Training your deadlift if you have poor technique – how to get stronger without getting hurt.

Deadlift, Powerlfiting, Programme , , , , , ,

When I take my powerlifting seminar and we get onto the deadlift this is my first slide you will notice how I don’t mention how the deadlift is the king of strength or the best mass builder.  It is probably the best spine snapper however that a least isn’t hyperbole.

You see the vast majority of folk who haven’t had a coach or haven’t invested in a good trainer who knows their way around the weight room don’t know what a good and bad deadlift is.  They consider it a good lower back workout because after every session they wake up with crippling lower back pain from pulling through a lumbar spine that probably better resembles a hump back bridge.  Or they consider it too fatiguing for the central nervous system because they have just used every ounce of structural integrity their connective tissue in their lower back to not have a herniated disc.

I am not saying your deadlift should be the prettiest thing to look at all of the time (maybe it should) but you should definitely not be going into angry cat mode every week in training this will not end well.  If you keep shooting for the stars with your deadlift numbers week in and week out with poor technique, then eventually you’re going to be investing in a stair lift.  Most people don’t understand or twig how to set their lower back during the deadlift you can watch the video below for some good ques on how to get the back straight.

This article is to try and help you understand how you can still train the deadlift and get stronger at it whilst not snapping your shit.

1 – Technique! Technique! Technique! 

The first thing you need to understand is that the numbers on the bar do not matter in deadlift probably for the first 6-12 months of trying to reporgamme your movement depending on how bad it was to start with.  You need to focus on perfecting the movement first before you can start to challenge it with different loads, volumes or variations that are more intense or challenging.

This means you should have a good frequency, volume and appropriate intensity during your training blocks something along the lines of

Week 1

Session 1 – 8×4 @ 60%

Session 2 – 8×4 @ 60%

Week 2

Session 3 – 6×3 @ 70%

Session 4 – 6×3 @ 70%

Week 3

Session 5 – 8×4 @ 65%

Session 6 – 8×4 @ 65%

Week 4

Session 7 – 6×3 @ 75%

Session 8 – 6×3 @ 75%

None of these workouts would prove stressful to someone who had a good stable deadlift technique maybe week 2 and 4 might be a good volume based or recovery based workout for someone who had a good technique.  Because you see we are training movement, not strength so pay attention to what you are doing.

2 – Pay Attention to What the Fuck You Are Doing!

The next one is directly in line with the last one just because you are lifting light weights means you can switch off and not pay attention.  You need to perfect your practice that means your need to think about and try to execute perfect movement on every god damned movement.  This one is definitely where the lifters who don’t have me breathing down their throats every workout can tend to falter.

Every single rep of every single workout is an opportunity to hone your craft you should be thinking through your set up, how you a preparing to execute, how you are executing and at the end of every rep compare it to the previous.  Video every set and review it and get your training partner or better yet a coach to provide some feedback with every set to see where you can improve or where you are going wrong.

I really can’t overemphasis this step, do not get lazy or slack with your practice this is literally the most important bit of advice anyone will ever give you for your lifting or for sport in general.  Pay attention to your practice do not just punch the fucking ticket ever!

3 – Challenge position not your body

We have covered off that technique is really the goal here and we can only really do that with a weight that allows for room for error, with enough frequency/volume to get in practice and if you going to do your due diligence and pay attention to what you’re doing when your executing the movement.  Once you have those two implemented which are the most important factors then you need to think about how to challenge your skill learning.
Exercises such as pause deadlifts, tempo lifts, block pulls or deficit pulls with the appropriate heights and intensities can help to challenge your understanding of the skill and with time they will lead to more efficient execution.  What you should stop doing is thinking of the exercises that constitute powerlifting as exercises and muscles and start thinking them as sports skills.  The more you get into this thought process the better you will get at working on the skill.

A good way of incorporating these exercises into your routine is as a secondary focus lift in a session something like

Exercise 1 – Deadlift – 8×4 @ 65%

Exercise 2 – Bench Press – 6×6 @ 75%

Exercise 3 – Pause Deadlift – 4×4 @ 65%

If you do something like this for every deadlift session and target the exercise selection correctly so it is addressing your learning problems than you will accelerate your progress.

