There’s not much that defines real world strength like picking up something heavy off the ground. As a result, if you want to be “real world” strong, then the deadlift needs to be a part of your program. However, you don’t want to just deadlift – you want to be able to pull as much weight as you possibly can. Below are a few deadlift techniques that will help you do so.
Use an “Over / Under” Grip
This is the most basic of deadlift techniques from the powerlifting world, but many bodybuilders and everyday gym goers don’t do it. Instead of gripping the bar with an “over / over” grip (i.e. – both of your palms facing you), use an “over / under” grip where one palm faces you while the other palm faces away.
It doesn’t matter which is which, as “over / under” is just as effective as “under / over” – the key point is that you’re using a mixed grip. These opposing grips allow you to pull a heavier weight off the floor without straps, thus making it preferable to standard bodybuilding-style deadlifting. Just make sure to alternate so as to avoid muscular imbalances which we covered in this deadlift grip article.
“Spread Your Chest”
Another one of the most basic of deadlift techniques is to keep your chest up and back arched. Doing so engages more of the muscles of the upper back, which allows you to lift more weight. However, sometimes this might not feel natural – especially if you’re not experienced. One way to mentally keep yourself on track is to concentrate on “spreading your chest”.
It’s another way of saying keeping your chest up and back arched, but paints a clearer picture in some lifters’ minds. By trying to keep your chest “spread”, you’ll want to always be pulling your shoulders back, and this will put you into proper position almost by default.
Don’t Shoot Your Butt in the Air
If you’re inexperienced or lack sufficient muscle memory, then you’ll often want to shoot your butt in the air when you get tired. This will happen just before you go to pull the bar off the floor. Instead of driving through your heels and almost thrusting forward with the hips, your butt will go straight into the air and you’ll pull with your lower back.
Keep a strong mental cue to not do this, as this not only targets the wrong musculature, but is a quick way to get injured. Concentrating on keeping your head looking forward and the chest spread can help minimize this, as your hips have to be low in order to do either one.
Choose Your Deadlift Style Based on Your Body Type
The most important of deadlift techniques that will improve your max is the actual style of deadlift you choose to perform. If you’re a taller and lankier lifter, a traditional deadlift style with feet at shoulder-width and arms outside the knees is a better idea for you. This is because you can better utilize the leverage that comes along with your longer limbs.
Conversely, if you’re on the shorter side, sumo style deadlifts are usually a better choice. This is because since you don’t have the leverage to take advantage of, you can instead utilize a shorter range of motion provided by a wider stance and gripping the bar with your hands closer together. You’ll also be able to pull heavier as you’ll be able to engage the hips and glutes much more.
Whatever style you end up doing, make sure you embrace as many of these deadlift techniques as you can. You’ll not only be able to pull more weight, but your overall form will be better, meaning much less chance of injury and more muscle built.