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The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
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StrikeBack Offline
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RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic
== Tips for lifters with short arms ==

Having long arms benefits the deadlift greatly. You will gain a more favourable torso (back) angle, hips will be closer to the bar, the ROM will be less etc. Lifters with longer arms relative to torso and legs tend to be better at the deadlift than others at similar bodyweights.

This doesn't mean that if you're born with shorter arms, you're screwed when it comes to the deadlift though! There are plenty of ways to gain inches on arm length, and for a limited time only, you can buy these pills, with 4 easy weekly payments, that will... oh wait, wrong thread Smile

If you think you have short arms, this post is for you, although it will benefit the long armed lifters as well (but don't tell them, those bastards have it easy already).

I'll give you the mindset, strategy and understanding first, then the actual actionable tips. Those apply whether you lift conventional, half sumo or full sumo.

1. It's not about arm length, it's about reach

To fix your issues, you need to realise that it's about how far you can reach down, in order to maintain a torso angle as close to upright as possible, and have your hips as close to the bar as possible. While this may imply long arms, it actually means long reach and those two aren't necessarily the same. I first realised this when watching an elite deadlifter pull, and his shoulders dropped way below normal positions as he set up, which meant he could reach much further down, with the same arm length. I'd always thought he naturally had very long arms, which was true, but when we actually compared arm length directly, his were only slightly longer than mine.

All the tips that follow pretty much focus on this single realisation.

2. It's the same as having a good relaxed posture

While I was working on improving my reach, I happened to be doing yoga at the same time. I found out that everything I did in yoga to improve my posture was the same stuff that would increase my reach and improve mobility for the deadlift.

So while you might be doing the stretches for the deadlift, you should be doing them anyway for your posture.

The good news is that you don't have to do them too often. At first, you might need to work on them daily and intensely for 4-6 weeks, but once your body learns how to relax and settle into a good posture, you will only have to occasionally stretch to maintain.

3. Stretches

You can do these at any time you need: before lifting, between warmup sets, between work sets, during warm downs.

You should be doing them anyway if you lift at all, but often people skip these because they're lazy (myself included).

Pecs: tight chest would pull your arms and shoulders up, reducing downward reach. Do the door way stretch, downward dog (against floor or wall) or any good pec stretch you can find.

Lats: tight lats also pull your shoulders and arms up like tight chest. Stretch your lats. I do this during breaks at work:

Triceps: tight elbows, shorter reach. My favourite is to use the rolling barbell sleeve (bar must be empty for this to work) to roll the triceps.

Traps: tight traps pull your shoulders up, which is why you shouldn't do shrugs. Use a massage ball, or the same rolling barbell sleeve above.

Neck: plenty of stretches on and other sites. It helps you to drop the shoulders down more.

Hip flexors: the closer you can get your hips to the bar, the less you have to bend over. There are plenty of stretches for this on the Internet, just google.

Note: those same stretches are the same to get into a front squat with a clean grip. If you find yourself able to do so, it means you have improved your deadlift setup as well.

4. Drills and other tips

Learn how to do scapula depression, because it will pull your shoulders down closer to the bar. Best way (and also a kind of stretch) is to grab 2 heavy-ish kettlebells, as if you're about to do farmer's walk, and just stand there in the neutral position, letting the KBs pull the shoulders and scapula down. This is a fantastic way to feel how "long" your arms can reach.

Deadlift a light weight like 135lb up, do a very slight shrug then let the bar pull your shoulders and arms down. Repeat for 5-8 reps. This has a similar effect to the KBs above.

Pull your chin back so your neck is in a neutral position to your spine. This will drop your shoulders and arms down, and also relax you into a good posture.

Relax your arms and shoulders while setting up, because relaxed arms and shoulders can be longer. Only build tension after you've already grabbed the bar and are about to lift.

Try learning the hook grip, as it will improve your reach (see post above).

Tricky: slightly internally rotate your shoulders (like a cork screw motion i.e similar to a punch) while going down to grab the bar, but do so without collapsing your chest in. This will increase your reach a tiny bit, but it all counts. Goes very well with a hook grip.

With all of those work, I've gone from a guy people instantly comment on with "oh you have short arms, you must struggle with the deadlift" to one where the short armed guys would say "damn you have long arms". That is until we measure arms and find out that ours are the same length.

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05-05-2015 09:10 AM
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RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic - StrikeBack - 05-05-2015 09:10 AM

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