Increase Your Deadlift Max
How to Add 10 Per Cent to Your Deadlift Max in Two Weeks
The deadlift is one of the best compound movements you can perform in the gym. It is also one of the quickest ways to pack on mass all over your body while, at the same time, building tremendous strength and power. Yet, to get big you've got to be lifting big. In this article, we'll show you how to boost your max lift by 10% (that should be around 20-30 pounds) in just two weeks.
The Warm Up
Before launching into your first set of deadlifts, there are certain priming exercises that you can do to put you in a better position, activating more muscle fibers in the right muscle groups. This will allow you to operate at 100% of your true strength capacity.
If your gym doesn't have a weight sled, you need to start looking for a better gym. A sled is a weight stand that sits on the floor and has a harness attached that goes over your shoulders. It is an awesome way to activate your quads, glutes, lats and hamstrings.
Start with a backwards sled drag where you grab the harness attachment and walk backwards as you pull the sled toward you. Then switch to a forward drag with the harness over your shoulders. You don't need to go heavy - the idea is to wake up the muscles and prime them for action.
After your sled drags, move straight into a hip flexor stretch. Get into a semi kneeling position with your left knee in front. Lean forward while maintaining a neutral spine to feel the stretch in the front of your hip. Repeat on the other leg.
From here, go into a piriformis stretch. Lie on your back with both knees bent up. Bringing one knee up toward your chest, open the knee outward by putting the heel on the opposite knee. Now gently push that knee away from you. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Do this 2-3 times on each leg.
In order to activate the core muscles that surround the spine, finish your warm up stretch with a few bird dogs. Get down on all fours, then simultaneously extend your right arm and left leg parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Having stretched to optimize your deadlift positioning, you're now going to activate the key muscle groups.
Grab a kettlebell with a shoulder width grip. Push your hips down and back to get a good stretch in the hamstrings. Allow your hands to travel back between your legs and then pop your hips forward to snap the kettlebell up toward your chest level. Keep doing this in a rhythmic manner until you have completed 12 reps.
To activate the lats, do 5-10 reps of the overhand grip inverted row. You can do this in the power rack with the bar set about 24 inches from the ground. Lie on the floor under the bar and reach up to grab it with a shoulder width grip. With a neutral spine, pull through the lats to bring your torso up to the bar.
Put On Some Wrist Wraps
The reason that most guys are unable to make traction on their deadlift is not because their target muscles, the lats and hamstrings, fail. It's because their grip gives out. Overcoming that limitation by using wrist wraps is not cheating - it's smart training.
Your use of wrist wraps, however, should be limited by two factors:
(1) Only using them when doing a double overhanded grip deadlift.
(2) Only use straps when attempting a one rep max lift.
Check out which wraps are best for you with our comprehensive analysis of the best lifting wraps on the market.
Mentally Cue Yourself
As you step up to the bar and prepare to perform your one rep max, you should be thinking about only one thing - the mental cues to executing the perfect lift. Here's what should be going through your mind . . .
Push the knees out . . .
Keep the hips down . . .
Keep the chest up
This type of focused intensity will allow you to be master over the weight, rather than the other way around.
Get a Good Night's SleepThe deadlift is an extremely taxing movement. It is probably the exercise on which you will move the most weight in the gym. In order to hit a new max poundage, you need to be operating on all cylinders. That means that you need to have had at least eight hours of sleep the night before. Doing so, will allow for a constant release of key hormones, such as grehlin, leptin and growth hormone. With these powerful compounds coursing through your system, you will be in a prime anabolic state when you step up to the bar.
Master the Hip Hinge
The hip hinge aspect of the deadlift allows you to maintain the stability of your lower back and fully activate your core, which is where your body's emanates from. If you lose stability through your core, you will not be able to handle heavy loads.
You already have a natural curvature to your lower back. The hip hinge attempts to maintain that natural curvature throughout your lift. In order to do this, you need to ensure that all of the movement comes from the hips. This will give you the mobility to get into position without compromising stability.
When you descend down to the bar to start the deadlift, move your hips back and down, just as if you were doing a squat descent. There should be no knee movement. A problem for many people here is lack of hamstring flexibility. To solve this, you need to improve hamstring flexibility with specific movements to achieve this. This clip will show you how . . .
