In my years of powerlifting, deadlifting was my opponent. I hated it, mainly because I was sucking on it. I had terrible levers and could not figure out how to do it.
But when I'm decent, I have a lot of information about what worked and what was a waste of time. So if you are frustrated with your deadlift, take care. That helped me overcome the 600 and 700 pound mark, and it will help you too.
Do Nothing – Rack Deadlifts
I like rack deadlifts for the upper back, but not to specifically enhance the deadlift. People say it will "fix your lockout" and make it less sticky, but that's probably not exactly.
If they actually helped, then the likely explanation is that they had a faint upper back and it limited their ability to stabilize the rear chain. The majority of people find themselves in a completely different position when pulling with the frame or block than when they pull off the ground in that range of motion.
And any variation of a major movement where you can use more than about 10% of the maximum load is not as transferable. Here's an example:
- Gym Bro has a maximum deadlift of 500 pounds.
- Gym Bro opts for rack deadlifts, and he can use 600 pounds for reps.
- Gym Bro does not notice that the rack deadlift leads to it The positions are different from the regular deadlift positions.
- Gym Bro later goes back to deadlifts to find that his deadlift has not improved.
- Gym Bro is annoying and sad.
Why does not it work since it should strengthen a sticking point? Newsflash: Training your detention point at the detention point itself is pointless. And that's a lot of points.
The problem area is not the sticking point itself. Only a few inches before the sticking point, you can not generate enough force (the speed at which you can move the load) to reach the sticking point.
DO This – Get heavily under your clinging point
If you want to defeat an attachment point, look for a way to complicate that movement in the previous area. Now rise in this area of the movement area. So you will eventually crush this plateau.
"But have not I used rack pulls?"
Not if you train the rack or block pull in a different position than you would with your normal deadlift … and especially with a load of more than 10% of your maximum deadlift, or train the block / rack train at your sticking point with the normal deadlift.
These are the most common problems For guys using block or rack pulls, I say it's something you probably should not do to improve your deadlift.
If you use the rack or block pull to create a stronger upper back, you still want to stick to the rule of not using loads that go beyond the area you can lift from the ground. Instead, do it with good shape, slower eccentrics (negatives), and sets in the range of 6-10 reps. Here again, I suggest the use of ligaments, as this will make the thorax expanders work like never before.
Do not Do It – Extra Lower Back Work
The spine erectors have the longest recovery time in a muscle group. The deadlift and squats strain the low to a significant degree. And if you do something like front squats and deadlifts with stiff legs or walks with farmers or … well, you have the point. There is literally no reason to tackle the direct work in the lower back, such as hyperextensions and the like.
In fact, the execution of such work could be the real problem with the plateau you are experiencing. For this reason, I strongly recommend lifting squats and deadlifts during the week on the same day of training. Because it provides adequate recovery time for the lower back for the rest of the week.
DO This – Build your upper back, your lats and hams
Show me a guy with a big deadlift and I'll show it you're a guy who can chin and row. Sure, there are going to be some really fat guys who can pull on big and do no chins, but the average guy needs to build up strength throughout the upper back if he wants to lift big weights.
Which lifts should you use for your body? Lats and back? Choose those that allow a high level of progressive overload and that you really enjoy doing. It is up to you to find out these things through experience.
As for the thigh muscles, I went with the stiff leg lift from a large deficit and the good morning.
Steifbein deadlift from deficit
I trained them with completely different modalities. I found that the stiff leg crews were something I could push the load on, but I kept the good mornings light and concentrated on the track.
No other lift built my rear chain like stiff leg crew from a 4-inch diameter deficit. From the upper back to erectors to the thigh muscles, this was my goal for the total chain destruction of the back chain. I ended up working on over 600 pounds for iterations.
On a good morning, I kept the load in the range of 185 to 225 pounds, even though my deadlift was consistently over 700. That's the difference in how you should approach the load if you decide to include these two lifts as part of your lifter program.
Do not Do This – High Volume or High Revision Sets
The deadlift is a movement that is "more than there". It is intrusive, perhaps more than any other compound movement. No buoyancy causes a greater amount of "training hangovers" than heavy and hard deadlifting.
Why? Most trainers say it's the direct attachment of hands to the bar and the impact on the spine and autonomic nervous system. They also believe that this causes a strong stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, which depresses the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a massive impairment of systemic recovery.
All this is a theory, but it seems to be true. Especially after a heavy day of deadlifting. But beyond theory, science shows us that volume is not really the driver of strength gains. Neurological adaptation to moving loads at higher speeds or moving larger intensities in a buoyancy are the main drivers for improving strength.
