9 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlift
1. Don’t forget about the squat
You are too focused on this repetitive hip-dominant motion without working the muscles on the other side of your body. You soon discover your form favors the hips, putting you at risk for hyper-extension and hitting a plateau.
You’ll never be able to maximize your deadlift unless you are playing the balancing act by performing dedicated squats. The deadlift is a primarily hip-dominant movement.
Short and sweet: You need to strengthen your quads. Your quads can assist you in maximizing your deadlift as they drive your body up, prevent rounding of the back, and ensure proper hip-to-knee form. Try this out to break your plateau:
- 6 to 8 weeks
- Squatting: Heavy weights only (2-3x per week)
- Deadlifting: Lower to moderate weight (50 to 80% 1RM)
- Focus on speed pulls: 3-5 sets of 1-3 repetitions
2. Change it up
Everyone has his or her weaknesses. The deadlift is no different. While one guy may be strongest from the floor, someone else may be more powerful at the lockout.
Variety is the key to improving your overall deadlift, ensuring you can start in a number of different positions and still pull the same weight. Incorporate some of the following exercises into your routine and change it up every few weeks. Make sure to vary the weight as well as the sets to repetitions.
- Deficit Deadlift
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift
- Block pull
- Pause/Exaggerated Deadlift
- Good Morning
- Barbell Hip Thrust
- Kettlebell Swing
- Pull Through
3. Spend a lot of time with the deadlift
You want to experience a huge boost in power and strength in your deadlift but you find that during your normal workout routine, you are falling short or staying the same.
Building off of the two tips above: Once you’ve completed a few weeks dedicating yourself to the squat, it’s time to go all in with the deadlift. For a 6 to 8 week period, try out this heavy lifting program:
- 2 weeks: 3 sets of 3-5 repetitions
- 2 weeks: 3 x 2-3 (increase the weight)
- 2 weeks: 3 x 1 (increase the weight)
Note: Since you’re lifting heavy with the deadlift, don’t lift heavy during your squats. When squatting, perform speed squats with 50-80% of your 1RM. Try it out for 3 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions.
4. Switch your stance
Whether you’re lacking in strength, power, endurance, or size, you find yourself sticking to the same stance over and over again.
The two primary stances that weight lifters will use are sumo and conventional. Chances are, you only utilize one of these. Time to switch it up. Complete a 6 to 8 week program of deadlifts in the stance that you tend to avoid. Afterward, make sure you incorporate both into your workouts.
5. Use stop reps to get ahead
You are unhappy with the amount of power you are producing from the bottom of the lift.
Nothing builds power quite like pause or exaggerated repetitions. As you perform your set of deadlifts, stop at the bottom of the lift. This is a very uncomfortable exercise but it pays off big time. Also incorporate box jumps, sprints, and front squats to your routine. Athletic movements will help build explosiveness.
6. Boost your lockout strength
Everything looks good at the beginning but as you move through the deadlift, your lockout becomes increasingly worse. Whether you have a rough start or a habit of swaying to and fro, your lockout suffers and you can’t complete the exercise as you should.
In order to start making strides towards improving and perfecting your lockout, you need to focus on strengthening it. Try the following exercises and keep an intense focus on form throughout:
- Weighted Back Extensions
- More Deadlifting
- Chain Deadlifts
- Hip Thrusts
- Band Deadlifts
- Heavy Block Pulls
- Heavy Rack Pulls
7. Build power from the floor
While you may shine when starting on the blocks, your kryptonite is starting from the floor.
True strength is built by starting from the floor. It will dramatically improve your ability to move the bar and lockout. Start using the following exercises in your program to improve your strength from the floor.
- Pause Deadlifts
- Narrow Grip Deadlifts
- Wide Grip Deadlifts
- Box Jumps
- Front Squats
- Paused Front Squats
- Leg Press, Single Leg Press
- Short Sprints
8. Focus on grip strength
You load the barbell with a respectable amount of weight, knowing full well that you possess the ability to perform an easy 10 to 12 reps. Halfway through, the burning and intensity that should be in your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings – is in your forearms and hands. Your grip fails long before your muscles do.
You could take the easy way out and start using lifting straps, but you want to be proud of your hard work, so lifting straps just don’t cut it. There’s nothing like the feeling of having the ability to get through a range of sets on your own. The following exercises will improve grip strength. Incorporate a few in your training. Make sure to switch it up every 4 to 6 weeks.
- One Arm Dumbell Row, High Reps
- Farmer’s Walk
- Open Hand Pull-ups
- High Rep Barbell Shrugs
- Heavy Barbell Shrugs
- Bent-Over Rows
- Dumbbell Shrugs
9. Obsess over technique
You’re afraid of injury yet you want to increase the amount of weight you’re moving. You’ve worked on your grip strength but you’re still lacking in power and raw strength.
While it’s important to follow the other 8 tips, adding variety to your workout and making sure you’re hitting each muscle front to back, the number one thing to watch for is your form. You can hit the deadlifts five times a week but if your technique isn’t up to par, don’t expect any real results.
Become obsessive with your technique. Train in front of the mirror and focus on your form as if your life depended on it. Make sure each repetition is as flawless as the last.
Enlist the help of a nearby gym rat to have them keep an eye on your technique as you go through the movement. Repeating the same exercise over and over again with exact form will guarantee that it becomes automatic in the future.
Mass and Strength Building Deadlift Program
Note: Do your regular warmups prior to doing the work sets or speed sets.
|1||(70%) x 3 Reps|
|2||(75%) x 3 Reps|
|3||(80%) x 3 Reps|
|4||(90%) x 2 Reps|
|5||(95%) x 1 Rep|
|6||(80%) x 4 Reps|
|7||(85%) x 3 Reps|
|8||(92.5%) x 2 Reps|
|9||(97.5%) x 1 Rep|
|10||(100%) x 1 Rep|
WEEKS 1-9: 4-5 sets
|Exercise||Rep count||Rest Interval|
|Stiff Leg Deadlifts||6 Reps||90-120 Seconds|
|Dumbbell Row||6 Reps||90-120 Seconds|
|Weighted Pull Ups||6 Reps||90-120 Seconds|
|Hanging Leg Raises||Max Reps||60 Seconds|
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