T Nation

Deadlift Form

I am 5’8 180 lbs and have a 510 lb deadlift, currently. My form is such that I use a lot of spinal erectors and very little legs. I have had a few different people watch me pull, and the comments that I get are:

  1. I am “all erectors which is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, Bolton pulls like that.”

  2. “If you incorporated more legs into the movement, your poundages would go up.”

  3. “You are setting yourself up for injury!”

What I wonder is, who is right? It would take a lot to detrain and retrain myself to pull differently. I have a decent lift right now, and have stayed totally injury free while building it up, yet I don’t want to end up with a major injury either…

I’ll try to get video of a deadlift on here, just so others can comment on my form.

My personal thinking is, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.” However, I don’t want to get “broke” either and it’d be nice for the pull to get even better by doing something more helpful…

What do you mean by “all spinal erectors?” That you don’t bend your knees much and put most of the stress of the movement on raising your back from horizontal to vertical?

Just try bending your legs a bit more. Maybe try to start your lift close to the ground with your knees fully bent, almost making your ass hit the ground. That way when you come up, you literally have to straighten (and use) your legs in the movement.

Isn’t that also less efficient and harder, then?

i say as long as it ain’t broke. thats the same way i pull, injury free also

You guys must be on to something!

Well, a recent T-Nation article talked about the misconception of the deadlift as a reverse squat. I see no reason to pull from a hole, by lowering yourself closer to the ground. The hips can stay higher and that way, the range of motion is drastically reduced.

I mean, I’m pulling over 500, so I can’t be insane…

I’ve just been told that it isn’t “correct.” I’m not stalling, leaning-forward, or doing anything absurd - it’s just the biomechanics of the lift for me.

I really think that I’m fine, but it’s interesting to hear what people have to say about it.

There might not be any harm in pulling lighter loads in a more squat position, to hopefully activate the legs more and make them stronger for heavier "normal’ pulls, right?

This is exactly how I pull: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNvONtw-94g

Don’t you have a vid of yourself instead?

Really need a video to give a good critique man, no one’s gonna tell you Andy Bolton’s DL form needs more glute activation!

dhuge67 I’m inclined to say if you can pull 500+ at 180 then you are doing something right. When you miss at dead what happens? Can’t break the floor? Lose it at the shins? Miss at the top?

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:
Isn’t that also less efficient and harder, then?[/quote]

A deadlift is a lot of back, don’t worry about it. It’s not a reverse squat. As long as you’re not rounding your lumbars to much, you should be fine.

When almost anyone gets up to max loads, if you really want to get technical no one does a conventional deadlift. What everyone does is a shitty rounded back RDL, that is just what happens. Your body’s ability to keep a tight arch, chest up shoulder blades back is much less than its ability to cave in and just pick up the weight off the floor. Lets put it this way, if you got to the point where you could pull what your max is now 500lbs with your hips down and chest up, 500lbs wouldnt be your max anymore. You couldnt keep your hips down if you tried during a true max.

If you are doing deadlifts for sports or to be strong, I would argue that doing shitty form max lifts are not really very beneficial.

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:
This is exactly how I pull: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNvONtw-94g

[/quote]

lol at “exactly”

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:
Well, a recent T-Nation article talked about the misconception of the deadlift as a reverse squat. I see no reason to pull from a hole, by lowering yourself closer to the ground. The hips can stay higher and that way, the range of motion is drastically reduced.

I mean, I’m pulling over 500, so I can’t be insane…

I’ve just been told that it isn’t “correct.” I’m not stalling, leaning-forward, or doing anything absurd - it’s just the biomechanics of the lift for me.

I really think that I’m fine, but it’s interesting to hear what people have to say about it.

There might not be any harm in pulling lighter loads in a more squat position, to hopefully activate the legs more and make them stronger for heavier "normal’ pulls, right?[/quote]

The range of motion is the same, whether you start sitting on your heels or straight legged.

It doesn’t really seem like you’re looking for advice, just affirmation of how awesome you are pulling 500@180.

Just my opinion.

