I had some time between clients this evening, so rather than read another article discussing the oncoming doom of the American economy I figured it would be much more fulfilling and productive to handout a few tips on how anyone can improve their deadlift performance.
1. Deadlift with picture perfect form.
-Your feet should be slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart, and the bar should be against your shins.
-Keep your chest tall, brace yourself using your abdominals (like preparing to take a punch), and sit back into position, arch the lower back as forcefully as possible while keeping your shoulder blades smashed together (like your pinching a pencil between them). From here I cue everyone to push their hips backwards until they can grab the bar, avoid any motion that resembles squatting down.
-Once you have gripped the bar, squeeze it like your mean to crush the metal while simultaneously squeezing your shoulders backwards and down. This allows you to engage the lats as well as activate the fascia which connects between the thoracic and lumbar spine increasing the spines stability. If done correctly one should feel quite a bit of tension in the hamstrings and up into the glutes.
-Be sure to keep your chin tucked in and look at a spot about 8 feet ahead of you on the floor, fixating on it for the remainder of the exercise.
-Begin by keeping your elbows firmly locked and driving your weight into your heels and your heels into the floor. As you begin to pull the bar and ascend be sure that the hips and shoulders move in sync. Hips moving before the shoulders can have disastrous consequences.
-Once the bar has ascended past the knees all that is left to do is extend the hips and lock out the top position for the finish. This is done by firing your glutes and pushing your hips through to the wall in front of you.
-For most this is the portion of the lift that seems to be the most difficult. Do not break your knees rather begin the descent by breaking at the hips. Begin by sitting back allowing the height to reside in the heel of the foot, while allowing the bar to slid down the front of your thighs.
-Do not lose the tight arch you have created in your lower back and don't allow the shoulders to pitch forward and round.
2. Pull Frequently and Heavy
Please do not take this tip out of context and begin lifting heavy every day of the freaking week. I simply mean that if you want to master the deadlift and become a much stronger deadlifter you need to maybe deadlift some.
In my opinion you should try and pull at least once per week. I also believe you must begin with a low-rep protocol somewhere between 1 and 6 reps. Strength in the beginning is associated with increase in the Central Nervous System's ability to recruit muscle fibers. Hence the reason why people see improvements very quickly in strength before body composition begins to change at all.
I hardly ever deadlift for more than five reps because anything more than that often results in terrible, unrecognizable form.
3. Take off your shoes
This recommendation comes on the heels of finishing the awesome book Born to Run which shines a great light on to the shoe industry and the sham that has been created regarding our footwear.
Without shoes you are about 3inches closer to the ground, which means thats 3inches less the bar must travel. By taking off your shoes it also allows you to pull more effectively through your heels and increase glute and hamstring recruitment.
Run. But these three tips should go a long way in helping your deadlift. I have a few more tips regarding the deadlift and for anyone who would like to have them please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to pass the rest of the list along.