hips without also holding the same position with your upper body. Is you try to think about keeping your hips in a mechanically leveraged position throughout the lift.
3. Start in the Correct Position
This is one of the other major reasons for why lifters shoot there hips up without supporting their upper body. Your hamstrings and Gluts should be extremely tight at the start of the movement.
If your Gluts and hamstrings are not tight you will have no way to leverage your body. Many people who deadlift will start with there hips to high making it so they don’t get any tension from there hamstrings.
Starting with your hips to high may put a tremendous amount of stress on your lower back. Since your lower back will be taking on a majority of the movement. The more muscles you use in a movement the stronger you will be.
One cause of this could be that your back is proportionally stronger than your legs. So make sure that you aren’t skipping leg day.
The opposite of this but also not a good way to Deadlift is getting your hips to low mimicking a squat. If your quads and hamstrings are parallel to the ground you are most likely too low.
The reason this is a bad starting position is that you won’t be able to get your Gluts and Hamstrings that tight from the beggining of the movement. Instead your hips will shoot up before the bar comes off the ground until they are in a position in which your Hamstrings and Glutes are tight.
This is inefficient because you are losing energy before you even lift the bar.
keep in mind however though I am saying your hips can be to low or too high starting deadlifting position will look a touch different for every person. The reason being because everyone has different body and limb proportions.
Or if you have longer arms you may have to start with your hips higher because you may not get full tension in
A great way of finding the best starting position for your Deadlift is to perform the Deadlift with a moderatly heavy weight trying to keep your form as good as possible.
Then once you complete one repetition try to lower the bar very slowly until it touches the ground. When you lower the bar slowly like this it forces your body to find the best mechanical position for you.
4. Deadlift with Flat Shoes or Without Shoes
If you try Deadlifting with sneakers on it is going be hard to keep your shoulders inline with the bar the whole time you Deadlift. Instead you will most likely find your self coming forward as you try to perform the lift.
If you are falling forward in the lift the bar will be farther away from your body and it will make the Dead lift harder.
Also when you Deadlift with shoes that have an arch on the heel you wont be able to sit back into the lift and hamstrings and gluts as tight. Which will hinder your performance.
Another reason you should be Deadlifting with flat shoes or without shoes at all is that most shoes that have and arch also have some sort of shock absorbtion for running.
Which means that some of the force you are trying perform a Deadlift with will be absorbed by your shoes. In turn this will mean in most cases you won’t be able to lift as much weight.
A good solution for this is to take your shoes completely off and Dead lift in your socks. But if you are not comfortable doing that you can always go out and buy lifters shoes.
5. Do Rack Pulls Bellow The Knee
This has worked for me first hand I went from being able to do 405 for 5 reps to 435 for 5 reps through incorporating Rack Pulls Bellow the knee.
Since I have experienced first hand how this can increase your Deadlift I have made it an entire way to improve your Deadlift instead of grouping it in with the section on Different Deadlift Variations.
The main reason that I have choosen the Rack Pull Bellow the knee as compared to above the knee is that with a Rack Pull Above the Knee I feel like there is less of a carry over to your normal Deadlift.
This is because with a Rack Pull Above the Knee you are using less of your Hamstrings. Your body in a Rack Pull Above the Knee is already in a position to finish the lift.
This final portion of the Deadlift requires mainly your glutes and lower back to be activated through the thrusting forward of your hips. Though your Hamstrings and Quadriceps are a major component of the Deadlift in the beginning of the movement.
Which is why I chose Rack Pulls Bellow the Knee as compared to Rack Pulls Bellow the Knee
The reason this works is two fold. For one you are getting more reps in at a motion that is a portion of the Deadlift itself. This means your nervous system will get more used to what muscles need to fire when(muscle memory)
One other reason that this exercise is a great way to increase your Deadlift is that you will be able to do more weight on a Bellow the Knee Rack Pull then a regular Deadlift.
This added amount of weight will get your nervous system more used to the heavier load. Also because it is a heavier weight you will increase the muscle mass required for that portion of the Deadlift.
Since your nervous system and muscle will be adapting to the heavier load you should be able to lift more in your regular Deadlift.
Here is the set up on how to perform a Rack Pull above the Knee
Keep in mind however that doing more repetitions in the Deadlift and Deadlift like exercises will put a high demand on your nervous system. So make sure you are getting proper rest, nutrition and recovery when incorporating Rack Pulls.
6.Do Different Variations of the Deadlift
If you are at a platue with your Deadlift and are haveing a hard time lifting heavier weights. Try giving your nervous system a break from your normal style of Deadlifting for a while.
