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Building Strength - Deadlift

I would like some advice on how to improve my deadlift.

I have been going to the gym for about three years but the results have been lackluster due to poor programs, poor diet and basically not knowing what I was doing. I have been coming to T-Nation for a while now and have gained more knowledge and put it to practice, but I feel that I am still a beginner. The reason for that background is I�??m not sure if this post belongs in the Beginners forums or should�??ve been placed elsewhere.

I am about three weeks into a conjugate periodization routine and today was a ME day. My deads went like this:

135lbs x 5
135lbs x 5
185lbs x 5
225lbs x 3
275lbs x 3
315lbs x 1
365lbs x 1
405lbs x 1
415lbs �?? failed
415lbs �?? failed

While I failed on 415 lbs twice the first time I didn�??t get it off the ground but I tried again and made it about 8 inches up before I set it down. I feel that I could have grinded it out but one look it the mirror told me my form was atrocious and I didn�??t want to do anything to my back. I have hurt my back doing deadlifts when 315lbs was my max. I heard a pop and the pain came. I didn�??t see a doctor but just let it heal on its own �?? which took about a week before I did any weights again.

Should I have grinded it out or did I make the right choice in setting it down?

The rest of the session went like this:

Good-mornings 4x8 135lbs
Stiff legged deadlift 4 x 6 225lbs
Swiss Ball crunches 3 x 12

What I would like is some advice on how to improve my deadlift. I have been able to do 405lbs for about three months now but had not been working on improving the deadlift until now. I�??m thinking I need to keep doing good mornings and various exercises for the hams and gluetes.

What are the primary muscle groups that initiate the pull in the deadlift? I am assuming the hamstrings, gluetes and perhaps the traps.

My overall goal is to get stronger and primarily in the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. I am 6�??2�?? and 230lbs.

Thank you for any good advice and thanks for reading this long post too.

[quote]albron wrote:
I would like some advice on how to improve my deadlift.

I have been going to the gym for about three years but the results have been lackluster due to poor programs, poor diet and basically not knowing what I was doing. I have been coming to T-Nation for a while now and have gained more knowledge and put it to practice, but I feel that I am still a beginner. The reason for that background is I�??m not sure if this post belongs in the Beginners forums or should�??ve been placed elsewhere.

I am about three weeks into a conjugate periodization routine and today was a ME day. My deads went like this:

135lbs x 5
135lbs x 5
185lbs x 5
225lbs x 3
275lbs x 3
315lbs x 1
365lbs x 1
405lbs x 1
415lbs �?? failed
415lbs �?? failed

While I failed on 415 lbs twice the first time I didn�??t get it off the ground but I tried again and made it about 8 inches up before I set it down. I feel that I could have grinded it out but one look it the mirror told me my form was atrocious and I didn�??t want to do anything to my back. I have hurt my back doing deadlifts when 315lbs was my max. I heard a pop and the pain came. I didn�??t see a doctor but just let it heal on its own �?? which took about a week before I did any weights again.

Should I have grinded it out or did I make the right choice in setting it down?

The rest of the session went like this:

Good-mornings 4x8 135lbs
Stiff legged deadlift 4 x 6 225lbs
Swiss Ball crunches 3 x 12

What I would like is some advice on how to improve my deadlift. I have been able to do 405lbs for about three months now but had not been working on improving the deadlift until now. I�??m thinking I need to keep doing good mornings and various exercises for the hams and gluetes.

What are the primary muscle groups that initiate the pull in the deadlift? I am assuming the hamstrings, gluetes and perhaps the traps.

My overall goal is to get stronger and primarily in the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. I am 6�??2�?? and 230lbs.

Thank you for any good advice and thanks for reading this long post too.

[/quote]

First off, obviously the lackluster performance you speak of is obviously related to what you mentioned (programs, diet, general knowledge) So you know this and you’re looking for help. Good job.

Second, you did the right thing by putting down the weight. No one’s form is perfect with near maximal loads, but with most guys its not worth doing a dead if the form is crap. (Maybe at a contest, bust balls and see what you can do) but there’s no point in straining and possibly hurting yourself when you’re not really making quality gains (with shit form)

How has the 405 felt the past few months? Gotten easier? Have you been focusing big time on deads? The supplemental exercises look good and yes the muscles you mentioned are the primary ones used during deads. Read Eric Cressey’s Mastering the deadlift articles. http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1582703

It never hurts to try to learn more about what you want to do.

As far as my personal experience just try to keep solid form (it’s easier that way) and maybe drop the weight a bit and do some explosive deadlifts and really focus on using your hips to drive and glutes/hams/back as well. Maybe drop to 330 (or so) and do sets of 3-4 but make them real quality sets.

Of coures, you gotta make sure the diet and rest and all that good stuff is in check too.

Thanks DouglasJ16,

The articles by Eric Cressey are great (That includes reading Part II of the article). I’m surprised I haven’t read them since I have searched for deadlift articles. I used to be the “The Shin Scraper” that he mentions in the article and would get some nice cuts from deadlifts. Since then I have always worn pants when doing deads, but I have since than fixed that part of my form.

As for the 405lbs it hasn’t become any easier from when I first hit the PR. However my attempts to improve it focused less on direct deadlift work and more on strengthening the hamstrings and back (good-mornings, stiff legged deads, ect). I like your suggestion of doing 3 to 4 quality sets at around 330 and will try to fix that in. Would that be considered DE work or is a lower percentage of weight usually used for DE work?

I’d say that be part of ME work. DE would be like 225 or so, in my opinion and from what I take from DeFranco’s articles.

Assistance work is very important no doubt, but don’t neglect the actual ‘doing-of what-you-want-to-improve’ (deadlifting)…which is why i say maybe 3-4 solid reps of good form may help if you haven’t tried that.