4 – Build strength through assistance exercises

Just because you’re not doing the movement with an overload intent or smashing your pan in doing deadlift in the programme doesn’t mean you can’t get stronger doing other activities.  A lot of lifters have very poorly conditioned backs, glutes and hamstrings and can get a lot of benefit from doing remedial work to focus on these weaknesses.  I’ve seen one of my female lifters go from failing 92.5 kg (205lb) to hitting 100kg for six reps (220) after not training deadlift for 4 weeks.

The idea is to promote strength in the correct positions and to overwork the component muscles needed during your lift.  This means that you don’t train your lowerback in bad positions and you don’t choose wild silly exercises that have nothing to do with deadlifting.  A good battery of exercises will challenge back extension, hip extension and upperback strength.  Good examples of exercises you can use for this are – hyperextension, reverse hyper, swings, RDLs, Nordics, Hamstring Curls any kind of partial deadlift.

5 – Save the heavy efforts for intermittent opportunities or for competitions.

The last thing is to understand that you only get so many heavy rounded backed deadlifts during your lifting life.  The trick is to utilise them when they matter and they don’t matter in the gym every week when your nowhere near competing or all your trying to do is build a better physique.

Stuart McGill says you only get so many spinal flexions in your life before you snap your shit up (paraphrased).  So why waste your flexions doing a weight no one gives a shit about on your back day.  If you’re in training keep your form flawless and make that your go-to habit there is no reason to round your back, drop the load and suck it up.

Now opportunities you might want to just say fuck it may be a competition, which of course your there to win not to look too good so save it for that moment.  Maybe you’re doing an overload or shock block and need to just get through the work to move you further along to your bigger goal again you get your spinal flexion boo-boo.  Or maybe you’re at the end of an 8-week technique or volume cycle and you want to open the taps a bit and see where you’re at.  You see the common factor between all of these factors is there is an actual reason or goal behind letting your form go because you’re going for it.

Simple 4 week cycle to help you deal with your shitty deadlift technique and get stronger

Week 1 –

Session 1

1 – Deadlift – 8 sets 4 @ 60%

2 – Pause Deadlift – 4 sets 4 @ 60%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 10 @ 40% (use your deadlift stance)

Body weight hyper extension x 20
KB Swing x 20
Single leg dumbbell deadlift x 8 each side

4 laps

Session 2

1 – Deadlift – 8 sets 4 @ 60%

2 – Deficit Deadlift – 2 sets 8 @ 60%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 10 @ 40% (use your deadlift stance)

Body weight hyper extension x 20
Glute Extension x 20
DB Hell March x 8 each side

4 laps

Week 2 –

Session 1

1 – Deadlift – 6 sets 3 @ 70%

2 – Pause Deadlift – 4 sets 2 @ 70%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 6 @ 50% (use your deadlift stance)

Barbell hyper extension x 10
KB Swing x 10
Single leg dumbbell deadlift x 8 each side

4 laps

Session 2

1 – Deadlift – 6 sets 3 @ 70%

2 – Deficit Deadlift – 2 sets 6 @ 70%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 6 @ 50% (use your deadlift stance)

Barbell hyper extension x 10
Glute Extension x 10
DB Hell March x 8 each side

4 laps

Week 3 –

Session 1

1 – Deadlift – 8 sets 4 @ 65%

2 – Pause Deadlift – 4 sets 4 @ 65%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 10 @ 45% (use your deadlift stance)

Body weight hyper extension x 20
KB Swing x 20
Single leg dumbbell deadlift x 8 each side

4 laps

Session 2

1 – Deadlift – 8 sets 4 @ 65%

2 – Deficit Deadlift – 2 sets 8 @ 65%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 10 @ 45% (use your deadlift stance)

Body weight hyper extension x 20
Glute Extension x 20
DB Hell March x 8 each side

4 laps

Week 4 –

Session 1

1 – Deadlift – 6 sets 3 @ 75%

2 – Pause Deadlift – 4 sets 2 @ 75%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 6 @ 55% (use your deadlift stance)

Barbell hyper extension x 10
KB Swing x 10
Single leg dumbbell deadlift x 8 each side

4 laps

Session 2

1 – Deadlift – 6 sets 3 @ 75%

2 – Deficit Deadlift – 2 sets 6 @ 75%

3 – Giant set

RDL x 6 @ 55% (use your deadlift stance)

Barbell hyper extension x 10
Glute Extension x 10
DB Hell March x 8 each side

4 laps

 

Follow this programme and pay attention to what you’re doing using the step provided above and I give you my personal guarantee you will see your deadlift form come along and with enough time you will see your strength take off.

Marc

 

 

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