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There is no better true test of a person’s strength than the deadlift. And that’s probably why a lot of people never do them, because they are just too hard. So today I’m going to share 3 simple tips on how you can start improving your deadlift.
The first way to easily improve your deadlift is simple.
TIP #1 Try to bend the bar.
Yes, you read that right, I want you to try to bend the bar! When you grip the bar, imagine that you are a competitor on the World’s Strongest Man and try as hard as you can to bend the bar in half. Your elbows should end up pointing back and your lats should be as tight as they can possibly get .
Another good cue I like to use with my clients to get them to activate their lats is to squeeze their armpits, as if they were trying to hold a towel in their armpits. I’ve even used this as an exercise, where I put a side of the towel under each arm of my client, have them squeeze while I try to pull it out.
The reason why you want to contract the lats is that we want to create as much tightness in the body as possible. This allows you to handle greater loads without rounding your back, and possibly injuring yourself. The better you become at learning how to create maximal tightness in the body the higher your deadlift numbers will get. And the reason why I use the term “learn” is because lifting maximal loads is a skill amongst itself.
Getting tight may sound easy to do, but until you try to create (and maintain) tightness while trying to lift maximal weights, you have no idea. And I say this from experience. As one of my mentors, Mark Buckley, has told me numerous times, everything changes under load. Truer words could not be spoken!
And what an appropriate time to watch one of the funniest deadlift fails ever:
TIP #2 Improve Your Grip
The next thing you can do to improve your deadlift is to improve your grip. If you’ve ever been told you shake hands like a girl, you need to start here. That is, unless you actually are a girl, then it’s understandable. You are only as strong as you weakest link, and grip strength is typically the weak link with most people. Lack of grip strength can prevent you from reaching your deadlift potential.
Doing some heavy farmers walks or throwing on a pair of fat gripz onto your dumbbells will definitley help develop some grip strength.
One thing you do want to be wary of is how often you are adding in heaving grip training. Grip training can be very taxing on your nervous system, which takes considerably more time to recover than your muscular system. Doing either too much of it, or doing it too often could burn out your nervous system actually limiting the loads you will be able to handle. Once a week is a great number to start at, which will see your grip strenght improve in a matter of a few weeks.
TIP #3 Stop Deadlifting!
And the last way to improve you deadlift is to stop doing the deadlift. But, how am I going to get better without doing them is what you may be asking. Easy, try adding in some of these assistance exercises; good mornings, sumo deadlft, seated good morning, and box squats.
Did you know that a lot of high level powerlifters rarely deadlift outside of competition? They rely heavily on using some of the assistance exercises mentioned above. One of the main reasons for this is that they don’t want their body to adapt to the exercise, constantly challenging it.
By switching up the hip dominant movement that they are training every 2-4 weeks, it allows them to continue to train heavy without fear of burning out on the lift. Many lifters will continue to see their weight go up on a weekly basis months at a time by using assistance exercises. Hold on, did you say a PB every week? Yup, you read that right! It is not that uncommon to hear of guys setting a new personal best every week, just take a look at Louie Simmons and the Westside crew. The other added bonus of this is that you will actually strengthen many of your weak points in the deadlift without even realizing it.
So, I hope that this has given you some ideas on how to improve you deadlift with these simple tips. In part 2 of this series I will dig a bit deeper on how to improve your deadlift.
Now go do some deads………he is!