Do Deficit Deadlifts
A good coach will make you train harder than you face on game day, so that when it counts, you'll actually find the physical exertion needed easier. Using deficit deadlifts follows the same logic. It involves standing on a platform as you deadlift. This makes you stretch down further and go through a greater range of motion. The effect of this will be that you will boost your beginning strength. When you go back to a conventional deadlift, your mind will see it as easier.
Because deficit deadlifts are a lot harder, you should only do these once every month. It is also imperative that you thoroughly warm up by doing the stretching and warm up exercises described above.
Train Your Grip
This one won't reap immediate benefits in the next couple of weeks but, over the long haul, it will be crucial to your ongoing progressive resistance increments on the deadlift. Just make sure to do these moves at least 48 hours apart from your deadlifting. Here are three super effective exercises to train grip . . .
Take a hold of a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and hold them at arm's length by your sides. Now, simply walk up and down the length of your gym. As you go, squeeze the handles as much as you can. Keep going until they literally fall out of your hands.
Take hold of an Olympic weight plate, holding it only by the thumb and forefinger of one hand. Hold it out in front of you, with your elbow tightly at your side. Keep the weight at chest level for as long as you can, then repeat with the other side.
Take hold of a hexagonal dumbbell with just one hand. Your palm should be over the top of the dumbbell end with the tips of your fingers curled over the hexagonal sides. Extend your arm out in front of you and hold for as long as you can.
Deadlifting No No's
1. Improper arms, shoulder and hip movement - When they are bringing the bar up to the top position, you'll see some people roll their shoulders back and over extend their hips forward. You don't want to be doing this. Rolling your shoulders will put unnecessary stress on the spine. Extending the hips forward is going to put pressure on the lumbar, which can also lead to injury.
2. Using the arms to activate the lift - Some people will bend the arms to try to get the bar up. Don't do this. Rather, keep the arms straight throughout the lift. Push the hips through and squeeze the glutes, but do not over extend the hips.
3. Not performing the deadlift part of the exercise properly - The starting position is having the weight sitting on the floor. Grab the weight, lift it up and then set it down between each rep. Some people will start from the top and then go down and up without engaging a full range of motion. It is critical, then, that the bar rests on the ground for about a second between every single rep.
4. Keeping the hips too low - You'll see people get into deadlift position as if they are about to perform a squat. Their hips are in line with their knees. That is wrong. You want your hips to be slightly higher than the knee. Remember that with a squat you need to imagine that you are sitting in a chair. With a deadlift, however, imagine that you are in a bowing position. This will keep your hamstrings tight and activated. They will be ready to assist you in the lift. If you are too low, however, you have to come up into the activated position before they can help you. Also, when you are lifting low, you have a much greater chance of banging your shins on the bar.
5. Rounding the back - Rounding your back while deadlifting is the quickest route to life-long spinal troubles. There are two key reasons that it may happen. Firstly, you are letting the weight pull you as opposed to you pulling the weight. To prevent this, you need to contract your lats and shoulders back while keeping your back straight and your chest up. The second reason for rounded back deadlifting is incorrect bar to feet placement. If the bar is too far in front of you, you will have unnecessary strain just in order to pick up the bar. To correct this, you need to have the bar sitting right over the middle of your feet. This optimal placement allows you to go up and down in a parallel line.
6. Lifting gear overload - There is nothing wrong with lifting straps and a weight belt. In fact, if you are trying to break a record, these can really help you to focus on lifting the weight as opposed to not having enough grip strength. But you don't want to get into the habit of relying on the belt and the straps. If you can pick up a 45-pound plate without lifting straps then don't rely on straps. You also don't want to over rely on the over under grip. Stick with an over hand grip without the straps and belt to aid with lower back support and grip strength.
If you have issues with your knees, you'll benefit by also wearing a quality pair of knee sleeves as you deadlift. Get the scoop on where to find the best sleeves on the market with this comprehensive overview.
7. Wrong shoes - With deadlifts you want flat soled shoes. You don't want anything with lifts or filled with gel or air. You heels need to be as low to the ground as possible.
In this article, you have discovered a whole host of ways that you can keep making steady progress on your deadlift. Put them into practice from tomorrow onwards, and you will definitely smash out an extra 10% on your one rep poundage over the next 14 days. Keep doing them and you should be up by 50% in six months. That will make you stronger - and bigger - than you ever imagined.