T Nation

Keeping DL Weight on the Heels

First off, thanks to Dave Tate, Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey. My previous deadlift PR was 340. After reading your articles, I bought a pair of Chucks, put your tips to use and hit 355 this past week. Still not great, but it’s improving.

My problem is trying to pull the weight back toward me and keeping the weight on my heels. I don’t know if my setup is wrong or what, but at the beginning of the lift the pressure is on the balls of my feet and toes.

I lift on a mat that is not is not completely hard, it’s made from some kind of hard foam and it has a little give to it. Do you think that has anything to do with it? Any ideas?

You might have tight hamstrings, tight achilles tendons, both, or something else entirely. Without seeing your form it is difficult to diagnose.

Why are you lifting on foam? Could you find some other surface to lift on?

What kind of shoes are you wearing??? Try a flat shoe or dling in socks. Most shoes are arched and will throw you off. Vans (the skateboarding shoe) and wrestling shoes are the two I can think of that keep your feet flat.

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
You might have tight hamstrings, tight achilles tendons, both, or something else entirely. Without seeing your form it is difficult to diagnose.

Why are you lifting on foam? Could you find some other surface to lift on?[/quote]

I use it because I lift in my basement and if I drop the weight it’ll protect the floor and the plates. The mats come in squares that you attach together. I guess I could put a couple of mats under the plates and stand in between them. Do you think that would help?

[quote]kroc30 wrote:
What kind of shoes are you wearing??? Try a flat shoe or dling in socks. Most shoes are arched and will throw you off. Vans (the skateboarding shoe) and wrestling shoes are the two I can think of that keep your feet flat.[/quote]

I am now lifting in Chuck Taylors.

Those should be flat also. It’s much easier to stay on your heels in a flat shoe. I would work on your hamstring and core strength. Those will stabilize you more and help you stay back where you need to be.

Are you pulling conventional or sumo?

An important thing to do is to start with the bar touching your shins. Keep the bar close, barely touching your body. Starting with the bar far or having it drift away will cause you to get up on your toes.

beef

I think you guys may be right about the hammies. For hamstring work I usually rotate among good-mornings, stiff-leg deads, or pull-thoughs. Anything other exercises you would suggest? What if I hit them twice a week?

As far as starting with the bar touching your shins… it’s a little more complicated than that, although that’s a great general guide to work from. What you want to to is start with your hips as high as possible and as close to the bar as possible with a straight back. For lifters with good leverages, this means shins on the bar. For others, myself included, this means the bar starts in the middle of the foot.

The weight shifts to my heels about 1/3 through the lift. This allows for an optimum starting position (for my long-legged self) and then takes advantage of hip power as soon as possible. If I tried to set up with the bar on the shins and low hips, I’d be creating the longest lever possible and barely be pulling 225.

Oh, and yeah, putting a mat under each plate and standing in the middle would work great, although you may want to stand on a wooden slab if it raises the plates very much.

[quote]beefcakemdphd wrote:
Are you pulling conventional or sumo?

An important thing to do is to start with the bar touching your shins. Keep the bar close, barely touching your body. Starting with the bar far or having it drift away will cause you to get up on your toes.

beef[/quote]

I pull conventional. I haven’t tried sumo yet.

[quote]buffalokilla wrote:
As far as starting with the bar touching your shins… it’s a little more complicated than that, although that’s a great general guide to work from. What you want to to is start with your hips as high as possible and as close to the bar as possible with a straight back. For lifters with good leverages, this means shins on the bar. For others, myself included, this means the bar starts in the middle of the foot.

The weight shifts to my heels about 1/3 through the lift. This allows for an optimum starting position (for my long-legged self) and then takes advantage of hip power as soon as possible. If I tried to set up with the bar on the shins and low hips, I’d be creating the longest lever possible and barely be pulling 225.

Oh, and yeah, putting a mat under each plate and standing in the middle would work great, although you may want to stand on a wooden slab if it raises the plates very much.

[/quote]

Part of the problem may be that as I’m trying to get my hips close to the bar, I’m leaning too far forward. It’s difficult to find the optimal height for the hips. At first, I had them too low and I was almost squatting the weight up. Then after I read the articles it felt much better; I just can’t seem to get the weight shifted to my heels until the top half of the movement.

As far as the mat goes, it only lifts the plates about 1/4 - 1/2 inch.

One thing you may want to try is actually lifting your toes. While pulling, curl your toes upward inside your shoes. If that’s too awkward, try just lifting the big toe on each foot.

Keep the balls of your feet firmly on the ground, but try to point your toes upward.(I guess that’s probably a better desciptor. Point your toes, don’t lift them.) You want to try and force your body in a position where your heels are the only place you can be pulling from.

