T Nation

Changing Deadlift Style (Form Check)


#1

I used to almost exclusively pull sumo and I think my technique was decent. Recently my goals have changed and I decided to start pulling conventional. It feels really akward and difficult compared to sumo.

Main concerns for form check: safety and maximizing performance.

Video is one of 5 sets of 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5QD4AtNsNA&feature=youtu.be

Any help is greatly appreciated as always.


#2

You need to get your hips back and down a bit as your shoulders are waaaay forward of the bar.

It seems a mobility issue as your back isn’t flat. RDLs are magic for this but make sure it’s not huge weight and you are lowering as far as you can without back rounding.

Could also be not bracing.


#3

It looks like you’re pretty tight from your shoulders down to just above your hips. Before starting the pull, try opening up your knees a bit to open up your hips. This can put your hips in a better position to use your hip flexors. Once you feel tension in your hip flexors, keep everything tight and brace hard from your groin and up. Then see if you can keep this all tight while levering back and pulling slack out of the bar.

As you get more comfortable with this position, you should be able keep pulling more slack out until eventually your shoulders are just above the bar. It’ll probably take some time to get to that point.

If you can’t feel your hip flexors working well, try doing a bunch of knee raises while standing and bracing before your deadlift work. You just want blood pumping in that area to remember what it feels like. Doing 10-20 reps and possibly with a band is reasonable.


#4

Drop your hips more and pull yourself behind the bar. Point the base of your ribcage at the floor and that should get your back into a nice neutral (or even arched) position.

Push off the floor with your legs keeping your shoulder behind the bar and drag the bar up your legs.

Also, I would recommend doing your pulls (or at least the majority) without straps to build your grip strength. This is more a personal thing, though, but I reckon its also a safety thing: generally if you can grip it unassisted, you’re more likely to be able to lift it. Straps are going to let you potentially hold more than you can move safely. Worth thinking about anyway, IMO.


#5

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Drop your hips more and pull yourself behind the bar. Point the base of your ribcage at the floor and that should get your back into a nice neutral (or even arched) position.

Push off the floor with your legs keeping your shoulder behind the bar and drag the bar up your legs.

Also, I would recommend doing your pulls (or at least the majority) without straps to build your grip strength. This is more a personal thing, though, but I reckon its also a safety thing: generally if you can grip it unassisted, you’re more likely to be able to lift it. Straps are going to let you potentially hold more than you can move safely. Worth thinking about anyway, IMO. [/quote]

When I pulled sumo I never used straps and I could hold on to my max just fine. The problem with conventional is actually a mobility issue. I can not supinate my hand withou rotating my shoulder. I have this issue for as long as I can remember and I don’t know how to correct it. For sumo it was fine somehow, for conventional it hurts. I can also not do supinated rows, chins ups, curls etc.

I tried to drop my hips more before but the problem is that my knees then come forward and pushes the bar in front of my centre of gravity.


#6

[quote]lift206 wrote:
It looks like you’re pretty tight from your shoulders down to just above your hips. Before starting the pull, try opening up your knees a bit to open up your hips. This can put your hips in a better position to use your hip flexors. Once you feel tension in your hip flexors, keep everything tight and brace hard from your groin and up. Then see if you can keep this all tight while levering back and pulling slack out of the bar.

As you get more comfortable with this position, you should be able keep pulling more slack out until eventually your shoulders are just above the bar. It’ll probably take some time to get to that point.

If you can’t feel your hip flexors working well, try doing a bunch of knee raises while standing and bracing before your deadlift work. You just want blood pumping in that area to remember what it feels like. Doing 10-20 reps and possibly with a band is reasonable.[/quote]

Spot on about the tightness. I can tighten up my lats and abs and everything prety fine but from my hip on I am too lose. What exactly is meant by “pulling the slack out” I don’t know if this is a language barrier but I have never really understood this term.


#7

[quote]tsantos wrote:
You need to get your hips back and down a bit as your shoulders are waaaay forward of the bar.

It seems a mobility issue as your back isn’t flat. RDLs are magic for this but make sure it’s not huge weight and you are lowering as far as you can without back rounding.

Could also be not bracing.[/quote]

A mobility problem is possible but unlikely. In every mobility test I have ever done I had excellent results. I have already implemented RDLs and I can almost go till the floor (or acutally I could) without my back rounding.