This could mean if you normally pull Convential try doing a Summo Deadlift for a month or vise versa. Then maybe afterward try pulling Conventional but at a defect. Maybe do Wide Grip Deadlifts for a week.
You will find that doing this like I said previously will give your nervous system a break. Mixing up the type of Deadlift you perform may actually increase your strength in the muscle group in which your sticking point is at also.
For example maybe you have a sticking point of about half way to three fourths of the way up your shins. Then it would be worth looking into trying to do Deficit Deadlifts.
This way you will be increase your Hamstring, Glut and Quadricep strength/muscle due to the added muscular time under tension in the Deficit Deadlift.
Just keep in mind that these different Deadlift variations will tax your body in different ways. So experiment with them to see how they effect your current program and adjust accordingly.
An example of this would be if you are switching from Conventional Deadlifts to Summo Deadlifts. Summo Deadlifts is going to be more taxing on your leg muscles and hip flexers.
Since this is the case when you go to Squat during the week you may find that you cannot squat as much weight.
Here are a few different Deadlift variations, how to perform them and what muscles they will focus on strengthening as compared to the Conventional Deadlift.
Before I go into specific ways in which to perform each of these Deadlift Varations.
The ques in which you should be following for all these variations are keep a neutral spinal position by tightening your lats/pulling your shoulders down, squeeze the bar tight, pull the slack out of the bar and get your Gluts and Hamstrings tight.
Major Muscles Worked: The Sumo Deadlift as mentioned before will put more of the workload from the Deadlift on your Gluts, Hamstrings and Hip Flexors than the conventional Deadlift.
Though the Sumo Deadlift will still engage your back muscles it will be to a lesser degree than the Convential Deadlift. Your lats won’t be as involved in the Summo Deadlift because the angle between your arms and back will be lessened.
Also your hands will be closer together.The combination of these two factors in turn will make it easier to force your lats in a tight position. Since it will be easier keep your lats tight in the Summo Deadlift they will be working less.
How to Perform a Sumo Deadlift
Start with your hands and feet in the general position as demonstrated.
Though you may have different leverages than me so keep in mind your legs and or hands may be farther or closer apart.
Follow the starting ques for all Deadlift variations previously mentioned.
Then performing the lift it may help to think about spreading the floor apart through. This will help you to keep your Gluts tight in this postion. Which will make it easier to leverage your hips as you bring your chest up.
When finishing the lift don’t hyper extend the back.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts
Major Muscles Worked: As compared to the conventional Deadlift the Snatch Grip Deadlift will make your lats stronger.
The reason for this is by having a wider grip in the Deadlift you are forcing your lats to work that much harder to achieve the same neutral spinal position that you should be getting in the Convential Deadlift.
In addition to engageing your Lats more than the Conventional Deadlift the Snatch Grip Deadlift engages your Quads more than the Conventional Deadlift.
This is because to get low enough to grab the bar with such a wide grip you will need to get in more of an upright squatting position. This in turn activates your Quads more during the movement.
How to Perform a Snatch Grip Deadlift:
To perform a Snatch Grip Deadlift set your feet about shoulder width apart from each other. Then Squat Down to grip the bar. Grip the bar with your hands aproximatly 2 and 1/2 times your shoulder width apart.
Then following the general essential ques for every Deadlift variation lift the bar off the ground. There may be a suttle difference however with the Snatch Grip Deadlift. The difference being that you should also be thinking about getting your Quads tighter than you would in a normal Deadlift.
I recommend this because as mentioned previously your Quads will play a more crucial role in this form of the Deadlift
Major Muscles Worked: Some of the major muscles worked in the Jefferson Deadlift as compared to a Conventional Deadlift is your Quads, Core and Glutes.
The Jefferson Deadlift will work your core more because in this Deadlift form you will be forced to rotate your torso into the starting position as compared to the Conventional Deadlift.which in turn will force you to activate your core to a greater degree.
In addition you will be working your Gluts and Quads more because of your leg position and having to keep your torso upright more. Though keeping your torso more upright will reduce your Hamstring activation in the movement.
How to Perform a Jefferson Deadlift
Start with one foot in front of the Barbell and one behind. Then slightly spread your feet apart as if you were going to do a split. After that seperate your feet a little bit in the direction of an outward split.
Next point your foot in front of the bar directly straight ahead and the foot behind the bar directly to your side. Finally following the general cues for the Deadlift Squat down and grab the bar.
Make sure when you lift the bar you try to keep it over the center of your body as much as possible.
Major Muscles Worked: The muscles you will be engaging in the Romanian Deadlift more than the convential Deadlift is your Hamstrings, lower back, Glutes and Lats.
