T Nation

Deadlifts - Keeping bar close to body?

just a quick question. i’ve always kept the bar extremely close to my body when doing deadlifts. i always thought the bar was supposed to rub against your shins. after reading dave tate’s article a few weeks ago (The Dead Zone) i am a little confused. he said keeping the bar close to your body was a mistake. i realize that the article was about powerlifting, not hypertrophy, so would it be accurate to say that for hypertrophy you should keep the bar close to your body and for powerlifting keep it further away. if anyone can clear this up i would appreciate it. Thanks

follow dave’s advise and you will lift more weight. if you lift more weight you will strain more and probably grow more.

Both ways are good, try changing them up every now and again.

I was watching the worlds-strongest-man-type deadlifing championship yesterday on ESPN and those guys were definitely scraping skin all the way up. I thing the winner was pulling around 780 lbs.

I find it simply amazing that some one offering weightlifting advice would offer an obvious uneducated opinion on “deadlifts”. I thought the goal was to educate and enhance physiques. Please always remember if your not scrapping skin your not executing correct form.

RH- If you’re referring to Dave Tate as “uneducated” when it comes to powerlifting then you just proved yourself to be a real dumbass. You must have no idea who he is. (Didn’t stop you from commenting though, did it?) Oh, and I’m pretty sure the Westside gang doesn’t care about “enhancing their physiques”.

Check out Ian King’s ‘Question of Power’ in issue 39.

He recommends keeping the bar in contact with the shins throughout the concentric movement.

Dave Tate’s style of deadlift is a guaranteed way to break your back. That is why he recomends rarely doing deadlifts. I used to deadlift Tate’s way until it destroyed my back. My back finally healed and now I deadlift King’s way and haven’t had a problem since. Plus Westside doesn’t have the best deadlifters.

I agree with molsonman & RH. I have previously destroyed my lower back with deadlifts. However, once it healed and I learned Ian King’s technique (part of which involves scraping your skin/legs with the bar) I can now deadlift without any problem. Think of it logically - the further out the bar is from your legs the greater the load on your lower back. Why would you want to do this and risk a back injury?

I agree with you guys who say the bar should scrape the shins. I normally agree with most of the Westside theories, but not this one. I have always pulled the bar up against my shins (with the scars to prove it!) and thought I would try Dave’s recommendation of starting with the bar away from the shins. It sucked! No matter how many times I tried, my poundages dropped. When I went back to my old form my poundages went back up-immediately.

this message relates more to lifting max weights in the deadlift. if you are deadlifting for size, it might not matter. almost every good deadlifter i’ve seen deadlift starts with his shoulders behind the bar and pulls the weight up and back into him. some lifters can do this with the weight starting against their shins because of their particular body type. others, typically larger atheletes, need to start with the bar farther away from their shins to be able to get their shoulders behind the bar. i read somewhere by i think fred hatfield that a study was done and deadlifters did better if they could get their shoulders behind the bar whereas oympic lifters did better if the bar was behind the shoulders. max deadlifting requires you to pull the bar into you and gain a leverage. you can’t do that if it alredy starts against you, ie, your shin. just because the bar starts more over the toes doesn’t mean it stays there. look at westside’s chuck voghopol’s deadlift pictures. his shins are bleeding. garry frank starts the deadlifting by rolling the bar towards him on the groud and starts picking up the bar when it is over his feet. his shins are bloody too. having bloody shins is not a badge of honor. lifting heavy weights should be. if as a consequence you get bloody shins, good for you.
and although westside “only” has 6 or 8 800 plus deadlifters and many in the high 700’s, ano just set the wpo record for a deadlift and he uses westside techniques.

I’m no anatomist, but I do my deadlifts/pulls/oly lifts with the bar over my metatarsophalangeal joints (that’s where my toes meet the rest of my feet) like the Soviets say to do. I find that I can lift more weight that way & feel it in my low back a lot more (soreness not pain-there’s a big difference) even though I don’t scrape the bar up my shins like I used to. I go for strength though & it might not matter which way you do them if you use higher reps with less weight for size.

My shoulders stay behind the bar when I use the Ian King style of deadlift.

I may be ignorant to some fact (as like Drax I am not an anatomist either) but I can’t see how not scrapping your shins being a good idea for safety OR enhancing the load. The further the bar is from your body the greater the moment arm and thus the resulting load on your lower back. Think of your back as a lever arm. Which to me means two things. One you’re more likely to injure your back due to this greater load not to mention the particular posture you would be in. Second if the load acting on your spine is effectively greater due to its distance from your body, and you can lift it for a given number of reps in safety. Then it stands to reason that if you hold the bar close to you reducing the resultant load on your back by X percentage then you should be able to load the bar with that much more weight and still be able to lift in safety. I realize in my model I’m neglecting leg strength, grip strength etc etc. But in a nut shell if the load on your back is less due to form then you should be able to lift more with that technique as opposed to the technique where the load is greater. Whether the addition would be 5, 10 or whatever pounds. That being said I still believe Dave Tate to be one smart guy. I’m just wondering if anyone else agrees with me or follows my reasoning? Possibly we all misunderstood Dave’s article? I apologize for the run on sentences. :slight_smile:

I may also be mistaken, but from talking to both Dave Tate and Louie Simmons two weeks ago in Columbus at the WPO Powerlifting, and seeing the mighty scabs and sores on Louie’s shins and hearing him talk about deadlifting, and from reading lots of their writings, I think some are misinterpreting Dave’s instructions. He’s beginning the lift with the bar at his toes, so he can PULL IT IN towards his body and lift. Most of the lift is indeed right against the legs/body; it’s the beginning pull from the ground he’s referring to, I do believe. I’m currently incorporating this beginning form into my deadlift workouts, and though it feels different, it’s gaining in strength for me already. Like anything new you have to work with it for a while.