T Nation

Deadlift Help And Critique

hey guys ive been lifting seriously for about a year now, and I need some advice on deadlifting.

first ive read alot about how to do this excersize right and its purpose as a hamstring builder, but honestly when i do deadlifts i dont really feel the effort in my legs but in my upper and middle back.

Im also 6 foot and have long legs, I therefore find getting the weight around my knees problemsome, and bang them up pretty good. In fact i only do sumo deadlifts now because i can get the weight around my knees easier, and yet i still scrape my shins and knees pretty badly. sometimes i even end up bending my knees outward to get the weight by.

Could i be going too heavy? the most weight ive deadlifted so far has been 255 for 10 sets of 3 and i think i could maybe do more for a 1RM.

Lastly when trying to figure out what my problem was and trying to activate my legs instead of my back, i found that when i go to lift the weight my hips raise up above the appropriate starting position, my back doesnt really arch, but i do feel the strain in my back.

Any advice? pointers? i love deadlifts, and i really want to get my form perfect. thanks!

[quote]GeneticFlea wrote:
hey guys ive been lifting seriously for about a year now, and I need some advice on deadlifting.

first ive read alot about how to do this excersize right and its purpose as a hamstring builder, but honestly when i do deadlifts i dont really feel the effort in my legs but in my upper and middle back.
[/quote]
the low back is a prime mover in the DL and likelyb your weak link just keep rollin bro. your hams etc are getting hit.

the bar is going to hit your legs plain and simple if your DLing and going hard at it its going to happen

[quote]
Could i be going too heavy? the most weight ive deadlifted so far has been 255 for 10 sets of 3 and i think i could maybe do more for a 1RM. [/quote]
no and 95% of the time id day keep your dling to 5 and under with occasional higher rep work id reserve variants like RDLs for the rep DL’s

[quote]

Lastly when trying to figure out what my problem was and trying to activate my legs instead of my back, i found that when i go to lift the weight my hips raise up above the appropriate starting position, my back doesnt really arch, but i do feel the strain in my back.[/quote]

your going to feel it a LOT in your back, try and fire the hips through. keeop an arch, post a video that will help us

[quote]
Any advice? pointers? i love deadlifts, and i really want to get my form perfect. thanks![/quote]
Really aside from assuring you yoiu will feel it in your back a ton, and it will hit your legs yous really need to post a viseo for further directed assistance

Phill

Read this article by Dave Tate:

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=194dead2

It seems like it’s just what you need.

Another piece of advice that I can give you is to make sure you’re not just pulling the Deadlift. You have to push with your feet and THEN pull with your arms, I read this in a recent article at EFS and my Deadlift has increased as a result of implementing this correction.

Also, I wouldn’t sweat not feeling Deads in your hams. My lower back always tends to feel the brunt of the exercise, primarily because its not as strong as my hams.

Also taller people end up pulling more stiff-legged than their shorter counterparts due to anatomical leverages. This means that you’ll be getting less leg drive and more lower back recruitment as a result (unless your arms are disproportionately short).

I hope this helps, good luck!

thanks for the advice and the article by Dave Tate! im reading it now and it seems like good stuff. next time i deadlift ill try n bring my camera with me. Still even without further critique i feel a little better about my deadlifts reading your responses…IT doesnt sound like im doing them dangerously, and that was really my worry

thanks again!

Well, I have been deadlifting for less than 6 months, so I am still working on form as well. So viewing the advice from the veterans is as useful to me as well.

As far as the bar hitting the shins and knees; it happens. No real way around it. I wear those plastic jogging warmup pants when deadlifting. They are nice and slick, allowing the bar to slide easier. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it, because I know the jokes will begin.

STOP - Hammer Time, and all. Some sort of chalk or talc powder may help. Normally I really don’t notice it too much because I am too focused on trying to lift the weight. Then a day or two later I will notice bruises on my legs and remember that I was deadlifting. Anyhow, good luck.

For what it’s worth Elite Fitness sells deadlifting socks so that your shins don’t look like a paint-by-number. Granted, when you get down to it a few scars on your shins aren’t that bad.

[quote]GeneticFlea wrote:
thanks for the advice and the article by Dave Tate! im reading it now and it seems like good stuff. next time i deadlift ill try n bring my camera with me. Still even without further critique i feel a little better about my deadlifts reading your responses…IT doesnt sound like im doing them dangerously, and that was really my worry

thanks again![/quote]

No, not dangerously, as long as you keep the back neutral and don’t round over. I second the idea for a video. Phill’s right, low back is a prime mover, and you’re probably weakest there right now. Also, the longer your legs are and the taller you are, the more the DL hits your low back (body leverages). Not to say that you shouldn’t try to really activate and feel the hams (you should, it’ll help you move more weight), just that it happens.

Also, whether doing sumo or conventional DL, try to “hump” the bar when it gets to just below the knees. I’m serious. There are generally two different coaching cues used in the dl–either 1) pull back not up, or 2) hump the bar. They aim to accomplish the same thing, actually. The goal is to keep your shoulders behind the bar and activate the hams/glutes.

However, I’ve felt that I use too much low back when thinking about “pulling back not up”, so on the advice of some guys from Westside I startd thinking about pushing my hips through the bar. Literally. The hip explosion is kinda like a clean. I’ve found it helps to activate the glutes and that can in turn help activate the hammys.

Also, just try doing some RDLs light for a warmup, or maybe for a workout on their own. Really focusing on pushing the butt BACK and keeping the back upright on the way down (negative portion). This may help you mentally “feel” the hamstrings stretch on the way down, and then on the way up you can focus on contracting them. Check out the RDL article a few weeks back (Mike Robertson I think). He’s got some good tips for it.

Your upper back required to hold your shoulders in place when you lift the weight. In people that haven’t been lifting very long this is generally the weakest area when it comes to max strength. Figure you row, and do pull ups with not nearly as much weight as you can deadlift. (Generally why this exercise makes the upperbody thick along with the legs).

I dont’ find it to directly hit the hams either, unless you are stiff legged deadlifting. For me hit’s the entire body fairly uniformly.

As far as form goes, you have to find one that works for you. This may be difficult if you don’t understand biomechanics, but try to imagine the most efficient way for YOU to lift a refrigerator or couch. (hopefully you try to lift a couch without knocking your knees.

If your hitting your knees now, you might not be going to heavy but if all you can do is 3 you definitely should not go up until you learn how to do that weight without hitting your knee(repeatedly). Once or twice a workout is fine, but even then it generally should be towards the end when your weak slipping on your form and shouldn’t be doing anymore anyway.

Another thing that will help your form: do every rep from scratch (no touch and go). Even take a few seconds to step back from the bar, reposition your feet, get tight, then get down, grip and rip.

The point about pushing the floor is a good one. If you drive with your legs first, your legs straighten and your knees get out of the way. (Difficult to do with max attempts, as video of any top powerlifter doing a new PR will attest, but the best way if you are doing less than max.)