Only one exercise builds thickness and a foundation of muscle unlike any other. It’s also probably the least done exercise. This of course is the deadlift.
As a powerlifter, I consider the deadlift as a measure of true strength. There is no equipment that can help and no momentum or eccentric motion that precedes the lift in order to help complete the rep. As a regular weightlifter though, you can find the deadlift to be the best tool to add slabs of muscle everywhere on your back. However, most people have never tried these because they’re either worried about hurting their back or the plain fact that the exercise taxes the entire body. If you’re one of these people, I’ve included some tips on how to properly do the lift in order to help you reach your goals.
When people first watch someone perform the deadlift, it may look it’s an easy lift to master. While it looks like all you do is walk up to the bar, bend down and pick it up this is the easiest way to hurt or strain your back. You must focus on the lift and make sure your technique is sound before putting any kind of weight on the bar. With that said, make sure you check your ego at the door when first start doing these otherwise it might be the only time you try them.
There are many things to consider before attempting to deadlift; foot width, hand placement and what equipment you’ll need. I deadlift conventional, which means I take a shoulder width stance. This style uses your spinal erectors, lats, traps, quads and glutes in unison when doing repetitions.
Hand placement is another thing to consider. I use the over under, which means one hand is gripped over top the bar and your opposite hand is gripped under the bar. This allows you to stabilize the bar on the way up and prevent it from rolling out of your hands.
The last thing to consider before doing deadlifts is what equipment you’ll use. What I mean by this is what belt to use and if you’ll use chalk or straps. A belt is a must for this lift. When choosing one, do so based on comfort and quality. I use a leather belt and after almost ten years it still looks brand new. I always suggest using chalk when working with heavier weight. If not, the bar will slip out of your hands with the first rep. Personally, I never use straps as we can’t use them in meets. I feel your grip strength as well as your forearms really benefit from not using them. But if you have poor grip strength, then you should use straps so your back gets the benefit of the lift before your grip gives out.
Now that you have your grip and stance decided, it’s time to deadlift.
Squat down and grasp the bar, pulling the bar as close to your shins as possible. As you squat down, have your thighs parallel or a little past parallel, keeping your butt down, shoulders back and your back straight. When you start to pull, keep your head looking forward and drive your feet through the floor. I like to pretend that I’m jumping out of a hole as fast as I can. As the bar starts to move up, begin standing up however do not straighten your legs out too fast. Let both your back and legs straighten together. At the top shoot your hips forward and lock your shoulders back. During the lift let the bar drag up your body, as this won’t let the bar get too far forward.
After you’ve decided to add deadlifts to your workout you need to decide where in your workout you’re going to put them and what repetitions to do. I suggest adding them on your back day. As far as reps go, I would stick around the 4 to 6 range. I believe when you start doing reps over 6 your form starts to break down, which could lead to an injury.
I hope my suggestions and explanation of deadlifting leads you to adding them to your program. You won’t be disappointed with your new back growth.
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