[quote]Rusty Barbell wrote:
What do you mean by “all spinal erectors?” That you don’t bend your knees much and put most of the stress of the movement on raising your back from horizontal to vertical?

Just try bending your legs a bit more. Maybe try to start your lift close to the ground with your knees fully bent, almost making your ass hit the ground. That way when you come up, you literally have to straighten (and use) your legs in the movement.

[/quote]

What possible good would this do? Have you ever seen anyone pull a big deadlift this way?

To the OP, it might help to get a little more drive with your legs, or it might not. If you try it, I think you should imagine yourself descending to the bar under load before you pull, as though you are fighting resistance on your way down. This will help get you tighter, and it sort of mimics the stretch reflex that is missing with the deadlift.

Also, just to note, pulling with almost straight legs the whole way doesn’t mean necessarily that your lower back is strong compared to your legs, it means it’s strog compared to your abs, so more heavy ab work will probably help your pull.

[quote]johnnytang24 wrote:
dhuge67 wrote:
Well, a recent T-Nation article talked about the misconception of the deadlift as a reverse squat. I see no reason to pull from a hole, by lowering yourself closer to the ground. The hips can stay higher and that way, the range of motion is drastically reduced.

I mean, I’m pulling over 500, so I can’t be insane…

I’ve just been told that it isn’t “correct.” I’m not stalling, leaning-forward, or doing anything absurd - it’s just the biomechanics of the lift for me.

I really think that I’m fine, but it’s interesting to hear what people have to say about it.

There might not be any harm in pulling lighter loads in a more squat position, to hopefully activate the legs more and make them stronger for heavier "normal’ pulls, right?

The range of motion is the same, whether you start sitting on your heels or straight legged.

It doesn’t really seem like you’re looking for advice, just affirmation of how awesome you are pulling 500@180.

Just my opinion.[/quote]

While the ROM obviously wouldn’t change, the amount that your body moves would. Think about it this way, if he was to start with hips low the bar still probably wouldn’t break the floor until his hips got up high. This is wasted movement, and what I imagine was being referred to.

There is quite a gap, though, between a “reverse squat” and what basically amounts to a “shitty RDL.” I think the difference is not so much where the hips start, but what you’re using to lock out.

In the Bolton vid, he is pretty clearly locking out via back extension. In an ideal world, the DL would be locked out using hip extension. I bet Bolton (and the OP) probably has one ridiculously strong set of erectors relative to glutes.

Shadow hit the nail right on the head. If you are looking to maximize your total, as Bolton obviously is, then to hell with hip extension: do whatever it takes to make it happen. But if your goal is long-term health/general strength training/athleticism, then I would say it’s time to drop the weight.

Thanks for all of the feedback. I’ll try to get a video of my form next week.

As such, I believe eic has it right.

sapasion, when I miss, I miss at the top and right before the lockout. It seems that if I get the weight off of the floor to begin with, then get it or I almost get it. If I can’t even budge it off of the floor, then obviously, “Lucy, you’ve got some trainin’ to do!!!”

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:
Thanks for all of the feedback. I’ll try to get a video of my form next week.

As such, I believe eic has it right.

sapasion, when I miss, I miss at the top and right before the lockout. It seems that if I get the weight off of the floor to begin with, then get it or I almost get it. If I can’t even budge it off of the floor, then obviously, “Lucy, you’ve got some trainin’ to do!!!”[/quote]

FWIW, my raw dead form is all back. I use leg drive to get some momentum, but by the time all the slack is pulled out of the bar and the paltes comoff the floor, knees are almost straight. However, with a tight suit, I pull myslef into a squat-type starting position and actully squat the weight up.

As for lockout, try hammering heavy rack pulls for reps. Go a little heavier than your max full range pull- but not much heavier. Pull from about the knee- straps are ok and bouncing off the pins is ok- just make sure you lock it out and hold it at the top on each rep.

[quote]Pinto wrote:

As for lockout, try hammering heavy rack pulls for reps. Go a little heavier than your max full range pull- but not much heavier. Pull from about the knee- straps are ok and bouncing off the pins is ok- just make sure you lock it out and hold it at the top on each rep.[/quote]

That’s quite a good idea. Stolen.