There are literally no reasons to perform heavily used deadlift exercises. The same goes for trying to do 12 (more than 12) repetitions. Both are fantastic ways to get your feet off the ground.
DO This – Sets of 3 to 5 reps
If you want to build maximum strength in deadlift, sets of three to five should include you bread and butter. I just told you why you should stay away from high volumes and repetition rates, so let's assume. There is nothing else to see here.
Do not do that – Walk too often (too often)
You should not train your deadlift on the regular body. Here is a common scenario:
- Gym Bro is deadlifting.
- Gym Bro sees his deadlift go up week by week.
- Gym Bro is gaining more and more weight as the deadlift feels very masculine and wild.
- Gym Bro sees his deadlift and actually regression.
- Gym Bro is upset about why this happened and becomes sad (again).
- Gym Bro stops deadlifting for a while and later goes back to it. He sees the deadlift numbers rise again, does not learn from the last time and sees again that it comes to a standstill and retreats. The Sads continue.
I have heard this story more often than I can count. The deadlift has this potential to increase very rapidly and due to the slow recovery of the lower back the lifter does not consider the need for recovery as the intensity increases. Since the requirement of local recovery (the erector) is not met, the performance is masked by fatigue. Therefore, the deadlift tanks and the lifter do not know why.
DO This – Using a Minor Deficit
This was probably the most prolific change I made during my competition in my deadlift training. There is a belief that deadlifting improves the force on the ground with a large deficit (about 4 inches or so). It will not be It's the same problem I raised with rack deadlifts above and how the position you are in is too different to move to your traditional deadlift.
With a very low deficit (my goal was on a normal 45-pound pound) plate, the positioning is pretty much the same, but it makes the start of the lift a bit heavier.
See how all this is in a row?
- Make starting the elevator a bit more difficult.
- Keep movement patterns similar.
- Get a high level of transfer to the lift itself.
Deadlift monster Chris Duffin taught me this principle a while ago. He had stayed on mats for months. We're talking about a half inch deficit here.
Then he was dumped another weekend at another location where there were no mats. He wondered again and again why the weights felt so much lighter than usual. Then it dawned on him that he pulled away from the floor and what a huge difference it made (much easier off the floor after standing on the mats).
After I found out, I was never lifted off the ground in training. It was always a small deficit. The only time I go from the ground to the ground would be on the day of the rally.
Let me say again, if the words are hard. I trained the entire training cycle from a small deficit, and the only time I jumped was on the day of the competition.
Do not do that – Train like good deadlifters, of course
That's a common problem with guys sucking deadlifts. They look at guys who are naturally deadlifted and try to copy what they do.
If you're built like a T-Rex and try to copy the training style of a man who's built like a chimpanzee then you're probably going to be a very angry lifter.
People do not understand the importance of one or two inches in the range of motion of a lift. A lifter who finishes his deadlift with the lockout just above the knee has a lot of leverage over the guy ending his lockout in the middle of the thigh. And the guy with the thigh has a lot of advantages over the guy ending up with his locker buried in his crotch.
This does not mean that every guy who has good leverage for deadlifting does not have big gems to train. Andy Bolton was blessed for big deadlifts, but his ideas on how to properly train him greatly influenced my own lifting.
But the mile-long guy who pulls max singles for social media several times a week is not the type you are. I have to train as if your friends call you stubby.
DO This – Train the Deadlift explosively
This was another change I made, eventually pushing my deadlift past the 700 series. Since I was a really crappy crusader, I stopped trying to simulate the training of guys built for deadlifts. My levers claimed that I needed to train the deadlift so that it "came to me" in some way.
This meant that it was mostly trained in an explosive way, with submaximal loading and picking a few places here and there to pull in the near maximum range. In other words, really letting my ego stand at the door and doing the best I can to improve my strength, not just social media every week.
I spent most of my crossover work in the range of 70-80% my sets of 3-5 reps. The work sets were never more than 2. My goal for each training session was to reach up to 90% of my goal and make it a very explosive triple. If I could smash 90% of my goal for a fast triple I would reach my PR target position later with some margin.
For example …
- Week 1: 65% x 2 sets of 5
- Week 2: 70% x 2 sets of 5
- Week 3: 73 % x 2 sets of 3
- Week 4: 75% x 2 sets of 3
- Week 5: 80% x 2 sets of 3
- Week 6: 83% x 2 sets of 3
- Week 7: 85% x 2 sets of 2
- Week 8: 90% x 1 set of 3
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