YOU VS. GRAVITY
You grab the bar, and if you can lift it off the ground, you win. Use these hacks to maximize your deadlift faster than ever before. The deadlift is the weight lifting exercise that most readily translates to everyday life; everyone has bent over and picked something up before. There’s not many instances that you’ll find yourself naturally squatting or using a bench press motion as you go about your business. Deadlifting, though, is a daily occurrence for most people. You’ll bend over to pick up your baby’s bottle, your keys that you just dropped, or your cell phone when it falls out of your pocket.
In the gym, however, this exercise and movement gets a little more complicated. When you bend down to pick up hundreds of pounds instead of your car keys, you can expect some challenges. It takes time, effort, and form to master the art of the deadlift even though we’ve spent most of our lives picking things up off of the ground.
As you progress with this lift, you’re bound to hit certain plateaus. You may be able to increase your weight or reps rapidly in the beginning, but give it time and you’ll find yourself stuck at a number that you can’t get past. When you reach that plateau, it’s important to have strategies and hacks that will help you bypass your stagnancy. Use the following hacks to help you maximize your deadlift in less time than you’d think.
SWITCH UP YOUR STANCE
Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If you’ve been practicing a certain type of deadlift for a while, but are expecting your results to continue to increase, you’re going to drive yourself nuts. Let’s start with switching up your stance, because this option is available to anyone. Most men are taught and continue the practice of the Romanian Deadlift. In this stance, your feet are about shoulder width apart, your hands are a little bit wider than that on the bar, and you pull the bar off the ground by grabbing it, bending your knees, and fighting gravity until you’re standing tall. You’re using your lower body, core, and upper body to yank that bar off the ground and swing it upward.
Now, to use Einstein’s words and try to avoid insanity, use the Sumo Deadlift stance to switch up your approach. In this stance, you’re going to spread your feet out wide, and point your toes slightly outward. Your hand placement will be about the same is it was with the Romanian Deadlift, but it will feel different since your arms are now operating inside the spread of your legs instead of outside of them. Once you’ve got your feet and hands placed correctly, you again bend your legs, then use your lower body, core, and upper body to pull the bar up off the ground. This can be played both ways. If you’re currently using the Romanian Deadlift approach, try Sumo. If you’re practicing the Sumo Deadlift right now, go for the Romanian. This is important because each exercise, although similar, activate and strengthen different stabilizing muscles in your lower body and core. By altering your approach to the deadlift, you can give your body more overall strength. I’d suggest varying your deadlift approach for 2-3 weeks, then see how it’s affected your numbers on your preferred lift.
SWITCH UP YOUR EQUIPMENT
Another way to change up your approach to your deadlift is by finding a trap bar or hex bar in your gym. It’s called a hex bar because there is an opening that is in the shape of a hexagon that you would step into before you lift.
Most of us were brought up deadlifting with a straight bar and the trap bar will provide yet another variation on this old school lift. Like changing your stance, changing the bar that you use will challenge your body in slightly different ways that could prove beneficial to your old school, and probably preferred, straight bar deadlift.
SWITCH UP YOUR MINDSET
A lot of guys step up to the bar and just attempt to “grip it and rip it”. They just grab it as tightly as possible and give it all they’ve got without thinking too much about their mindset or their form. One quick mindset hack
is to envision yourself pushing the floor away with your legs as you lift the bar up. This mindset approach does two things for you:
1) It gives your mind one specific thing to focus on rather than just focusing on the general mission of lifting the bar.
2) It forces you to use more of your legs as you lift. Far too many guys rely more on their upper body and core than they should. By telling yourself that you’re going to push the ground away with your legs, you’ll more readily engage your quads, glutes, and hamstrings as you attempt to lift big weight.
SWITCH UP YOUR WORKOUTS
At a certain point, trying to improve your deadlift by deadlifting more often is a fool’s errand. Once you hit your plateau and can’t break through it, leave the deadlift alone and focus your energy on exercises that could enhance the major muscle groups involved in the deadlift. You incorporate most of your muscles for your heaviest lifts, but there’s a definite emphasis on your lower body and core when you’re attempting to pick that bar up off the ground.
Show some love to this part of your body by squatting more, doing more lunges, and working your core to the max. By stabilizing these areas of the body, you’ll eventually create a more formidable machine to lift with. Your strength will become more well rounded and your deadlift numbers will increase because of that extra attention you paid to the details. The deadlift can separate the men from the boys.
The heavier your lift gets, the stronger you will be overall. As you increase your reps and your weight, keep these hacks in mind. There will always be a plateau or a road block waiting for you as you progress. Use these tactics to break down those mental and physical barriers and become the beast that you’re striving to be.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.