In the Romanian Deadlift you will be working your Hamstrings more because your Quads will be at a level that is close to full contraction throughout the entirety of the motion. Which will make it so your Hamstrings have to exert more force.
Your Glutes will get more activation in this movement because to obtain a neutral spine while keeping your legs close to straight you will need extend your hips out ward and since the Glutes are responsible for hip extension they will be more involved.
The lower Back will be involved more in this movement because your upper body will be going through a much greater range of motion as compared to the Conventional Deadlift.
For example in the Conventional Deadlift your Torso will go from an angle of greater than parellel to the ground to an angle of perpendicular to the ground.
In the Romanian Deadlift your body will go from parallel to the ground to perpendicular to the ground.
The lats will also be more engaged during the Romanian Deadlift because as previously stated the greater the angle is from your arms to your torso the more tight you will have to make your Lats to maintain a neutral spine.
It then follows since in the Romanian Deadlift the angle between your torso and arms will reach approximately 90 degrees at the bottom of the movement as apposed to less than 90 in the Conventional Deadlift. That you will be experiencing more Lat activation in the Romanian Deadlift.
How to Perform the Romanian Deadlift
Start with your feet the same distance and position apart as in a normal conventional Deadlift. Then when you go to reach down to grab the bar push your hips back and keep your legs as straight as possible while also following the common Deadlift ques.
To initiate the movement grab the bar with a double overhand grip just outside shoulder width. Keep in mind at the beggining of the movement your back should be almost parallel to the ground.
Then perform the Romanian Deadlift like you would a Conventional Deadlift. The Romanian Deadlift will be very similar to a stiff leg Deadlift the only difference is at the bottom of the movement you do not want to let the bar touch the ground.
Instead you want to keep constant tension in the muscle groups involved in the movement.
Other Deadlift Variations
For the Deadlift variations that are very similar in muscle activation and the form of the Conventional Deadlift I decided not to create an indivivual section. This includes the Deficit Deadlift and Trap Bar Deadlift.
The Defecit Deadlift will work more of your Quads and Glutes than the Conventional Deadlift. The form for this lift will however be the same as the Conventional Deadlift.
The only difference is you will be performing the Deficit Deadlift off of an olympic plate increasing the range of motion of the Deadlift.
When performing a Trap Bar Deadlift the muscles being activated the most will be somewhere in between the muscle activation of the Jefferson Deadlift and of the Conventional Deadlift.
Though the form for this Deadlift variation will be the same as the Conventional Deadlift. Except your hands will be in a neutral position given you are using a Trap Bar to Deadlift.
7. Give Your Body Enough Time To Recover
The Deadlift if very taxing on your nerological system and your muscles. For this reason you may be overtraining this movement. The most I would say you should be Deadlifting a week would be 1 to 3 times per week.
However this depends on your workout program split and what exercises are included within it. If you are not Squating and not doing many compound movements. You may be able to get away with Deadlifting more like 3 times a week.
The amount of time you will need to recover from a Deadlift will also depend on the intensity and daily volume you have programed in your Deadlift routine.
If you lift very heavy(80-100 percent of your 1 Rep Max) and low reps(1-5 reps) on every Deadlift day you may not want to Deadlift as frequently. On the other hand if you Deadlift with higher reps(Like 8-12) and less weight(approx. 60-75 percent of your 1 Rep Max) you may be able to up your Deadlifting frequency.
I would not follow any Deadlift program that recommends an exact number of Deadlift sets, reps and frequency that does not tell you to do it by itself.
The reason for this is that the program you would be following does not take into account how many times a week and what intensitys you are Squating and Benching.
If you are working out these 2 exercises very frequently and with higher intensitys you may not be able to proper recover in the new Deadlift program recommended.
On the flip side if you don’t Squat or Bench with high frequency and Intensity then you may be not working your Deadlift an optimal amount in your new program.
Though you will most likely have a good amount of time to recover in this case you may be able to increase your Deadlifting strength more if you were to Deadlift more than your chosen program recommends.
8. Vary Deadlift Volume, Frequency and Intensity
When ever picking a Deadlift program or a exercise program of any kind it should be based around varying these 3 variables. Wether you are following a linear progression program or Dynamic Progression Program this concept should be applied.
There are 3 main components to strength the amount of power/explosiveness you have, the amount of muscle you have to lift a weight, and how efficiently you can get your muscle fibers to fire in an exercise.
By training each component of these components in separate workout blocks in your program you will keep your muscles and nervous system constantly worked in different ways.
