Deadlifting Primer

Wade Hanna, tree draggin' caveman type, answered a few of my deadlifting questions on the Strength List. Just thought I'd share: 

>Ok, questions for the big pullers out there. What are your favorite deadlift exercises >and why? Pulls on a plate or block? 
>Rack pulls? 

This is a tough question when you get down to it.  I think of the DL in three major components 1) the start off the floor 2) the mid section 3) the lockout.  Now I pull sumo so I kind of fall into the traditional "slow start" format too.  I think this is the hardest part of the lift and if I can crack it off the floor then I almost always get it up.   

NOTE: I am assuming that abdominals are an integral part of training and won't touch on them.  They need to be done with weights to further increase the strength of the abdominal wall and obliques as opposed to higher repetitions.  Train them like 
anything else with ever increasing tension. 

For the first portion (1) I like box squats, wide deck leg presses, and DL's off a block.  The boxes help to simulate the leg placement and hip drive and you can get your lean to match about where it will be during the DL. This is nice because you can put extra work on the bigger hip/glute area without over working your smaller upper and middle back.  Wide deck leg presses are for the same reason but, this further eliminates the tension on your lower back. Lots of people don't like leg presses. I only utilize a real wide deck so I can simulate my DL or squat stance and it helps to teach meto relax the hips and strengthen them without giving my lower back the once over. DL'ing off the blocks will get you tight for the start in a more cramped and disadvantageous position than normal. I find it easier to get set on a regular DL after working in the more cramped start of DL'ing off a block.  Helps to strengthen that super low position...also helpful for "hole shots" in the squat. 

Okay, on to the second (2) portion. I really like Stiff legged DL's, Zercher lifts (obviously!), and Power Cleans. The SLDL and the Zercher are definitely strengthening your lumbar and this is critical in this portion. I like the fact they are being trained at a slightly disadvantaged position. When I get to a better base for low back stuff I always come back stronger after having done those. The Power Cleans are great for building that hip drive forward. Once the bar passes my knees I try to accelerate it in the If I can stay in position (hip rise equal to butt rise) by the time it reaches my knees I like to really get after it...kind of like kicking in the nitrous tanks. This doesn't always happen but, it is what I try to do. PC's will build that explosion in the mid point and really teach your body to drive your hips forward and under you. 

For the third part (3) I really only have one big one that I like. Shrugs. Using Louies system I will do a trap bar shrug for a couple sets of 15's about 8 weeks out for 3-4 weeks.  The last three to four weeks I shift it to barbell shrugs very heavy for 5's. Not the bend your knees and dip under the bar shrug either...a definite pull with your traps and shoulders. I keep my head a little forward to offer some more room for the traps to come up. It is inevitable that you will have some motion in your legs but, you can minimize this if you concentrate on it. Currently I am up to using 625+ for 4x5 with this (don't use a belt either as this will help to strengthen your abdominal wall statically) and I have no problem getting my shoulders back if they happen to droop at upper limit attempts. I have stumped myself there before which is why I am emphasizing this in case the shoulders get a little out of place. I find this the most common groove error personally. 

I have said it before and I still think it is a good practice. A yell of sorts once you get it started. I think you can get the intra-abdominal pressure too high if you hold your breath for the entire lift. I generally keep mine held until the bar starts off the floor. Then either give a quick grunt or a drawn out one depending on how fast she is movin'. The yell also helps to tighten the abdominals and this is critical in staying stable throughout the first half of the DL. Anytime I hold my breath for the entire lift I see stars and I don't think that is good for longevity. If I give a good grunt then I never have the headache or dizzy feeling afterwards. Just my opinion on this and I don't know if there is any validity to it but, it seems to work for me so take it for what it is worth. 

One final point, I like to train DL's in the conventional style throughout my training cycles.  I generally include 3-4 weeks of conventional with a reverse than competition grip. I like the 4x3 range and use about 65-70% without a belt. I like to do this after my maximal effort squat day motion. This will help to strengthen my DL in a slightly different manner.  I think all lifters who DL should train in the opposite style some to hit it from a slightly different angle. As for frequency, if they are a dedicated day then I would say at least 10-14 days between deadlifting days.I used to deadlift once every other week and this was not too much. I only hit DL's about 5-6 weeks out from a meet now. This is the mini peak that Louie has suggested and I have found it to workwell. I spend the rest of the time working on the specific areas of the motion instead of doing the motion all the time.The 5-6 weeks gives me enough repetition to remember my groove. If you areunfamiliar with the mini peak it is on STRENGTH under Jason'sLouie FAQ and one of my articles as well. 

>I know we've got several big pullers out there? Dan, Joey, Wade, Tom, Betty?  

I don't know if I should be classified as a "big puller" but, I do like to Deadlift. I hope that something in the above is useful, I am by no standards an expert of even a really "good" lifter. So, take itfor what it is worth. I think that if all else fails then just a gooddose of deadlifting is the best cure. There really is a "groove" on the DL.;-) Don't do repetitions but, set up for each one like it is a meet pull.  This way you have to set your grip and so on. Practice makes perfect and the more times you get the "first rep" the easier that limit attempt is. On top of everything else training wise...just get mad at the damn bar!! Like Poohbear says...DLGW (Don't let gravity win)! It really is just that simple. 

Good liftin and hope this helps. 

-wade .   

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