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Anthropocentric and the Deadlift

Hi T-Nation Strength Community,

This post serves two purposes. First, I am introducing myself and second I know that this community is eager to help those that are willing to take criticism.

Beginning with some brief info about me so you know what you’re dealing with. I originally got into weightlifting for the pecs and biceps, but I soon learned that my greatest gains came from the big three.

Currently, almost everything I do in the gym is directly or indirectly related to increasing my squat, deadlift, and bench press. I’ve been lifting for one year, and have been training legs and back for 3/4 of that time.

As an avid T-Nation reader, I’ve become very interested in all types of lifting. Soon after I started getting bigger, I became addicted to strength. Naturally, I hope to compete in powerlifting with no expectations…but I have a feeling I will continue to get stronger and stronger over the years. In other words, I’m in it for the long run.

Starting stats:
: Bench Press - 115x6
: Squat - 135x8
: Deadlift - 135x6

Current stats:
: Bench Press - no benching since it hurt my shoulders when I first started lifting due to imbalances (I haven’t benched since April 2007). I do plan to get back into benching, but its not very high on my list. Currently I focus on weighted dips, blast strap push ups, and incline DB press for chest. My shoulders/back are definitely more balanced now, but I think there are still some things I need to work on before I really hit the bench hard.

: Dips 45x6 at 200 lb bodyweight.
: Squat - 275 lbs to parallel, 245 A2G (but still working on flexibility so I can go deeper)
: Deadlift - 300 lbs

I weigh 200 lbs right now, at 6 ft.

That being said, my deadlift form needs some work. My initial deadlift was learned incorrectly as I used my lower back too much, which ultimately led to me straining it and being in pain for 3 weeks.

After focusing efforts to fix the anterior pelvic tilt and strengthening the core, I find that I can deadlift pain free now. But I look at my form and something still seems wrong about it. Here’s my latest video – advice and tips are much appreciated.

What I know about deadlifting:
-neutral spine
-push through the heels as if you were pushing heels through the ground
-flex abs to keep a tight core
-retract scapula at the top

All advice is appreciated. Perhaps I just need more practice :slight_smile:

Anthropocentric
Humans are the center of the universe.

It looks like your shoulder blades aren’t over the bar. That’s why your feet are wobbly. Are you using your quads at the bottom to drive up? If you are, focus on keeping your hamstrings tight when you get down to grip the bar so that way you can get a better drive off the floor due to there elasticity (that looks like your sticking point is at the bottom, think of your posterior chain as stretching out a rubber band).

It would be beneficial to not wear baggy sweat pants and maybe do a video with a view at a 45 degree angle from the front and one directly at your side.

bar in front of shoulders for deadlift, bar behind shoulders for olympic lifts.

rule of thumb

Awesome name.

Good deadlift all around. I’d suggest that you try a wider stance. I’m a conventional stance whore, but you have a nice tight back, so that’s not your weak point.

Good lifts.

After reading responses to my video and re-reading Mastering the Deadlift, Deadlift Diagnosis, and Precision Pulling, I will work on the following things for next time.

  1. Quick, fast set up to help get the bar off the ground easier.
  2. Stop stiff-legging. It looks like my knees extend faster than the hips. I need to focus harder on pushing heels through the ground.
  3. Glute activation. Some light pullthroughs and dynamic stretches before deadlifting.
  4. For lockout, push hips forward instead of leaning back.

-[quote]bar in front of shoulders for deadlift[/quote]

-[quote]It looks like your shoulder blades aren’t over the bar. That’s why your feet are wobbly.[/quote]

Points taken, I will post an updated video next week.

-[quote]Awesome name.[/quote]

Thanks, maybe I’m just selfish but I think anthropocentrism is so much more pragmatic when dealing with world ecological issues. Plus I’m all about human advancement.

[quote]romanaz wrote:
bar in front of shoulders for deadlift, bar behind shoulders for olympic lifts.

rule of thumb[/quote]

Agree, but bar needs to be close to shins / legs all through.

You look like someone who could fare better with sumo pulls; I might be wrong, but it wouldn’t hurt you to try it out.

PS. Great progress, keep going!

[quote]anthropocentric wrote:
: Squat - 245 A2G (but still working on flexibility so I can go deeper)[/quote]

Most people can’t go much deeper than ass-to-grass.

Your DL doesn’t really look bad. You might do well to widen you stance a little, Your feet look awfully close together. As far as stiff-legging it goes, that’s going to happen with max and near-max attempts. Don’t worry to much about it. You’re not going to have perfect form with these max attempts, anyway.

Your hips sit really high. It’s hard to involve your glutes if there is such a short ROM of hip movement. Try to work the hips back and down some. It looks like you drop your hips at the beginning of the lift, then by the time the bar actually moves, the hips move back up.

Odds are you probably won’t be able to get the appropriate hip ROM, or won’t have the same power from that position. Move to rack pulls for awhile, and progressively work the depth until you are back on the ground. You can focus on the glutes in the deadlift simply by locking the hips out (without leaning back) and squeezing the glutes for a few seconds at the top in between each rep.

