Deadlifting is one of the hardest exercises you can do, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. This brutally hard exercise is a true test of strength, and although it looks relatively easy (Just pick it up and put it down, right?), perfecting form and increasing strength is very difficult. If you’re not deadlifting at least once a week, you’re missing out on a heck of a lot of back development. Here are my top tips to maximizing your deadlift potential.
It’s a Push, Not a Pull
When deadlifting, do not think of it as a pulling movement, think of it as a push. Generate power through your feet and push through your feet into the ground while simultaneously bringing the bar up. It’s important to use your bigger muscle groups like your legs and posterior chain to move the weight, and not your arms – your legs are going to be a heck of a lot stronger than your arms. This tip alone can help you generate so much more strength and power.
Before you start to pull, take a deep breath into your stomach (not your chest). This is known as the Valsalva manoeuvre, and it increases your power output potential while also protecting your lower back.
Here are the steps of how to do the Valsalva manoeuvre:
1. Inhale into your stomach before or during the negative rep
2. Exhale against your closed glottis at start of every rep
3. Exhale after sticking point, then finish the positive portion of the rep
Doing just about every exercise, you should stay as tight as possible, but keeping your lats contracted and tight is crucial when you’re pulling big weight. Your lats are going to help with bringing the weight up and creating a stronger motion upward. Keeping this mind to muscle connection and contracting your lats will help you pull more weight.
You want to “pack your neck” as tight as possible. Keep your head neutral with your spine and keep your neck packed throughout the entire lift. This is going to help maintain that tightness throughout the entire body and generate more force. More force means bigger weights, keep that in mind.
Grip Hard and Pull out the Slack
This tip is extremely important, and you’re about to find out why.
You see, if you fail to pull out the slack of the bar before pulling, your hips are gonna shoot up first and the entire lift is going to be using all of your back. Remember, it’s better to use your bigger muscles like your legs and posterior chain to lift the weight.
What I mean by “Pulling out the slack” is this:
✓ Before you initiate the pull, make sure you pull the bar tight by slightly pulling it upward, but not actually pulling yet
✓ You should hear a “click” of the bar and plates connecting, and then you’re ready to pull
✓ Now, you want to grip the bar HARD, and if your knuckles aren’t white, then you’re not gripping it hard enough
This last tip is important if you want to maximize your deadlift potential. Deadlifting in running shoes is like sprinting in steel-toe boots. What you’re gonna want is a flat shoe, something with a hard sole and something that’s gonna keep you as close to the floor as possible.
Alternatively, you could take your shoes off all together. Your feet can’t come much closer to the floor than deadlifting in your socks!
Take Home Message
Take these tips to heart and I can promise you will add weight on your deadlift. Being extremely strong is just FUN and having an impressive deadlift is just another great way to show off your strength. Be consistent, and pick things up and put them down.