I hope I made sense,
Toddy

To learn this, I attached bands to the power rack so that they pull the weight both forward and down so I really have to lean back on my heels or I fall over forward.

Put your toes on a 1"x4" board. I do all my deadlifting this way. Keeps you on your heels, then just push the heels through the floor.

I have a Dave Tate T-Nation article on the deadlift nailed up to remind me of all the little things to remember.

Try dumbell leg curls on a flat or decline bench (NOT machines!!!) and glute/ham raises. Both will bring up your hammies a ridiculous amount in a short amount of time. That Dave Tate article is awesome. I keep a copy around also. It should be in the archives since it came off this site.

Thanks for all the advice. The bands sound like a good idea, unfortunately I don’t have a rack or bands.

Kroc -
How do you do the leg curls with dumbbells? And, is there a way to do a GHR variation by myself without the usual equipment?

Gary -
Would putting my toes on 10lb plates do the trick, or do you suggest I go ahead buy a 1x4 board? By the way, are you Dan John’s brother? I remember reading in his online book that he had a brother named Gary.

Wedge the handle of the dumbell in between your feet around the arch. On a flat bench, I usually set myself to have the area just above the top of my knees against the edge of the bench. Hold yourself up (in other words, your hands and your legs should be the only two things on the bench and curl the dumbell up with your feet. Try it with just BW the first few times to get used to it. You’re going to feel it anyway.

It’s not a heavy movement, but it will bring your hams up alot more than machines. For the GHR’s, I usually wedge my legs in the seat of a lat pulldown and let myself down to a bench. It’s not the best way to do the movement, but it will work.

I am his brother, but I don’t know nothing. The ten# plates work fine. Dan goes up to a 2"x4", but I lift in 8"work boots, I like the ankle support.

Dan got me started back in August, 2002 with his first “GetUp”. I was 53 and finally starting to feel old. Real long story short, we are both going to the Master’s Weight pentathlon in Dallas next week. I ended up throwing the discus, then added the shotput, hammer, javelin, and weight throw.

Most of what I do is farmwer’s walks, waiter’s walks, pull-ups, and lots of deadlifts. I try to pass on any little tricks I learn from Dan. But, then, I’m kind of the “GetUp” lab rat. When something new comes along, I usually run out and try it first.

You’ll find the deadlift will get you a lot of bang for the buck. Throw in a ton of overhead squats and you’re half the way there.

[quote]super saiyan wrote:
Part of the problem may be that as I’m trying to get my hips close to the bar, I’m leaning too far forward. It’s difficult to find the optimal height for the hips. At first, I had them too low and I was almost squatting the weight up. Then after I read the articles it felt much better; I just can’t seem to get the weight shifted to my heels until the top half of the movement.
[/quote]

It may just be a matter of practice with lighter weights, then. You’re basically learning a new movement compared to the low hips deadlift, you’re breaking old motor patterns and establishing new ones.

Also, if you’re pitching forward a little at the top, it could just be that your hips are a little weak compared to your quads in that ROM. If you have a way to do partial deads (plates under the plates, for instance), that would help I believe.

I wouldn’t use a board under your toes, that’s going to put more shearing force on your knees, and longevity is the name of the iron game.

-Dan

Don’t keep your hips close to the bar!! That will only cause a lot of problems. You need the set up with the bar just about against your shins and then set your hips and lower back like you are doing an arched back good morning. So you want a tight arch abd push your hips back. This will help you to pull the weight back and keep your shoulders behind the bar.

[quote]super saiyan wrote:
buffalokilla wrote:
As far as starting with the bar touching your shins… it’s a little more complicated than that, although that’s a great general guide to work from. What you want to to is start with your hips as high as possible and as close to the bar as possible with a straight back. For lifters with good leverages, this means shins on the bar. For others, myself included, this means the bar starts in the middle of the foot.

The weight shifts to my heels about 1/3 through the lift. This allows for an optimum starting position (for my long-legged self) and then takes advantage of hip power as soon as possible. If I tried to set up with the bar on the shins and low hips, I’d be creating the longest lever possible and barely be pulling 225.

Oh, and yeah, putting a mat under each plate and standing in the middle would work great, although you may want to stand on a wooden slab if it raises the plates very much.

Part of the problem may be that as I’m trying to get my hips close to the bar, I’m leaning too far forward. It’s difficult to find the optimal height for the hips. At first, I had them too low and I was almost squatting the weight up. Then after I read the articles it felt much better; I just can’t seem to get the weight shifted to my heels until the top half of the movement.

As far as the mat goes, it only lifts the plates about 1/4 - 1/2 inch.[/quote]