#8

I don’t know if it helps but this is a video of my sumo technique (I was very fatigued at this set thats why I use straps and stopped at three):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq-ngBytXns&feature=youtu.be

And this is an old video of me doing SLDL/ or romanian deadlifts. I know do them with slow eccentric abd without touching the ground but it shows that I can pull with a flat back but I have problems getting my hips down and keeping my back flat at the same time:


#9

[quote]Koestrizer wrote:
I tried to drop my hips more before but the problem is that my knees then come forward and pushes the bar in front of my centre of gravity.[/quote]

I used to think that was a problem until I realised that to fix it all you need to do is drag the bar into yourself and pull yourself behind the bar.

You’ll take the skin off your shins but you’ll have the bar exactly where it needs to be.

Get into position with slightly lower hips. Your knees will drift forward a little. Don’t worry. Pull the bar into your shins and your shoulders behind the bar (just like for sumo, really). Point your ribcage at the floor and push off the floor keeping that position and pulling the bar into your legs. Once the bar is moving, then you start to stand up and push your hips through (for me its usually just past mid-shin by this point).

For my the biggest thing to make this work to is to imagine pulling the bar on a path at an almost 45 degree angle to the floor keeping my weight behind it.

Also get some long, thick socks.

EDIT: makes sense with the strap use, BTW. Maybe hook grip then?


#10

Pulling slack out of the bar is basically being able to create tension everywhere gradually. It doesn’t seem like you’re far off. Do some hip flexion isolation training with the bands to warm them up. Then do some goblet squats where you create constant tension around your hips. As you lower yourself, focus on using your hip flexors to pull yourself down while forcing your knees open - you should feel tension in your groin and outside glutes the entire time. As you stand up, focus on releasing tension in your hip flexors while forcing your knees open - you should feel tension in your groin, outside glutes and bottom of your glutes. Always brace hard since this is a movement pattern you want to nail down and transfer to the main lift. Do this for 1-2 months at the beginning of your training before proceeding to normal work. It’s just practicing a movement and building your hip strength from ground zero. It’s not going to make you weaker and you don’t need to overdo. You don’t need to go heavy, just learn how that tension feels like, remember it and nail it down until it becomes automatic. You’ll know when you got it. If you second guess then you probably need more work.

It’s easier to practice this way of executing the deadlift if you use rack pulls or RDLs because you can train with the hip muscles in a stronger position and gradually work down until you can recruit these muscles hard at a lower position and eventually from the floor. Placing the bar just below knee level is where I can get maximum contraction from most hip muscles. Focus on loading the hips and keeping everything tight so that you can initiate the pull with your arm pit above the bar and not allowing your chest to shoot forward throughout the lift. Make sure to load up the glutes and not only the hamstrings. Everything has to be tight for this to happen. You’ll start to feel a bit more quad involvement as well. Spreading the floor, screwing the floor, etc. is all related to this.


#11

[quote]MarkKO wrote:

[quote]Koestrizer wrote:
I tried to drop my hips more before but the problem is that my knees then come forward and pushes the bar in front of my centre of gravity.[/quote]

I used to think that was a problem until I realised that to fix it all you need to do is drag the bar into yourself and pull yourself behind the bar.

You’ll take the skin off your shins but you’ll have the bar exactly where it needs to be.

Get into position with slightly lower hips. Your knees will drift forward a little. Don’t worry. Pull the bar into your shins and your shoulders behind the bar (just like for sumo, really). Point your ribcage at the floor and push off the floor keeping that position and pulling the bar into your legs. Once the bar is moving, then you start to stand up and push your hips through (for me its usually just past mid-shin by this point).

For my the biggest thing to make this work to is to imagine pulling the bar on a path at an almost 45 degree angle to the floor keeping my weight behind it.

Also get some long, thick socks.

EDIT: makes sense with the strap use, BTW. Maybe hook grip then?[/quote]#

I have unusually small hands (compared to how tall I am) so I think hook grip will be really hard to do. But I might give it a shot. I will try to drop my hips and pull the bar into my legs!


#12

[quote]lift206 wrote:
Pulling slack out of the bar is basically being able to create tension everywhere gradually. It doesn’t seem like you’re far off. Do some hip flexion isolation training with the bands to warm them up. Then do some goblet squats where you create constant tension around your hips. As you lower yourself, focus on using your hip flexors to pull yourself down while forcing your knees open - you should feel tension in your groin and outside glutes the entire time. As you stand up, focus on releasing tension in your hip flexors while forcing your knees open - you should feel tension in your groin, outside glutes and bottom of your glutes. Always brace hard since this is a movement pattern you want to nail down and transfer to the main lift. Do this for 1-2 months at the beginning of your training before proceeding to normal work. It’s just practicing a movement and building your hip strength from ground zero. It’s not going to make you weaker and you don’t need to overdo. You don’t need to go heavy, just learn how that tension feels like, remember it and nail it down until it becomes automatic. You’ll know when you got it. If you second guess then you probably need more work.

