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Post-Competition Deadlift Form Check

so I’ve recently competed in a deadlift competition, I had just finished my LP but will be going back into it since I’ve lost some strength in my squat and press. I had posted the video of my competition in another site and have been told my deadlift sucks, but not really told why it sucks. now, I was never the type to film myself working out because of time constraints so this was also the first time I’ve seen myself lifting since I first began. I’ll be posting my third lift from the competition as well as my last workout from yesterday. On my video from the competition I moved the bar a bit forward as I took in some air, I know that’s a mistake. On my workout from yesterday I tried to extend my lower back a bit more and also narrowed my stance by about an inch and a half on each side. now on competition day I lifted 179kg with my sucky technique and yesterday when I tried the new stance I couldn’t get 150kg off of the ground. So I reduced the weight to 144kg and did my five, but they were a bit all over the place. It felt really heavy for that weight and I felt like I wasn’t lifting it from the correct stance. As I dropped the weight I also noticed the bar moving forward a bit and I had to bring the bar back to me a couple of times (this didn’t really happen with my previous stance).

So these are the the videos from competition day:
from the front:

from the side:

this is my last workout:

I’m really just trying to improve. Was the technique from the competition really that ugly? am I getting better with the video of the last workout or going backwards? I feel like I’m going backwards because of the weight, but perhaps if the technique is getting better the weight will go up once I get used to it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Additional info, I’m 42 and 5’5 (which is why I’m not wearing a belt, I’m trying to get a 3" belt but they don’t have those here).

Most short guys seem to find the sumo style deadlift works better for them.

It would be helpful to know your weight and squat PR. Helps to compare squat vs deadlift PR’s.

I find it easiest for me to help form on the traditional deadlift if I can watch them do touch and go reps. Your body tends to let the bar down to the ground in the most efficient bar path and body position. That bar path and body position is usually your strongest form.

Just watching it seems as though your form is not terrible. Also, why not perform the negative as opposed to dropping the weight? How many times a week do you train deadlifts with at least 80% of your maximum?

BTW, I could never begin to get close to my max deadlift the week following a meet. After trying once, I rested the deadlift for 2 weeks before including it back in my routine.

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hey, thanks for the feedback! I weigh 75kg, I never really PR’d my squat (I’m still a novice), my best squat when I was about to finish my LP was 140kg 3x5 five. It has since gone down to 130kg 3x5 but I am currently working it back up again. I never really PR’d anything really, just my deadlift one week before the meet to see where I was at, but I understand that was a mistake (I’m still trying to figure these things out). My best deadlift was 157kg for five. The week prior to the meet I pulled 176kg and then failed at 180kg, then did 179kg at the meet which was actually my PR which I did in the meet, I thought it was pretty cool.

I’ve been thinking of changing to sumo, but I really like conventional, my goal was to at least hit 200kg for five before changing, but I do want to compete so I might have to change sooner.

The way I learned the deadlift was to drop the weight, but if you’re saying there are things to be gained from performing the negative I can start doing them too.

So the form you see on my meet date is okay? Cause I really do like doing them like that, I just wasn’t sure if it was okay from a performance perspective.

“Okay” is a relative description. The videos seem to show that the weight is not too far out in front of you. But you still might not be pulling the optimal bar path. Most people could use some fine tuning, because their form is leaving too much weight on the floor.

Adding the negative requires more recovery time between heavy pulls. Watch that you don’t find yourself overtraining.

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yeah, I’m going to try to see if I can have some help from some powerlifting trainers I found in my city, it’s an hour drive but I’m thinking of doing a couple of practices with them to fix things up this year. As for the negatives I’ll try to add them in and see how that goes, thanks again for the feedback brother!

Don’t worry, most people’s deadlifts suck. Takes years of practice and training for most people to get a decent deadlift, and if you don’t learn properly it can be a pain undoing bad habits. Good news is your looking for help to get better so your on the right track. Speaking as someone whose deadlift was an uncomfortable dumpster fire for the majority of the decade and a half of lifting weights I promise you with some consistent cues and practice you will notice a big difference.

