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Deadlift Weak Point at Knees

I just maxed my deadlift and hit 500lbs …227.5kgs… but it was ugly. From knee height my muscles got shaky as all hell and continued that fashion to lockout. Parkinson’s pull. It was smooth and easy until the knees.

Is this weak hamstrings?

Has anyone had a similar problem and found an easy solution?

I do good mornings once a week and pull once a week, squat 3 times. More good mornings? High rep rack pulls?

Vids on last page of my log on here if you need a chuckle =]

A few around 175kg, a couple at 185-210kg and a fail at 230kg. I nailed 227.5kg in the same session but it was shaky to the point of ridiculous.

[video]2496[/video]

do you do lots of rows? farmers? rack pulls?

I have this problem as well but the best thing I did to start progressing past that point was trainng my hips and glutes alot more. Hip Thrusts, Barbell Hyperextesion, and Sit Ups against bands have all helped me. Also Rack Pulls from one or two inches right below your sticking point.

@asooneyeonig: I do high rep DB rows once a week, have never done farmers walks or rack pulls though. Actually I lie, I tried rack pulls once and was weaker with them than off the floor so I got disillusioned haha.

Are the rack pulls worthwhile for speed/explosive work? I mean I deadlift a good 100lbs less on a below-knees rack pull than from the floor.

[quote]panzerfaust wrote:
@asooneyeonig: I do high rep DB rows once a week, have never done farmers walks or rack pulls though. Actually I lie, I tried rack pulls once and was weaker with them than off the floor so I got disillusioned haha.

Are the rack pulls worthwhile for speed/explosive work? I mean I deadlift a good 100lbs less on a below-knees rack pull than from the floor.[/quote]

Well then, I’d say that’s a clue right there wouldn’t you?

Reed is 100% right. Difficulty at the knees and past to lockout is generally driven by sluggish glutes and hips. Past the knees is where the stretch and power of the hamstrings is greatly diminished and you have to focus on hard push with the glutes/hips.

So: rack pulls from knee or just below, Glute Bridges (weighted), pull-throughs. KB swings–done properly only–can help as well. Done properly means all the focus is on hip thrust and glute power to drive the bell up.

As an aside I would focus on holding the top contraction on glute bridges and pull-throughs for a couple seconds every rep of every set for the first 2 weeks or so that you do them. After that you can just do them like normal, but that hold and squeeze helps you mentally focus on glute recruitment, and mental connection is half the battle when trying to drive your hips in a heavy grinding DL.

Can you pull more from above the knee than from the floor? If yes, you don’t have weak glutes or upper back.

@Wrah - no, I am strong off the floor and weak from the knee.

@Aragorn - yeah man, now that you point it out, the high rack pull weakness suggests I need to work on my glutes and hips.

Thanks guys, I will start glute bridging and hips thrusts. I do KB swings, but only light so I will order a 40kg ones to get more glute action into it.

Do you guys recommend high rep rack pulls? Say 8-12?

Thanks for the replies in here. I have similar trouble on deadlifts getting really difficult past the knee. I added rack pulls and shrugs, but too soon to say what kind of impact this has had.

Get stronger all over. Strengthen the entire lift. Create more force at the bottom of the lift to blow through any sticking point. You will NEVER get weaker this way.

If you are weak from the knees im willing to bet you are in a poor starting position (even if you think you are in good position). You are probably lacking tightness, your hips are too high, and both other these things lead to being strong off the floor but shitty at lock out. Look at almost anyone who has a tough lockout and i bet you they start with their hips way to high and dont get tight in the bottom position. Not that theres anything wrong with that, KK pulls like that. But if you want to deadlift like Ed Coan Mike T or any other respectable deadlifter you need to look at your set up because the hardest part of the deadlift should be off the floor and then acceleration all the way to lock out. Chances are you will try it and be weaker when you start just because you havent done it and then not listen to me but hey for anyone with similar problems which there is ^^^^ theres your solution

[quote]benno390 wrote:
If you are weak from the knees im willing to bet you are in a poor starting position (even if you think you are in good position). You are probably lacking tightness, your hips are too high, and both other these things lead to being strong off the floor but shitty at lock out. Look at almost anyone who has a tough lockout and i bet you they start with their hips way to high and dont get tight in the bottom position. Not that theres anything wrong with that, KK pulls like that. But if you want to deadlift like Ed Coan Mike T or any other respectable deadlifter you need to look at your set up because the hardest part of the deadlift should be off the floor and then acceleration all the way to lock out. Chances are you will try it and be weaker when you start just because you havent done it and then not listen to me but hey for anyone with similar problems which there is ^^^^ theres your solution[/quote]

I do deadlift high hips. I grip, dip and rip as it helps me off the floor.

