A deeper look at the deadlift

The deadlift… ah the deadlift – the Holy Grail for strength training, and arguably the greatest test of full body and functional strength there is. The deadlift tests the strength of the whole body, from legs right through to your grip and it will take no mercy when highlighting areas of weakness when the weight gets more challenging.

So what does the perfect deadlift look like?

The perfect deadlift can differ from person to person and will also depend on what style of deadlift you choose, conventional or sumo. However, a few common truths will apply to all variations. The ideal starting position will have your hips above knees and shoulders above hips. Your lower back will be locked into a neutral lordotic curve (commonly referred to as a straight back) and your thoracic spine (upper back) will be extended.

The perfect deadlift will have you hold this position throughout the first portion of the lift, from the floor to just above the knee. From here you will extend the hips (bring them forward) with the shoulders coming up at the same rate, locking yourself into a solid upright position with your chest up and shoulders behind the bar.

This is an ideal world scenario. As the weight reaches near maximal then form is of course going to fail and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (in experienced lifters). The point at which your form fails merely highlights areas you need to work on if you wish to lift heavier weights with “perfect” form.

Improve your back strength

For most people, particularly in beginners, their limiting factor in the deadlift is going to be upper back and grip strength. So if you are serious about getting stronger, ensure you employ plenty of work to improve these.

Think rows… lots and lots of rows – single arm rows, bent over rows, prone rows, seated row… it doesn’t really matter, just so long get your back (and grip) as strong as possible!

Work those Hamstrings.

The next area of focus for many people will be their hamstrings. These play an important part in the initial part of the movement, as the bar leaves the ground, and ensure your hips don’t rise too early leaving your lower back to do all the work.

Again the stronger you can make these the better equipped you will be to maximise your efficiency and strength in this movement. My personal favourites include Glute/Ham raises and Romanian Deadlifts.

If lock out, or final portion of the movement, is your problem then your glutes may not be pulling their weight (literally) and a little more focus on getting them strong would benefit you hugely. Weighted hip bridges work well here as do rack pulls. Just make sure you focus on squeezing the backside here and building that derriere.

All in all, the road to a bigger deadlift is balancing the body and making sure that it if all as strong as possible, leaving no obvious weak points. It’s worth the time and energy invested, as a strong deadlift is a ticket to strong and functional body.

A video for this exercise can be seen on our youtube channel>>The deadlift

By Rob @W10