Here are a few things I've done to improve the lift and some items that you may want to give a try in your training and add into your gym bag.
Believe it or not, most of the time when people suck at the deadlift, it's more than likely because their technique is garbage and their body is getting in the way of them successfully pulling decent weight. Step one should always be to refine your technique, get to a point where it looks consistent and you're not doing anything to work against your anatomy (if ya know what I mean. *wink wink, nudge nudge*) and don't reinvent the wheel. Follow other lifters who are similar builds to you who lift big weight and heed their advice.
Sometimes the limiting factor is staring you right in the face. Your hands will more than likely be much weaker than your glutes, hams, quads, and back. Or you have very thin, breakable skin on your hands and they are constantly getting really torn up. In this situation you may want to implement some basic tools to save your mitts a bit.
Some of the cooler gyms have these in big buckets ready to go for you. Use as much as you want type of situation. Other's allow you to bring them in and clean up your residue when you leave, and in the later situation, having a little gladware of chalk can save your paws a bit.
If you train at a gym that's a bit of a stickler when it comes to "unnecessary messes" you may want to go for a type of grip help that won't as big of a lasting impression. In these situations some liquid chalk is the perfect solution. There's even one that can be hooked onto your key chain. So now you got an interesting conversation starter should some one over look your crappy looking car keys and see the strange lube container attached on the loop (LOL.)
These suckers have become a fashion accessory in most gyms, but if you're a serious barbell athlete or need your hands operating at a decent level (I've trained pianists and orchestral musicians who have spoken about such worries) then these become more than something that dangles from your hands like a goofy bracelet, then become a necessity. So take care of yo shit, brother.
However, one would argue that grip shouldn't be a factor because you should just become stronger and faster, that way you're not having to hold onto that weight for longer than a few seconds, rather than trying to grind out lengthy reps. So let's explore ways to get stronger.
Frequency...but not too heavy and not too much
Because of the nature of the lift, it is actually rather difficult to recover from frequent heavy deadlifts for the general population. However, in the beginning stages of your training, doing the movement more frequently is going to give you more practice with your technique and eventually you'll start to understand your own anatomy a lot better and will get out of your own way. But if you're lifting too heavy and too frequently you're going to derail progress on ALL of your lifts. So if you do want to increase your deadlift frequency, do it with varying levels of intensity. Or do lighter variations...
VariationsVariations stimulate your mind, incorporate different muscles, allow for flexibility in your training, and overall can be a lot of fun to dabble with here and there. They can also be great for working weak points in various parts of the lift: Starting off the floor, Upper back rounding, and the lockout.
- Stiff Leg Deadlift
- Dumbbell Deadlift
- HexBar Deadlift
- Sumo Deadlift
- Pause Deadlifts
- Snatch Grip Deadlifts
- Deficit Deadlifts
- Block Pulls/Rack Pulls
If you're pulling wearing anything other than chuck taylors, slippers, wrestling shoes, or vibrams, you're begging for a rolled ankle.
Vibrams: They Look Weird, but it's the closest you can get to pulling flat footed. Plus it's an interesting conversation piece...along with your lube...I mean liquid chalk.
Wrestling Shoes: They're pretty cool looking, plus if you used to wrestle in high school, you now have another purpose for those old warrior shoes you used to stomp around in.
Training with a belt has many benefits. The following picture was taken from an article by the genius powerlifter, Greg Nuckols called "The Belt Bible."
It's a rather thorough and colorful. So even though it contains smart people talk, I like to look at the pictures and feel the happiness it brings.
What's more fun than picking heavy shit off of the ground and putting it right back down? Nothing. So, get your Deadlift game into gear.
Until next time,
Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.
The Opera Bro