Dec 18, 2012

If I was ever asked what my favorite lift was, I would hands down, no doubt in my mind, without hesitation, say the deadlift.

The deadlift is the epitome of strength. It's just you and the bar. There's no way to cheat it. You either pick it up or you don't.

Quite simple sounding until you actually grab onto the cold iron and feel the wraught tension throughout your entire body as every sinew and muscle fiber force themselves to move the weight. It's not only a physically demanding lift, but a mental one as well.

The strongest men in the world have phenomenal deadlift numbers. Back in the Golden Era of bodybuilding, greats such as Franco Columbu had outstanding deadlifts and were actually as strong as they looked.

If you've ever seen the World's Strongest Man competition or any powerlifting meet you know that deadlifts are as important as breathing.

So What Does This Have To Do With Me?

Well, whether you believe it or not, you perform deadlifts on a daily basis. Maybe you grab your grocery bags from the floor, pick up your kids and carry them up the stairs, help move a couch, shovel snow, lift a wheelbarrow to haul some soil, the list goes on. At one point or another during your day you pick something up off the floor.

So not only should you deadlift, you should be proficient at it.

How To Deadlift

If you're going to pick up some heavy weight you should have a grasp on how to do it right. The following is a short list of concepts to keep in mind when performing this grueling lift:

1.  Foot Placement.

Everyone is going to have a different foot position. Before you get all crazy and wonder if you should pull sumo or semi-sumo or what have you just try to start with your heels at shoulder width or slightly closer and your toes pointed out slightly.

2.  Bar Placement.

If you look directly down at your feet, the bar should be cutting off your toes. This way when you bend down to grab the bar your shins will touch the bar. If the bar is touching your shins before you go down to grab it you're too close.

3.  Keeping Tension.

The deadlift, much like the squat, bench, and overhead press, is all about tension. If you loosen up during the lift you will fail or even worse, seriously hurt yourself. As you reach down to grab the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to activate your upper back and lats. Keep your lower back arched and static. It may not be perfectly arched the entire time but never let it round. Squeeze the hell out of your glutes and quads during the lift and don't think about pulling the bar up, think about pushing the floor away.

4.  Breathing.

Before you lift take a deep diaphragmatic breath (into your belly not your chest) and hold the air like your bracing to be punched in the gut. As you lift, about 1/2 way up begin to release the air by making a hissing sound. This will make sure you're keeping intra-abdominal pressure.

5.  Bar Path and Torso.

Keep the bar as close to your body as possible throughout the entire lift. DO NOT let the bar get away from you. This will put all of the pressure on your lower back. No bueno. Think about shaving your legs with the bar. Also do not let your chest fall below your hips or your legs lock out before your chest is almost perfectly upright. Picture a piece of paper folded in 3. If you unfold the paper by pulling both ends at the same time everything unfolds evenly. That is your deadlift.

6.  Lockout.

Please don't be THAT GUY who leans all the way back at the top of the deadlift. Just stand up straight and squeeze the hell out of your glutes. This will force your hips through. At this point you should be standing erect and pulling your shoulders back if need be.

This is what it should look like:

Now go pick things up and put them down!!

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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