I would put it solidly in the realm of “ok”. Good news is there are a few things you could probably correct fairly easily with some practice. Also take into consideration that at a competition, if you are truly doing a max effort lifting some form breakdown can be expected, but should be avoided if possible. It almost looks like you are setting up for a clean, or “clean style” deadlift. Did you by chance start lifting through Crossfit?

I will preface this by saying it is important to take into consideration that everyone is built different so everyone might have a different way of deadlifting. However, there are some “best practices” that everyone should implement:

  1. Your back should be straight and your spine should stay aligned from neck to lower back, and your shin angle should be perpendicular to the floor. If you cannot accomplish both of these, making your back as straight as possible should be priority. From your training video it looks like your back is straight, except for your final couple reps when you cock your head back like it means your will pull harder. Ideally you want your neck to stay in alignment the whole time. It’s hard to see your shin angle in any video, but from your stance width I assume its a bit angled.

  2. You will want to be braced and tight before initiating your pull. In your competition videos, you can see you almost “jump” into the the pull. This isn’t a great idea, as your going to lose a lot of power off the floor and probably place an undue amount of sheer stress on your spine and other body parts. Newer lifters often do this as a way to get a little more speed off the floor, but it can take a few moments getting tight in the bottom position of the deadlift. And it can feel like crap, which is why it is tempting to just rush through it and get the bar moving. Make sure you are locked in, all the way from you glutes, to your core, to your lats before initating your pull.

  3. The bar should be touching your shins solidly throughout every portion of the lift. If it is starting to drift away at any time, this probably a sign your uppper back (ie. lats) are not tight enough. You also may not be starting close enough to the bar.

  4. A good rule of thumb is your stance should probably be shoulder width to just inside shoulder width. Slight foot angle. Yours does look a bit wide, but I imagine that it’s because it’s more comfortable, and you get better leg drive in a stance similar to your squat. Like I stated before, it almost looks like you are setting up for a clean. Personally I deadlift with a very close foot stance. If my thighs weren’t so large I would probably deadlift with my heels touching. Also consider I am near your heigh (5’7") and I cannot sumo to save my life. It feels awful through every portion. So you may need to experiment with slight changes. The best stance is probably the one that allows you good leg drive out of the bottom but still allows you good pulling strength at the top. It also needs to allow you to get braced like I mentioned before. Again, you may need to experiment a bit over time.

  5. Find yourself some cues that you use for yourself, and use them to RESET AFTER EVERY REP. This is your practice. Everyone is different so everyone’s cues may differ. However, the same thing is probably going to work for most people. A good resource is a video on the EliteFTS Youtube channel. It is called So Ya Think You Can Deadlift with Swede Burns…or something to that effect. I highly recommend watching it. Made a huge difference for me.

This is because the way your deadlifting is currently your strongest position, but its probably not the most efficient. Over time with practice and training you will be able to lift more with more efficient technique. A lot of lifting is taking 3 steps forward 2 steps back. Check your ego, and you will have a longer, healthier lifting career.

I also do not deadlift with a belt and haven’t for years. It has always been extremely uncomfortable and prevents me from getting into position. This is not an uncommmon thing. If you’re new to lifting you can honesty probably forgo the belt while you learn proper breathing, bracing and technical proficiency. Introduce it back in later as a force multiplier/safety tool when prepping for a competition.

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Brother, thank you so much for taking the time to give me such a detailed feedback. I will take all your input into consideration and will try to improve my technique.

It almost looks like you are setting up for a clean, or “clean style” deadlift. Did you by chance start lifting through Crossfit?

