This is a guest post from Joe Meglio. Joe is the head strength coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison NJ and works with athletes, strength enthusiasts, and fitness clients on a daily basis. Joe was voted #1 Rising Star it Fitness and deadlifted over 3 Times Bodyweight at the age of 20.
How to Improve Your Deadlift
by Joe Meglio
I don’t claim to know everything in the world of strength training, but if there is one thing that I know best, it is the deadlift. While I am not the best deadlifter in the world, I have put up some respectable numbers. At the age of 20 and bodyweight of 196 1/2 I pulled 600, 3 X my bodyweight.
The deadlift is truly the king all lifts because it works every single muscle in your body. It is the ultimate test of raw strength. Before you learn how you can improve your deadlift, let’s go over how to deadlift.
If you want to learn how you can shatter personal records and earn the respect you deserve from other strength coaches, lifters and friends check out these 6 deadlift tips below to start deadlifting like a champion.
600-lb Deadlift at 196.5-lb BW
1- Increase Deadlift Frequency
Dan John, once said if you want to get good at something then do it everyday. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating loading up the bar with 5 plates and deadlift every day BUT simply put, if you want to get good at anything start doing it more often.
This holds true especially for beginner and intermediate athletes who need to learn all the intricacies of the deadlift. The best results I’ve seen in the deadlift came while having one heavy deadlift day and on the second lower body day, focusing on speed deadlifts and learning to apply as much force as possible to the bar.
Generally speaking, the stronger you are the less often you can deadlift. Somebody who deadlifts 600, 700 + lbs will need a lot more time in-between deadlift workouts compared to somebody who is pulling 300 or 400lbs because their outputs are much higher and thus need more time to recover. Nonetheless, increasing frequency of the deadlift will help ingrain great technique and help you progressively get stronger over time.
2-Attack Your Weakness
Finding your sticking point in the deadlift is critical. There are 3 general areas when the deadlift will break down: off the floor, mid range and at lockout.
Weak off the Floor: If you are weak off the floor, focusing on the posterior chain, more specifically the hamstrings, will be critical to being strong off the floor because you need to be able to load up your hamstrings before you pull. If you fail to do this, your deadlift and strength off the floor will suffer.
Here are my top 5 lifts to help improve strength off the floor:
1) Deficit deadlifts
2) Speed deadlifts
4) Good mornings
Weak at the Mid-Range: If you are weak at the mid-range area, focus on training your back like a beast. Not just your upper and middle back but also your lower back is critical.
Here are my Top 6 back exercises for those who have weakness in the mid-range of the deadlift.
1) Chest supported rows
2) 1 arm rows
3) Barbell rows
5) Barbell back extensions
6) Low rack pulls
Weak at Lockout: If you are weak at lockout focus on improving glute strength and grip strength. The glutes are critical to extending the hips and finishing the deadlift. Without strong and powerful glutes, you will have a hard time finishing the deadlift.
Here are my top 3 go to exercises to build strong glutes and finish the deadlift strong:
1) Barbell Glute Bridge
2) Barbell Hip Thrusts
3-Drop the Bar Between Reps
A lot of lifters and coaches don’t like deadlifts because it takes too long to recover from them. Instead of scrapping the deadlift, try dropping the bar in-between reps. Most injuries happen during the eccentric part of the lift so avoiding it is a good way to improve your ability to recover from the deadlift.
If you are a competitive powerlifter you will have to lower the bar to the ground but you can start dropping the bar for your assistance exercises.
4-Perfect Your Technique
Learning proper technique is important for not only safety reasons but also performance. While there are many different ways to setup, just find what works for you best and something that you can repeat every time you deadlift.
Here is your 6 step process to deadlifting like a champion:
- Start with a vertical jump stance and the bar over the midline of your foot (for conventional stance lifters)
- Sit your butt back and down until you hands reach the bar
- Make sure your hamstrings are loaded up, back is neutral and neck is packed
- Fill your belly with air, pull the slack out to create tension on your lats
- Squeeze the bar off the ground by leading with your chest and driving your feet down through the ground
- Once the bar passes your knees, snap and squeeze your glutes at the top
Practice your technique often. Make sure it is ingrained in your head and always try to improve it.
5-Find out What Stance Works Best for YOU
There are two different deadlift stances: sumo deadlifts or conventional deadlifts. Common knowledge would tell you that the sumo deadlift is easier because the bar path is shorter but this isn’t always the case. If you are built like me, longer arms, average legs and a shorter torso you are more built for the conventional deadlift.
Lifters who are good squatters and benches will lift with a sumo stance because generally speaking they have shorter arms and legs but a longer torso. The only way to truly know which stance you are stronger with is to experiment with both stances and see what works best for you.
6-Train Your Back Like a Beast
One of the big things that took my deadlift from 500lbs to 600lbs was how much stronger my back got. The back muscles are critical for stabilization during the deadlift and it is almost impossible to deadlift a lot of weight without having a back built like a beast.
Here are 5 awesome back exercises that you need to be doing:
2) 1 arm DB rows
3) Chest supported rows
4) T Bar Rows
5) Bent Over Rows
And there you have it, 6 killer deadlift tips. If you want to shatter personal records and skyrocket your deadlift, start using these tips right now. Remember, the deadlift is more then just a great lift, it is your ticket to earning your man card and earning the respect you deserve.
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