Im sure others will chime in with useful stuff as well.

Grab a belt if ya dont got one already, strap so tight ya can’t breath and don’t give up the next time on 415.

Deadlift 5x5 once a week for 4-6 weeks then try to pull another at 415 or higher.

It sounds like your initial strength is week on the deadlift, probably due to your glutes and hammies being unable to bear the initial burden. You could try King deadlift, King deadlift is basically a snatch(wide) grip deadlift done off of a small platform(3"). You will need to keep strict form, it will feel weird as your chest almost starts on your knees, but if you can keep your back straight and shift the load onto your posterior chain your starting strength will increase significantly.

And you shouldn’t have pushed through that rep, bad form leads to injuries.

[quote]albron wrote:
What are the primary muscle groups that initiate the pull in the deadlift? I am assuming the hamstrings, gluetes and perhaps the traps.
[/quote]

The hamstrings, glutes, and adductors are only supposed to maintain the back angle in the beginning of the pull. The first part of the pull is actually done by the quads! :slight_smile: The knee angle should open first until the bar passes the knees, then the hip angle opens.

However, if you’re pulling “wrong” the quads won’t activate, and the weight is lifted with the hams & glutes. This occurs when hip angle closes and the knee angle opens before the bar leaves the floor; essentially, the leg straightens before any weight is ever lifted.

See the deadlift videos at www.crossfit.com/cf-info/excercise.html#Power for more (better) info.

I dunno what your “problem” is though.

[quote]albron wrote:
I would like some advice on how to improve my deadlift.

I have been going to the gym for about three years but the results have been lackluster due to poor programs, poor diet and basically not knowing what I was doing. I have been coming to T-Nation for a while now and have gained more knowledge and put it to practice, but I feel that I am still a beginner. The reason for that background is I�??m not sure if this post belongs in the Beginners forums or should�??ve been placed elsewhere.

I am about three weeks into a conjugate periodization routine and today was a ME day. My deads went like this:

135lbs x 5
135lbs x 5
185lbs x 5
225lbs x 3
275lbs x 3
315lbs x 1
365lbs x 1
405lbs x 1
415lbs �?? failed
415lbs �?? failed

While I failed on 415 lbs twice the first time I didn�??t get it off the ground but I tried again and made it about 8 inches up before I set it down. I feel that I could have grinded it out but one look it the mirror told me my form was atrocious and I didn�??t want to do anything to my back. I have hurt my back doing deadlifts when 315lbs was my max. I heard a pop and the pain came. I didn�??t see a doctor but just let it heal on its own �?? which took about a week before I did any weights again.

Should I have grinded it out or did I make the right choice in setting it down?

The rest of the session went like this:

Good-mornings 4x8 135lbs
Stiff legged deadlift 4 x 6 225lbs
Swiss Ball crunches 3 x 12

What I would like is some advice on how to improve my deadlift. I have been able to do 405lbs for about three months now but had not been working on improving the deadlift until now. I�??m thinking I need to keep doing good mornings and various exercises for the hams and gluetes.

What are the primary muscle groups that initiate the pull in the deadlift? I am assuming the hamstrings, gluetes and perhaps the traps.

My overall goal is to get stronger and primarily in the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. I am 6�??2�?? and 230lbs.

Thank you for any good advice and thanks for reading this long post too.

[/quote]

The first thing I noticed was that number of sets/reps you did before you tried maxing out. Your max attempt should be your 4th or 5th (depeding on the weight; 400ish should be 3rd) set. Your first two should be (roughly) :
135 x 6 (focus on speed)
225 x 4 (same!)
315 x 2 (speed!)
then attempt your 415.

this way you’ll have more energy NOT expended.

lifts to help bring your deadlift up:
glute-ham raise
stiff legged deadlifts
rack-pulls (partial deads)
deadlift on a box (6"-12")

also, if you have access to bands; give band-tension deadlifts a shot.

its a long process sometimes ot even add 15lbs to a PR; but anyone who puts their mind to it can do it!

good luck!

Thanks for all the replies. I think I need to go back and revisit my form. I know it was bad when I went heavy but I couldn’t tell you the last time I checked my form when using lighter weight.

Zagman, you mentioned doing a King deadlift. I don’t have access to a platform but would doing a snatch grip deadlift give me some of the same benefits as a King deadlift even though I’ll be lacking the platform?

[quote]albron wrote:
Zagman, you mentioned doing a King deadlift. I don’t have access to a platform but would doing a snatch grip deadlift give me some of the same benefits as a King deadlift even though I’ll be lacking the platform?[/quote]

You could stand on a plate or a stack of plates.

like this

I was able to do the King Deadlift today during my DE workout and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed doing it! There was a small wood platform about 4�?? tall that I used. My King Deadlifts went like this:

3 x 3 135lbs
5 x 3 185lbs

The 135lbs were light but I was trying the move out. The 185lbs were about right for doing DE. Is this move preferred for DE vs. ME, or can and should it be used for both training styles?

For what it’s worth, the best gains I’ve made on deadift have come from pulling 10-15 singles at 80-90% 1RM once a week for 4-6 weeks.

[quote]thomas.galvin wrote:
For what it’s worth, the best gains I’ve made on deadift have come from pulling 10-15 singles at 80-90% 1RM once a week for 4-6 weeks.[/quote]

you should try supersetting those singles in between lat pulldowns.

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
thomas.galvin wrote:
For what it’s worth, the best gains I’ve made on deadift have come from pulling 10-15 singles at 80-90% 1RM once a week for 4-6 weeks.

you should try supersetting those singles in between lat pulldowns.
[/quote]

I do chins five days a week. I haven’t done a pulldown in something like two years.