It’s easier to practice this way of executing the deadlift if you use rack pulls or RDLs because you can train with the hip muscles in a stronger position and gradually work down until you can recruit these muscles hard at a lower position and eventually from the floor. Placing the bar just below knee level is where I can get maximum contraction from most hip muscles. Focus on loading the hips and keeping everything tight so that you can initiate the pull with your arm pit above the bar and not allowing your chest to shoot forward throughout the lift. Make sure to load up the glutes and not only the hamstrings. Everything has to be tight for this to happen. You’ll start to feel a bit more quad involvement as well. Spreading the floor, screwing the floor, etc. is all related to this.
[/quote]

Thanks for the explanation! I will try your ideas after I have recovered from an ongoing small injury.


#13

General Question on this topic: Do I progress in weight or do I try to dial in my form with ligther weigths?


#14

[quote]Koestrizer wrote:
General Question on this topic: Do I progress in weight or do I try to dial in my form with ligther weigths?[/quote]

I provided a suggestion that adds on to what you currently do. All you need to add is a bit of technique work on learning to recruit the hips better. It shouldn’t be heavy because you’re learning how it feels and practicing until it no longer takes mental effort to execute - the point where you just think to get tight throughout the lift. This work is at the beginning of your session because it’s important. But you shouldn’t be training this technique work so hard that you can’t make progress on your normal programming because the extra work shouldn’t affect anything else since your hips didn’t have much involvement in the first place.

The purpose is to bring up a weakness without neglecting other muscle groups. In the end, all muscle groups are important and will contribute to a big total. After training the technique work for a month or two, you can decide how you want to proceed with training. This is the point where you integrate that technique work (better hip utilization) into your main work, assistance work ,etc. You can reduce weight if necessary to make sure your hips are contributing more, use different variations, etc., it’s really up to you. For now treat your normal programming and hip development work separately. It’s more difficult to work on technique for heavy sets when the muscles of interest are weak or can’t be recruited effectively.

If you want to play around with rack pulls to get more practice with loading the hips then that’s fine. Just keep it light so that the extra work doesn’t affect your normal programming. Changing the way you perform heavy sets for your main work right this instant is probably not a good idea because you may end up changing too many things that you aren’t aware of. Minimize the impact of this technique work on your programming for now.


#15

[quote]Koestrizer wrote:
General Question on this topic: Do I progress in weight or do I try to dial in my form with ligther weigths?[/quote]

Both. Focus on technique for the lighter weights, but don’t neglect heavier (85% and over) pulls too.

It’s easy to maintain technique when the load is light. Heavy loads will give you a real idea of how good your technique is.


#16

Well, I just wanted to pipe in here and say thanks to everyone for the tips. My deadlift looks way too similar to the OP’s and these tips will definitely give me some things to try.


#17

[quote]littlesleeper wrote:
Well, I just wanted to pipe in here and say thanks to everyone for the tips. My deadlift looks way too similar to the OP’s and these tips will definitely give me some things to try. [/quote]

Let us know how it goes!

The two approaches I can think of are to either reduce the weights on the main work significantly so that it is low enough for the weak muscles to actually do work (but that’s not even guaranteed if you can’t fire them properly) or to treat those weak muscles as a side project doing isolation work until it catches up in strength to actually be useful. The latter has the least impact on training and risk for screwing everything else up. When technique is ingrained, you can toss that hip work to the end of the workout and continue to grow/strengthen that area until you feel it is reasonable to get those muscle groups involved in some real work. It isn’t necessary to rush the process.


#18

Wanted to update this. Am I moving in the right direction?



#19

On your first pull, which looks to be much harder than every other pull, your bar is moving forward before you initiate the pull. What this means is you are having to stop the bar from rolling, then pull it back to you, then start the pull. This will cause failure where you shouldn’t fail.

fast forward to about 20 seconds to see an extreme case of what I’m talking about. This is caused by your chins pushing the bar out, and not sitting down in time when you start your pull.

The easiest way to combat this is push the bar out farther from your chins.

there you can see how far away the bar is from my chins. My approach to the bar puts my chins almost to the bar right on with no movement of the bar itself.

See if that helps a little bit.