Your back isn’t arched at all. You mentioned neutral spine but in my experience only the upper back needs to be neutral. It can even be rounded over as long as you keep your shoulders behind the bar. The trick is arching the lower back. In your video it looks almost as if your lower back was beginning to round over. Upper-round, lower-arch.

[quote]romanaz wrote:
bar in front of shoulders for deadlift, bar behind shoulders for olympic lifts.

rule of thumb[/quote]

I was about to say “since when?”

And then I realised having your shoulders behind the bar while deadifting, and over the bar for olympic lifts is the same thing you just said!

OP, form looks pretty good, you’ve some funky leverages so it’s probably just gonna take time to find your best position.

[quote]Hanley wrote:
romanaz wrote:
bar in front of shoulders for deadlift, bar behind shoulders for olympic lifts.

rule of thumb

I was about to say “since when?”

And then I realised having your shoulders behind the bar while deadifting, and over the bar for olympic lifts is the same thing you just said!

OP, form looks pretty good, you’ve some funky leverages so it’s probably just gonna take time to find your best position.[/quote]

yeah I just worded it how someone once told me. =P

Are you lifting at the IMA or in the athlete’s gym? The IMA sure as shit didn’t look as nice as that when I was there. I would have killed for an actual lifting platform.

Thanks for the constructive responses. I’ve added more things to work on for my deadlifts next week.

-Bar in front of shoulders / Shoulders behind the bar

: [quote]Daraz: You look like someone who could fare better with sumo pulls; I might be wrong, but it wouldn’t hurt you to try it out.

PS. Great progress, keep going![/quote]

Thanks! I have considered sumo pulls and if they are better for my leverages then I will definitely do them in competition. But I really want to master the conventional deadlift now.

: [quote]malonetd: Most people can’t go much deeper than ass-to-grass.

Your DL doesn’t really look bad. You might do well to widen you stance a little, Your feet look awfully close together. As far as stiff-legging it goes, that’s going to happen with max and near-max attempts. Don’t worry to much about it. You’re not going to have perfect form with these max attempts, anyway.[/quote]

Heh, well I can go deeper than 95% of people in my gym with good form, but when I go really deep I find myself having a hip tuck. I want to work on flexibility so I can get A2G with GOOD form.

As for deadlift stance, I’m with you on this one. The more time I spend with weights, the better I’ll get in the groove with it. Some things only come from experience. I’m open for experimentation.

: [quote]challer1: Your hips sit really high. It’s hard to involve your glutes if there is such a short ROM of hip movement. Try to work the hips back and down some. It looks like you drop your hips at the beginning of the lift, then by the time the bar actually moves, the hips move back up.

Odds are you probably won’t be able to get the appropriate hip ROM, or won’t have the same power from that position. Move to rack pulls for awhile, and progressively work the depth until you are back on the ground. You can focus on the glutes in the deadlift simply by locking the hips out (without leaning back) and squeezing the glutes for a few seconds at the top in between each rep.[/quote]

This is true about my hips being a bit too high. I think I need to lean back a little bit more in my initial setup – perhaps get my shins completely perpendicular to the ground, which will also help with getting my shoulders behind the bar.

I think I have enough flexibility to get proper form without having to go to rack pulls, I’ll post a video next week with form after taking into consideration all of the criticism here. But if I don’t, then you’re right about rack pulls – I can use them to progress my ROM.

: [quote]Rugby_Owns: Your back isn’t arched at all. You mentioned neutral spine but in my experience only the upper back needs to be neutral. It can even be rounded over as long as you keep your shoulders behind the bar. The trick is arching the lower back. In your video it looks almost as if your lower back was beginning to round over. Upper-round, lower-arch.[/quote]

Right, this reminds me of Eric Cressey’s deadlift video with the upper back rounded. I’ll work on arching the lower back, but I may need to work on flexibility. Again, I think if I keep my shoulders behind the bar this problem should be solved.

: [quote]Hanley: OP, form looks pretty good, you’ve some funky leverages so it’s probably just gonna take time to find your best position.[/quote]

Thanks…what you say is true, I’ve only deadlifted for three days in the last four months since I’ve been focusing on other lower body exercises. Basically I’ve done a lot of Step Ups, Pullthroughs, and Good Mornings. I definitely need more experience picking up iron off of the ground. I’ll experiment with various stances to find my own personal MONEY stance.

: [quote]Kainjer: Are you lifting at the IMA or in the athlete’s gym? The IMA sure as shit didn’t look as nice as that when I was there. I would have killed for an actual lifting platform.[/quote]

I WISH I could lift in the athletes gym! The video you see is me lifting in the new IMA which was completed 1 year before I started going to University of Washington. It’s pretty nice and I have no complaints except there are no GHM or Reverse Hyper machines. Otherwise, there are four power racks each with a platform in front. Plenty of benches, dumbbells, and machines along with a bunch of bumper plates and everything else I need.

Have you ever been to Bull Stewarts Fitness Center in South Seattle? He seems to be big in powerlifting for the Seattle area. Never been to the gym, but since I’m graduating in June I need to figure out where I’m going to live and train.

Again, thanks for the help everyone. I hope to post a new video next week with improved form.