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Master the Art of the Deadlift
With These Expert Guidelines

I’ve been blessed with a few abilities. I can write, I can dunk a basketball and I can deadlift like my life depends on it.

My training career has gifted me quite a few triple bodyweight deadlifts, several on the north side of 600 pounds. So today, I’m sharing with you six tips that helped me achieve them.

1. Find the Middle of Your Feet

Conventional deadlift wisdom prods lifters to “drive through their heels” while pulling. Ever the contrarian, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Driving through the heels while deadlifting is supposed to counterbalance the heavy load that’s dragged up the legs. In reality, however, it unbalances us. Our brain receives a message that our body is in a less-than-stellar position, and as a result our joints aren’t optimally coordinated. The hips and knees can’t talk the way they normally do.

Focus your drive through the middle of your feet and magic happens. Your center of gravity finds its happy place, your hips and knees work in unison. This makes the best use of leg drive while also allowing the posterior chain to pull the bar to lock out.

The easiest way to maintain mid-foot drive is to dial. Find the joint of your big toe, the joint of your pinky toe and your heel. Then screw that triangle into the ground by driving your knee out. Now, try to shift your weight forward, then backward. Difficult to unbalance your weight from your mid-foot? That’s right. It sure is.

Take further advantage of this middle-of-the-foot renaissance by visualizing crushing your feet through the floor as you start your drive. Powerful visuals improve performance.

2. Don’t Dive Bomb

There’s a temptation that seduces all deadlifters, the desire to drop to the bar as quickly as possible to attack the lift. It’s a siren song bound to lead you astray.

You’ve seen it on YouTube, at the gym or at a powerlifting meet if you’ve competed. A guy aggressively drops to the bar and commences the pull with little set-up. Sometimes it’s a successful strategy. But more often than not, as the weight gets heavier, and technique and positioning grow important, it’s sabotage.

The reasons are simple. Dive bombing doesn’t allow a lifter to locate optimal hip position. It also negates optimal tension loading.

I’m not advocating a three-minute romance with the bar before dragging it toward your pelvis, but spending time figuring out where your body must be in relation to it is a worthy endeavor. But how? What works better than dive bombing the bar? Our next tip.

3. Pull Yourself to the Bar

Successful deadlifts commence from a good position. The hips are locked in place, the spine is long and stiffness encompasses the musculature. Find this position by “pulling” yourself to the bar.

Start by standing with your shins an inch or two from the bar. Bend down, spine rounded and grab the bar. From this position “pull” your hips down until your shins touch the bar and your spine is flat. You might find that your hips didn’t move far. You may also find that you’re nearly in a full squat. Neither position is advantageous for heavy pulling. If you find that you still have wiggle room to move your hips up and down, you definitely don’t have your hips in the right position.

You’ll now individualize your set-up by adjusting your shin position, either moving closer or farther from the bar. Do this, and continue pulling yourself to the bar, until you find the position that best “locks” you in. This means you can’t move your hips without the bar moving.

4. Limit Max Effort Pulling

The deadlift is the most neurologically draining exercise in the training rolodex. Being as such, working at high percentages of one rep max take a heavy toll on the body. Consistent max effort pulling ravages it.

Heavy deadlifting is a good thing; don’t mistake my point. But a heavy deadlift is different than a heavy squat or bench press. While deadlifting, heavy happens at a lower percentage of one rep max. Consistently squatting at ninety percent isn’t a big deal—in fact, if done properly, it’s great—but that type of boldness while pulling is ill advised.

Keep most of your heavy deadlift efforts in the seventy-five to eighty-five percent range. Venture up towards ninety percent, or attempt a max, infrequently. Rule of thumb: ninety percent once every four to eight weeks, max effort once every twelve to sixteen.

5. Stay Under Five Reps

This tip exists on the same continuum as our previous one. Deadlifting is neuromuscularly draining, stressing the body with it too much hinders development and limits recovery.

Creep on the north side of five reps with deadlift sets and you’re asking for a problem. This is, of course, unless the bar weight is light. But if that’s the case, what’s the point in doing it? Deadlifts are for strength.

An expedition into high rep deadlifting leads to bad habits that break down form and limit technique development. The stress associated also inhibits recovery and eventually leads to a backward strength slide.

Plan your deadlift sets using one to five reps, You’ll improve skill without wrecking yourself.

6. Increase Frequency for Practice

Here’s another contrarian idea: high-frequency deadlifting is a good thing. In fact, if you can deadlift every day, do it!

This case is the exception to the light deadlifting rule. Skill work with light bar weight—between fifty and seventy percent of one rep max—done every day does wonders for deadlift improvement.

Plan sets of one to five reps in the percentage range from the previous paragraph. Keep the total reps under twenty and complete this skill-enhancing, deadlift session prior to your main training lift. Not only will your deadlifting improve, but you’ll prime yourself to perform for your day’s big training lift.

Suggested Supplements

[Editor’s Note: When it comes to the deadlift, bodybuilders like to say, “”If the bar ain’t bending, you’re just pretending.” So what do you need to master this arcane art of the hardcore gymrat? Strength, strength, and more strength. BioQuest’s MyoZene has been the bodybuilder’s supplemental resource for strength increase since the day it first appeared. Indeed, a product-specific clinical study conducted with MyoZene documented 24% to 32% increases in measurable strength among test subjects who supplemented with MyoZene over the course of just 28 days. MyoZene’s mass-building combination of rapid-action whey hydrolysate and extra-bioavailable leucine make it ideal for jump-starting anabolish after a particularly intense deadlifting session.

Of course, when we discuss strength increase, we have to mention the granddaddy of all strength-suppoet supplements, creatine monohydrate. ProSource brand Creatine Monohydrate is 100% sourced from CreaPure German creatine monohydrate, long acknowledged as the world’s best. For low price and high quality, ProSource Creatine is and has always been the athlete’s first choice!]

Conclusion

Take action with these six deadlifting tips and practice them frequently. Note your changes and find tips of your own. You’ll mold progress into a brilliant deadlifting career.

Read more about MyoZene here.

Read more about ProSource Creatine here.


1 Lou L, Kalman D, Feldman S, Krieger DR. An Open Label Clinical Trial Evaluating the Effects of MyoZene with Resistance Training on Changes in Body Composition and Muscle Strength. 55th  American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference. Med Sci Sports Exer  2008; 40(5): S98; 939.


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