Added video to OP - a couple of lighter ones, 2 80-90% and a fail at 230kg. I lost the 230 out in front of me, but you can see the epic shaking begin.

Will start rack pulls from just below the knee as my pulling movement tonight. I will start with 4 x 6-8 @ 80% of rack pull max, as per Wendler’s recent article.

I will also start using weighted glute bridges and/or hip thrusters. I don’t have a cable machine in my basement so cable pull-throughs aren’t an option for me.

Will update in a couple of months as to how this helps my lifting.

But yeah, I can probably pull 250kg to knee height pretty easily, but could barely lock out 227.5.

Thanks for the advice guys.

Also @ Benno, I am loathe to adjust my setup unless I get multiple criticisms on my video form, but if you care to comment on the videos I am open to trying different setups. Thanks

I suggest doing speed pulls against bands. I have EFS short bands that I just loop around my foot and the bar. The tension doesn’t REALLY kick in until about my knee level. I’m 5’7", so it may be different for you if you’re taller. Or you could try speed pulls against chains. Just my 2 cents.

CS

[quote]CSEagles1694 wrote:
I suggest doing speed pulls against bands. I have EFS short bands that I just loop around my foot and the bar. The tension doesn’t REALLY kick in until about my knee level. I’m 5’7", so it may be different for you if you’re taller. Or you could try speed pulls against chains. Just my 2 cents.

CS[/quote]
EDIT: I will order a pair of bands and give them a whirl, thanks for the idea.

I’m 6 foot 200lb fwiw.

RE: video

It looks like you’re not pushing your hips through all the way to finish the movement. It’s pretty subtle, but there’s a back raise/torso-uprighting that occurs just before the hips lock out. Those two things should be in sync with each other. A lot of the times, this is due to the upper back not being tight/strong enough (i.e. torso wants to correct itself first, get into the strong position, before the hips have a chance to lock-out). Not always the case though.

It looks like your hips are explosive though, so it’s the first thing I’d bet on.

[quote]animus wrote:
RE: video

It looks like you’re not pushing your hips through all the way to finish the movement. It’s pretty subtle, but there’s a back raise/torso-uprighting that occurs just before the hips lock out. Those two things should be in sync with each other. A lot of the times, this is due to the upper back not being tight/strong enough (i.e. torso wants to correct itself first, get into the strong position, before the hips have a chance to lock-out). Not always the case though.

It looks like your hips are explosive though, so it’s the first thing I’d bet on.[/quote]
Sorry, just trying to understand your comments so bear with me.

Are you saying I finish more with the back than the hips - ie I straighten my torso, then pull my hips through to stand straight?

As opposed to my upper back supporting the angle while my hips lead through to finish the movement?

I see what you mean by a slight indiscretion between my hips and upper back. I’ll have a play with this when I pull on Friday.

Earlier this year I was called on not locking out properly - perhaps due to lack of glute activation I am “locking out” by straightening my torso rather than correctly flexing through with the glutes.

Thanks for your feedback!

some awesome responses in this thread. i think they have everything covered

^ hard. I appreciate all the comments.
I’ve started with rack pulls (shockingly weak; struggled with 3 x 6 @ 145kg, while I can easily pull 180kg x 6 from the floor…) and weighted glute bridges this week - will also look at my lockout form and timing in relation to hips and torso. Hopefully next time I pull 500 it won’t look like I’m falling apart.

If you’re going to use bands, my suggestion has always been to use really high amounts of band tension. That way you absolutely HAVE to lift as fast as you possibly can. One of the guys in our club likes to do low rack pulls with short monster mini and short strong bands, adding about 250lb at the top of the lift. The strong bands add tension extremely quickly. I’ve found this is a great glute movement, actually.

Since people touched on heavy corrective excercises, I will touch on something else.

Extra Work.

anything that is lagging in strength or hypertrophy should be trained frequently. It doesnt need to be with 1000 lbs either.

If you look at some of the stuff westside or Dave Tate has written about warmups, they were doing more WORK in warmups than people do in a workout, sled pulls, abs, reverse hyper etc. They built up to this gradually.

From my own perspective. My deadlift is actually alot stronger towards lockout. Before every single workout I do, my warmup includes 20-30 back extensions and 30-50 kettlebell swings.

This extra work doesnt really fatigue you before hand, but I do feel it is the reason I am alot stronger towards the top. My hamstrings and glutes have hypertrophied measurably.

You can do this for any weak point.