The way in which you train to increase your power and explosiveness is by training with low reps(approx. 3 reps) and low intensity(55-65 percent of your 1 Rep Max). But when performing these reps trying to move the weight as fast as possible with keeping good form.
It is usually also efficient to have short rest periods in between your sets in power explosiveness workout blocks. This is because you are doing lighter weight for less reps it will be easier for your body to recover quicker.
Working out to increase the amount of muscle fibers you can recruit in the Deadlift will require you to lift heavier weights at a higher intensity for less reps. An example would be lifting (90 percent of your one rep max for 3 sets of 4 reps).
Lifting heavier weights like this will make it so you have to recruit more muscle fibers so that you can apply maximum effort in the Deadlift.
The last main component of strength is the size of your muscle fibers. Though it has been shown that you cannot increase the amount of muscle fibers you have in your body. You can increase the cross sectional area of the muscle fibers you have.
When you have bigger muscles you will have a greater amount of strength potential. This is because a bigger muscle will be able to apply more force than a smaller muscle fiber(that is given that they are bigger Fast Twitch muscle fibers).
The way you train to increase the size of your muscles needed for the Deadlift is to train these muscles in the rep range of (5-12) and an intensity of (70-85 percent).
9. Keep a Strong Mentality
This is a looked over a lot when people recommend things to increase the Deadlift. But I feel like this is a major contributing factor in increasing your Deadlift.
This method for increaseing your Deadlift may be very hard for you. But if you are not willing to put in full effort and concentration on every rep and Deadlift set you perform your resulting strength will suffer.
Also without a strong mentality it will be tough to get into the tight and uncomfortable positions the Deadlift requires in order to have maximum strength.
Some ways you can improve your mentalility is visualization, set daily goals and chunking. For visualization you want to picture yourself doing the Deadlift with good form and with as much force as possible.
Visualize how the set will feel and what muscles will be activated. This will help to give you more confidence that you will be able to perform the reps or lift the weight you want to lift for the day.
It will take away some of the stress of not being able to perform the weight. Since you have already pictured yourself doing it in your imagination
It will also give you a standard that you set for yourself in your imagination to live up to.
The next way to increase your mental resolve is setting daily goals. These goals should be resonable daily Deadlift goals. This method works for 2 reasons.
One being if you tell yourself you are going to do something it really makes you work hard so that you can get the mental satisfaction of accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.
The other reason this works is that if you fail at your goal for the day then you will feel disappointed in yourself and not want to feel that way again. I remember when I was 16 years old and I wanted to Deadlift 450.
One day I told myself today is the day I try my 1 rep max and get Deadlift 450. But that day I failed to do 450 and it felt awful.
So the next time when I Deadlifted I was so much more pumped up and didn’t want to feel that feeling again that I Deadlifted the weight with everything I had in me. This resulted in me lifting 450 pounds.
The final way that I have found is the best to increase your mental strength for Deadlifting is to Chunk your workouts. The concept of chunking exercises, reps or sets is a way to make your workout less intimidating.
Since you will be less intimated by your workout and less stressed out you will perform better.
What mental chunking is taking a very large or big activity like a Deadlift workout and concentrating only on what you will be doing next. To show how this works I will ask you a question.
Does it seem harder to complete a Long Deadlift workout or to complete just your next set in the workout? Your anwser will most likely be it is easier to perform the next set.
So by focusing on only what you have to do next you will find you should get less stressed out and before you know it your workout will be finished with.
10. Move the Bar in a Straight Line
When you Deadlift Record yourself from a side angle and see if you are moving the bar in a straight line from the bottom of the Deadlift to the final position. If you are not moving the bar in a Straight line then you are not performing the Deadlift in the most optimal way.
This means you may be able to do more weight if you just focused on fixing your bar path during the Deadlift.
Some things you may be doing that could cause you to not lift the in a straight line is that you may be starting with the bar to close to your body or to far away.
If you are starting with the bar to far from your body instead of lifting the bar in a straight line upward you will have to pull the bar toward your self while trying to lift the weight.
This is not optimal because it will increase the range of motion of the exercise and being to far away from your body may cause you to not be able to use proper form.
In the case that you are starting the Deadlift to close to your body you may need will need move the bar outward to go around your knees to finish the lift.
This is again not a good way to Deadlift because it requires you to lift the bar a increased range of motion and may put a lot of stress on your lower back.
So to Deadlift the bar in a straight line try to start with the bar over the center of your foot.
But keep in mind like I have said earlier that based on your leverages the bar may not be exactly over the center of your foot. I am just using that as a reference point.
Another mistake you could be making that will increase the Deadlifts range of motion is if you are bringing the bar to your hips and not pushing your hips forward into the bar.
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