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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
The Deadlift Setup

This is how I think about my deadlift technique.

1. I visualise the ideal ending position - what it should look like, what it feels like
2. I do the same with the starting position
3. I figure out how to move from #2 to #1 in the most efficient manner

The deadlift setup is simply a way to enter the ideal starting position as described above. There are many ways to do so, but I'll show you mine as an example. You can copy the whole thing, or adapt parts of it to suit yours. All I'm doing is to attach myself to the bar with maximal tension and wedge myself between the ground and the bar with maximal tightness. That is the intention.

Please note that the setup I'm about to show you consists of high tension techniques. The tension you can build on the bar will make it only applicable to relatively heavy weights, as you need the bar to be of at least a certain weight or else the tension from the setup alone will make the bar pop off the ground. To give you an example, when I do this as a 73kg (161lb), I need the bar to be at least 110kg (242lb) or around 1.5xBW, or else it would simply get squeezed off the ground. If you apply it to a light weight, it will not work particularly well.

A common mistake before setup even begins

Here's something very special about the deadlift. Unlike squat or bench (or many other lifts), there is no eccentric, as the bar starts from a dead position on the floor. You can set up with 110kg the exact same way you would with 300kg. Before the bar leaves the ground, there is no difference between the two. Logically, this is simple.

However, in practice, as I fixed my own deadlift and looked at others, one thing jumped out: most would look very good with a light weight in the starting position, but with a heavy weight, they look retarded. It is as if gravity from the heavier bar already sucks them into it: their back rounds, their chest collapses, their arms are too bent and tense, everything looks horrible. And the bar has yet to move, so it can't be the weight!

What causes it? Fear. As the bar is very heavy, they get super tense before even grabbing the bar, which makes it impossible to get into a good position. All those tensions they built before grabbing the bar? They're in the wrong places, and would be the slack in arms, shoulders, back etc. that I mentioned before in the starting position. The moment the bar leaves the ground, their tightness would be gone in a flash.

What fixes it? Relax your body, shake your arms and legs out. Especially, relax your shoulders. I remember reading that in many deadlift manuals, including Andy Bolton's, and found it really odd at the time. Relax, get into the good starting position, THEN tighten up. This is exactly why your setup with a warmup weight looks better than your work sets, before the bar even gets lifted. Relaxing before setting up will also improve your confidence with the weight too, as I've found.

With that in mind, here's my full setup for a conventional deadlift (my sumo is similar for the upper body):

* Check that plates are loaded evenly
* Stand centered of the bar - pause (1)
* Set right foot (straight, maybe 5 degree turn out) - pause
* Set left foot - pause
* Stand up tall - pause
* Relax shoulders and upper body, shake the arms loose - pause
* Screw shoulders down and put them in the side pockets, flare the lats - pause
* Slow descent while keeping the shoulders in that position, with chest up and only glancing down with the eyes, only go down just enough to get the bar
* Hook right hand, pull the slack out of right arm - pause (2)
* Hook left hand, pull the slack out of left arm - pause
* Flare the lats again to tighten up
* Up to here, you should look and feel very similar to the position with the 2 KBs, except that you're now bending over.
* Big air into the abs, NOT chest (3)
* Hip kick, big explosion in abs, kicking hard with the feet into the ground at the same time (my feet burn when I lift) -> lift off the ground
* Quads stay tight to provide a platform for the glutes to slam through as soon as the bar clears the knees.
* Pull chin back (aka give yourself a double chin) at lockout to finish with authority

Note1: adding pauses (1 sec is good enough) to your setup makes each step deliberate, and easier to reproduce & diagnose. Try it with any lift, and see the difference.
Note2: I hook-grip
Note3: from here onwards is the lift-off, which I'll cover in more details in the next post.

This is the setup I mostly learned from Reactive Training System deadlift technique seminar, minus the part about the hook grip and relaxing prior to setup. If you want to see the full breakdown with analysis, I suggest getting their DVD, or trying searching on Youtube. It was taught by Jeremy Hartman.

I realise this is something best done with a video example, but I don't quite want to put mine in public at the moment. If you want to see how I actually do it in conventional and sumo (real training videos, not instructional), PM me.

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04-14-2015 09:37 AM
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RE: The "Do You Even Deadlift" Clinic - StrikeBack - 04-14-2015 09:37 AM

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