Powerlifting 3 : The Deadlift

Here it is. The most fought over of them all, the deadlift!
The fight has been going on for while now between conventional and sumo lifters. Conventional lifters see all the sumo dead lifters in competition lift more than them and call it cheating… If you have never tried to deadlift sumo and you call it cheating, you just aren’t lifting heavy enough. If you can lift more sumo, then lift sumo. It is different and brutal. In both cases you have to have a strong grip, a strong lower back, glutes and hamstrings. More quads solved in sumo deadlifting. The range of motion is reduced in sumo deadlifting though, which is what conventional dead lifters hate. Mac PC, republicans democrats, vegans and hunters… same old same old…

What is a deadlift?

It is basically all in the name? The weight is on the floor and you have to lift it. This is the only concentric only lift. On the squat and the bench press you start by lowering the weight before lifting it. You can use the elasticity of your muscles to “bounce” the weight. Here it is not the case. Therefore, you have to pick up “dead” weight.
The bar is on the floor, and you have to lift it off the ground so that your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned. That’s it. It should just go up, no swinging up and down for it to be valid.
No equipment will really help you except for straps to attach your hand on the bar, the grip being an essential part of the movement.

Why should you deadlift?

A great strongman going by the name of Jan Pall Sigmarsson once deadlifted 1005 pound on cartwheels, and yelled at the top of his deadlift, “There is no reason to  be alive if you can’t do deadlift!”.
That basically sums it up. If you can’t pick stuff iff the ground you’re in deep shit. If your deadlift goes up, everything will go up. If something else goes up, then your deadlift will go up.
Biceps, Forearms, Upper back, Lats, Spinal Erectors, Glutes, Hamstrings, upper and lower, Hip Flexors, and Obliques, and just Abs in general…. there isn’t much that a deadlift won’t work on. But this also means your weakest link will show up and buckle under the weight laying on the floor.
So mix it up. Conventional, Sumo, barefoot, in squat shoes, on a platform, unracking the bar, straight legged, Snatch grip, with bands, with chains, They will all help you out for different reasons. Find where you are weak, and blast that exercise.
It will build get thickness in your back, and hamstrings which are unfortunately the lost children of most gym rats.

The Setup :

Quite straightforward. Load the barbell on the floor. Pick it up. Not much more security measures you can have for this one. If you are going all out, have someone near you incase you faint front the exertion… Yes that happens quite often :
and many more….
You might also want someone to tell you your back is rounding over ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h44SIMOMdEI )  which is a sign you have weak abs or lower back extensors, and that you should put the bar down before you injure yourself.

The Sequence :

Here again, it will seem much easier than the other lifts. As there are less issues with security, this lift os more of a test of courage, than anything.

The Conventional Lift :

The foot width :

The ideal width is the width you jump with Do the test now if you want. How wide would your feet be of I asked you to jump as HIGH as you could? Test it now. If you are still unsure, hop forward, and see at what width you land.

Set yourself a bout three feet from the bar. Walk forward so that the bar is about 1 inch in front of your ankles.
Point your toes out slightly, for the same reason as for the squat. Rare are the lifter who actually have perfectly parallel feet on this lift. You will refine your stance as the years go by.
Brace yourself (see THE SQUAT)
Hinge at the hips to grab the bar.
Once you have set your grip firmly pull your hips down into the bar until you achieve total tightness. Pull your shoulders down, pull the slack out of the bar.
Once you have achieved this moment, pull up with your shoulders and press down into your feet, as if you were trying to push the earth away from you. Keep puling as hard as you can until you are stating straight. Put the bar back down.
You have just deadlifted.


The sumo deadlift is more technical, and less of a “comfortable” lift.
The starting position is with your feet spread apart wide. The width depends on your flexibility and you leverages. Find the position that allows you to get your feet as far apart as possible without losing a straight back.
Sumo Set Up
Your feet should be as parallel as then can be. This will increase torque and help lit the bar off the ground. Your toes will be pointed out, but try and get them as parallel as possible. You can see my feet are pointed out a lot, this is all i can do to achieve full depth and keep a straight back. You’ll have to figure it out.
Brace yourself. Squeeze your shoulders back (explaining the higher hand position)
Bend at the knee and try to keep your torso as upright as you can.
Sink Down Sumo
Grip the bar tightly in whichever grip ( See “THE GRIP” later in the article) suit you best.
Sink your hips down and get your whole body tight.
In the same movement lean back slightly and push OUT into your feet as hard as you can and and up straight. Make sure you push your hips forward and pull your shoulders back so your lift is validated.
You have just deadlifted Sumo.


There are basically two ways you can grip the bar to lift maximally:

Inverted Grip :

-This is where you grip the bar with one hand facing forward (supinated) and the other hand is facing backward (pronated). What happens here is that as their doesn’t roll in your hands you get a more steady grip on the bar. The only risk is that the supinated hand, when using very heavy weights, has a risk of a bicep tear when very heavily loaded.

Hook Grip :

– This is the grip used mainly by Olympic weightlifters. To grab the bar, you first roll your thumb around it and then grab a hold of it with your other fingers. This is a firm hold that won’t budge if well chalked up. It means you can have bothe hands facing backwards for a safer, stronger pull. The only issue is a heavy barbell crushing your thumb that will hurt like hell as you lift.
And that is the basis of all you need to know about how to deadlift. Futures articles will delve into how to correct mistakes and work on weaknesses. But that is all for today.
Take it easy.

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