Power Strokes: Deadlifts


I’m not sure I really want to talk about deadlifting today…..

I got my self all hot and bothered thinking about the possible permutations of my chosen sub-title: Power Strokes.

If I wander off topic, well, just blame it on mean ole Mister Testosterone.

So, brace yourself, baby.

………oops… sorry.



Many guys don’t think twice about throwing a bunch of plates on a bar and pushing out a gazillion reps of bench presses….

But they won’t touch the bar to deadlift even light weight.

I hear a lot of different reasons from people why they won’t deadlift.

The bad back is always a popular one….

…… and I might buy it if they werent comin from the same guys who were benchin mobile homes.

I think it really comes down to pain.

Deadlifting involves all the muscle groups...
…. not just chest, not just back, not just arms, not just legs.

So the pain is all over too.

Well, ok…..
wrists, elbows, arms, back, legs, knees, shoulders all hurt.

Maybe not yer hair.

There is some risk involved…. and no spotter can rescue ya on a deadlift.

You lift it, or you don’t.

And no half reps, either… lock it out , or it don’t count.

Ask yourself why guys will do shrugs with heavy weight on a bar, but not dead lifts.

You figure they had to do at least one, each set….
………….. why not do em for reps?

Ok. We’ve established the relative unpopularity of the movement.

What we haven’t done is talk about why you should do them, and the right way to do them.

Speaking as a powerlifter,
….. there’s no movement that shows the all around strength of a lifter like deadlifts.

Because, as I said, it involves all the muscle groups.

If you have a weak grip, it’ll show up in your deadlift.

If you have weak legs, it’ll show up in your deadlift.

Any weak body part will be a liability to your deadlift.

Even a weak mind will hurt ya…. you must be able to concentrate!!

Working deadlifts into your routine will make you stronger, no doubt about it.

You can build excellent muscle mass in your hips, back, and traps.

They work smaller muscle groups you might otherwise be overlooking for heavy training.

They teach muscle discipline, focus and pain management.

And most importantly, they teach a concept I like to call “commitment”………..

It’s something I express all the time in the gym, when I tell someone to ‘commit to the lift’.

Lets just say you’re all ready to lift.

Your body is positioned correctly.

You’ve taken your breath, blocked your chest and abdomen, and you’ve come down for the bar.

It’s that second and a half between the time the bar leaves the floor,
— and the time your back and quads can fully kick in,
that calls for commitment.

Your shoulders, arms and glutes are taking much of the stress here.

It’s at that point that most deadlifts close to max fail….
……your mind convinces your muscles that the weight is too heavy.

This is where your concentration is key – you must override your ‘common sense’… and commit fully to the lift.

Drive through the pain, the doubt, the logic — commit to the lift.

I always like to remind people of the old adage about horse-jumping:
Most steeplechase inuries occur from people pulling up short on the reins before a jump.

Once you’ve started, you gotta go through with it…
………. so you might as well get it right.

Lets’ talk about the proper form for deadlifting.

Your back should be slightly arched ( natural arch with head and shoulders back – never bent forward!)

Your knees should be almost parallel with the floor.

Your feet should be spread a little less than shoulder width, and toes pointed straight ahead. Too wide a stance, and your arms will bump your knees… too narrow, and your power can’t come fully into play.

Your hands should overhand grip the bar about shoulder width or more…
….. you can use an over-under grip for heavy weight.

Lock out your elbows by tightening your triceps.

Inhale, contracting your back and abs, and straighten your legs.

As the bar reaches your knees, move your torso back and up to vertical, exhaling as you do.

Drive through your heels, bringing your hips forward as your lift, so it feels more like a pushing movement than a pull.

Keep your back straight and slightly arched through the movement.

Never roll your shoulders when you top out.

Set the weight down on the floor before lifting it again. Don’t bounce it, or cheat the floor.

Blocking is an essential skill when deadlifting ….
………. and you’ll find a good block will allow your to lift heavier weights.

To review, blocking means sucking in some air, pushing your chest out, your shoulder in, and flexing your abdominals.

This supports your internal structure, and gives you more stability and concentration of power.

Some guys don’t use the inhale/exhale rule above- try it that way first, and them modify it if you want… just be sure you’re breathing!!!!!

I don’t recommend a weight belt- if it in any way impedes your breathing- but it will make you feel a little more confident about preserving the twins in proper order… although whether it really will or not, I have never actually had to find out (… thank heaven!!! ).

I do like wrist straps…. for a coupla reasons….
they keep your wrists in the proper position,
they hold my gloves on tight to my hand,
(some guys whine that gloves add lifting distance, well waaaaaah.)
they give you support of the bar or implement,
and they transfer some stress from your grip to your forearm.

If you keep working with these lifts, you soon might find deadlifts becoming your favorite movement.

That’s cause you’ll be making almost constant improvement and strength gains that will transfer into other movements as well.

Just remember my number one deadlifting rule:
Ass UP, Head Down (level with your shoulders) .

Now, go enjoy yerself.

HOY !!!!




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