I started at home and read Starting Strength as well as Practical Programming (haven’t read them in a while though), then I watched a few videos of Alan Thrall on the deadlift. I then moved on to a commercial gym but couldn’t use chalk and once I started failing at the deadlift and needed to introduce the cleans on alternative days I started training at a Crossfit gym. I learned the clean with them but they pretty much let me do my own thing and never really interfered with my workouts. Funny thing is is that before I workout at the Crossfit box I did have markings of the bar in my legs from the pull and needed to use soccer socks to make sure they didn’t bleed, after I started working out at the box I no longer used socks and thought that my skin got used to the bar and that’s why they no longer bled, but perhaps I just detrained my technique a bit once I introduced the clean and perhaps the bar was not touching the shin.

I will try to film myself from a better angle.

After watching the video from Elite Lifters I see what you mean. The cue Alan Thrall used was to put the chest out/forward, when I tried doing that I pushed my scapula towards the back and hurt my shoulder. After that I just figured that wile pulling big weights, the body would just adjust itself to the lift the best way it could and I pretty much left out the cues. I will try pushing my scapula down as the cue given by Swede Burns, which just by doing in front of the mirror does flex my chest a bit. I will also be more thoughtful of the hip drive while doing the movement. I pretty much just pulled the bar without thinking of cues per se. I think this is probably the biggest mistake.

I will film myself once again tomorrow and post it here, any chance you could watch my next workout later on the week when you have some time? I’d really appreciate it! Thanks again for the feedback brother, I know I have a long way to go and this is really helping me out!

You can post another video if you want, but it honestly isn’t a big deal. If you just start working through some cues, and reset after every rep you will probably be on the right track. As long as your back is straight, your staying tight before you start your pull, and the bar is against your shins the whole time your on your way.

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I’ll post the video but no worries, I tried the new cues and today’s lift felt much better than previous ones, so I think I’m on the right track. I actually failed the fifth rep, but I’ll lower it by 2kg next workout and start building it back up again with the new technique. by the way, I also used my squatting shoes for that, I’ve read before that it can be a good thing, what’s your take on that? Anyhow, thanks again for your time brother!

Today’s DL Workout

I think those reps looked pretty solid. If you look at your last rep, I think you were on track to hit it but about 3/4’s the way up your shin the bar started to swing out from your shins. A sign you probably lost tightness in your upper back (ie.lats). This is to be expected with a technical change in my opinion, and if you keep practicing you will quickly notice improvements.

What kind of programming do you run? Do you typically just work up to a top set of 5 reps?

Also, do you pull with hook grip?

Again, your mileage may vary, but IMO squat shoes are more likely to hurt than help. The raised heel likely means you have to start at a less mechanicaly advantageous position. A flatter shoe will get you closer to the bar.

In the grand scheme it doens’t matter all that much. Maybe try a training cycle with a flatter shoe and compare to using the squat shoes. Like I said before, experiment.

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hey thanks for the update. yeah I think the technique improved quite a bit, before I’d get some chink in the armor, like small pains every now and then in my lower back when doing day to day things. Nothing big, I just thought it was just something that came with the territory of lifting heavy. But since I’ve changed the technique I have no longer felt any little pains at all, so I think I’m on the right track for sure. on my last lift I lower’d the weight by 2kg and hit all five reps, going to try increasing the weight on next workout.

I’m running the Starting Strength novice linear progression, so I deadlift after I squat and usually just warm-up with increases of 40kg until I hit the working set and do a set of five. I’ve also changed a few things from SS. Before I’d do the deadlift on day A and cleans on day B, but I’ve recently changed it to deadlifts on day A and pendlay rows on day B (though I do them with an explosive pull and not slow). I also do weighted pullups at the end of every workout.

I do pull with a hook grip, I haven’t had any issues with it so far, feels quite comfortable.

yeah I think my lower back is getting better flexion with the squatting shoes (and the stance that I’m making is also narrower than before, which could be helping as well). All in all I’m feeling really comfortable with the changes, thanks again for the help brother, it helped tons with my technique!

Glad to hear your seeing some success. I also noticed a big difference with less pain and more stability when I finally learned how to brace properly.

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