T Nation

Mental aspect of Deadlifting

Ill get right to the point. I am 6 ft tall and weigh 183 pounds. I started deadlifting about two months ago and I have a question. I pulled 405 the other day, but it took everything I had to complete the lift. I can do 315 for 5 x 5 without a problem. I think I am having a mental block on the heavier weight. How much does the mental side of heavy lifting actually effect the lift. I think it is hindering me and how do I get over it?

Should I start by using heavy weight and pull from the rack to get used to the weight or am I going in the wrong direction here?? Any comments would be appreciated.

G, you can do that. I will say that the mental aspect is the biggest point of deadlifting. What kills me is missing a max. It can mentally ruin me more than missing any other max. I have to get psyched up and tell the weight that it’s going to be in my hands when I stand up and there’s no way around it. I don’t let it mess with my head anymore.

I use to think that by missing a ME in dead, it would mentally screw me up afterwards.

But no more. What I do now is go over, technically, where it is that I missed the dead. Was it from the floor? At the knee? Or hip?

Once I figure the weak link in that area, I then devise a way to attack it. That helps alleviate any mental doubt that could have been brought upon by that missed attempt.

Another thing I did last time was that I had missed a PR attempt of 325. I had easily pulled 315 before that attempt; so after my miss, I just decided to pull 315 again. Had never pulled 315 twice in a session. I pulled it easily again and that thar was a PR in itself.

Next time, I’ll be pulling 330. :-))

Thanks for the posts. I managed to pull 405 twice yesterday…It was freakin heavy, but it got done. I still have a lot of work to do to get to my goal of 500+…Thanks again.

I agree with Patricia. I pulled 534 at a meet in December. Later that month, I got stupid and tried a max effort deadlift in training. It was the wrong day to do it for several reasons, and I missed 539 when 534 had felt like a joke at the meet. This screwed with me for awhile, even though I knew why I had screwed the lift.

Spend time hammering your weakpoints hard and you’ll feel better about coming back to it. If you aren’t deadlifting for speed, do that too. Take 50-60% of your 1RM and hammer out 6-10 singles with short rest periods (20-30s).

After you’ve spent time working on your deadlift without actually deadlifting, you will not only be physically prepared to smash PRs, but mentally as well.

This is some good fucking advice. Thanks for the post! I’m sure we have all been there at some point in time.

Yeah, I think for the next few weeks, I will just work on speed and form and not try to think about my max. Then who knows…Thanks for the advice.

We’re not on top every day. Some days everything goes to hell, you burn the toast in the morning, the car don’t start, late for work, the boss nag you etc. etc. Days like that, it’s hard to set a PR. Too much accumulated stress.

If you miss a lift, analyze it and learn from it.

I find it less stressful to max out in DL than Squat or BP. Squat and BP you have to rely on your spotters, DL you just drop the damn bar, no big deal!!

If you are maxing out and the weight feels heavy, good, that is why it is a max. Now when i compete even my openers feel heavy even though i move them easily. That is one of the benefits of ME days, they teach you to get used to the feel of heavy weights and they teach you to strain hard in order to complete the lift where others would fail.

Funny timing for this thread. I hit 539 this morning (see earlier post about the 539) pretty easily after box squats.

What O Guard said.

I worry more about what my supplementary exercises are doing. I train pulls to learn how to strain. On a given day, if I strain at 95% of what I did last time in training, who cares? IMHO, pulling at over 95% is totally emotional.

I never pull as much in my basement or at the gym as I do at a meet. I lack the same level of determination and aggression.

One other comment. I have noticed that great pullers are patient. In other words, they know how to strain both physically/neurologically and mentally. They hold form and drive through things that would stall average pullers or lead to a breakdown in technique causing red lights.

One little trick I always play on my mind is shrugs and walkouts.
ie If I want to max out on DL at 600 I’ll throw 700 on the bar in the rack and lift it about 2 inches or so. Just once in awhile not every frickin week, but just so you can feel the weight, then when your over 600 your thinking “this is 100lbs lighter than 700 surely I can lift this pansy weight”

It doesn’t make you any stronger but it’s pretty effective mind manipulation!

Hey, great work !

I also do DL sets @ 315 but my question is; are you working gradually to 405 ?
I remember trying to go straight from 315 to 405 and man was I wrong… I did one rep and the weight laughed back at me… now my focus is incremental weight increases on the DL so I don’t blow anything in my lower back.
No one lifts at their best every session bu the key is going with how you feel that day.

Keep lifting. JAY

Just yell, “light weight!” or tell yourself outloud that it’s “nothin’ but a peanut.” It works for Ronnie… “Yeah buddy!” (That’s what I saw Coleman do before he hit 800 for a double, no suit, CONVENTIONAL!!!)

But in my own experiences, the difference between smashing a new P.R. and just slamming into an old wall is always gonna be mental. I used to get real hyped up for bench, but as I develope as a lifter, and my bench techniques become more refined, it’s become more about focusing on the groove and getting my mind in it. But when it comes to the dead, it is, and always has been about harnessing the rage and using every bit of aggression you have to pull that bar up. I probably put more time into developing and perfecting my dead technique than most people, but that’s so that when I start my mental prep right before a P.R. attempt, I don’t lose my form when my heads rushing and I got that rage flowin’ through me. Just set your feet, grab the bar, countdown, set, and pull, baby!

My advice to add to the good advice above would be, make sure you spend enough time at low weights PERFECTING your form, because in the deadlift, probably more than any other lift, when you start pullin a weight you never have before, it’s real easy to lose your form real quick; and as soon as you lose your form, you might as well drop the weight before you get hurt.

P.S. I love deadlift threads… someone should start one in the pics section; then we can really evaluate form.


Mule: a deadlift thread was begun in the Photo forum. It’s called “Big Deadlifts”.