5 deadlift progressions

If you haven’t deadlifted before, your training life is shallow and incomplete. It’s time to change that, and take you from 0-60 (KGs), and beyond, in no time at all.

Step one – learn to hinge.

The hip hinge is the fundamental movement that no-one practices. Learn this a key component to learning to deadlift. Getting good at this is step one.

I’ve found that with most clients recently, the stick drill works well if they haven’t been taught to hinge before. It eliminates flexing through the low back and makes you pivot at your hip socket. After that, it’s ensuring that you don’t bend your knees too much. A simple rule here is that if you don’t feel a bit of a stretch in your hamstrings, you’ve either rounded your low back or bent your knees too much.

              

Key points:

  • Lock your ribs down
  • Push your butt back, not down
  • Maintain contact with the stick at your head, upper back and tailbone
  • See the video demo here

KB deadlifts

The first deadlift variation I like to use with clients is the KB Deadlift. It’s a simple version, and the lighter loads allow us to build good technique and focus on engaging the lats and getting the hips moving as they should. You can set up on blocks if the range of movement is limited, or on the floor.

          

Key points:

  • Lock your ribs down
  • Push your butt back, not down
  • Keep the KB close to you throughout the movement, and your weight stays towards your heels.
  • See the video demo here

Rack pulls

Rack pulls are a great way to introduce the barbell to clients for the first time. Starting around the top of the shin, progress is made as you get stronger and the rack height gets lower. If eventually, you are lifting off the floor, then great! But if you have limited range of movement, you might deadlift only from blocks high enough to allow you to get good position at the bottom of the lift.

      

Key points:

  • Lock your ribs down
  • Push your butt back, not down. You should feel a lot of hamstring on these!
  • Don’t allow your knees to “scoop” forward and under the weight. this is usually a signal that your low back is weak and you need to work on that first.
  • See the video demo here

If full deadlifts are good for you, they will be all you need for a good long time, as you build strength and improve technique. 2 useful progressions though, are the deficit deadlift and the eccentric pause deadlift.

Deficit deadlift

Deficits put your feet onto a block or plate so your starting point is lower than normal, allowing you to build strength in your low back and more strength from the ground. Be careful with these as you won’t be able to handle the same loads, and you have to be able to get into good position in the lower position.

      

Key points:

  • Lower reps on these
  • Stay tight, pull yourself into the “wedge” at the bottom position.
  • See the video demo here

Eccentric paused deadlifts

These are a superior option over the typically seen concentric paused deadlifts (where the pause is done on the way up). this makes little sense as the pause and go format is more likely to have you break form to re-start the lift. By pausing on the way down, you still get the benefit of the pause – more time under tension at the sticking point, better ability to improve strength off the floor, without the risk of concentric deadlifts.

Key points:

  • Go lighter than you think to start with.
  • Focus on maintaining tension throughout.
  • Stop at your typical sticking point on the way down and hold for 3-5 seconds
  • Don’t go to failure.
  • See the video demo here

If you have any questions about deadlifts, technique and programming, just get in touch via the comments, or email me at dave@edinburgh-pt.com

Stay strong,

Dave

 

P.s. If you’re looking for a program that’ll get you stronger, fitter and leaner than you’ve ever been, you should probably check out The Strong Project. Just sayin…

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