Last week we looked at the reasons why you may have sticking points within your squat. In this week’s edition I will be explaining why you may have sticking points within your Deadlift. For example depending on your training if you take yourself as an example take a look at how you and your gym buddy deadlift and the areas you struggle with most. I suspect it will be slightly different areas.
Well why is this? It could be down to your genetics, form or your current training plan. But don’t worry we can compensate and do a different variant to increase your strength in the area you are lacking.
If you are like me sometimes I can hit a good set of 3 - 5 reps and feel fairly confident I could go heavier. However after sliding another 10lbs on each side find it hard to pull the weight off the floor and begin the movement. No-one likes to plateau but this was literally a real sticking point for me. At this point I realised I wasn’t training my body to get stronger in this area of the lift and I was going through the motions of my deadlifts.
My deadlifts were weak at the bottom due to a weak point in my physique my hamstrings and the lack of speed I had of the floor. Once I realised this I changed my program to include deficit deadlifts, speed deadlifts and some Romanian or stiff leg deadlift work to increase strength.
To perform a deficit deadlift set yourself up like normal, except raise your feet an inch and over the weeks increase your height from the floor. This puts a lot more pressure on the legs to work to get the bar up because you are starting lower than normal.
A speed deadlift is going to be about 60 - 70% of your 3 - 5 rep max and is performed by performing a normal deadlift in an explosive manner on the way up but a slow and controlled eccentric. The quicker you can lift an object the more force you will generate so this is where you will see benefits later on in your plan. Therefore you will be building on your explosive power.
Stiff leg and Romanian Deadlifts are both variants of the deadlift that shift the majority of the emphasis onto your hamstrings. So there will be a direct correlation to how strong you are in these exercises to how strong you are within a deadlift from the floor. However flexion and extension at the hips is often forgotten when most gym goers train their hamstrings and much more common functions such as flexion of the knee are overused. For example the majority of people have heard of the seated or lying leg curl machine unlike a stiff or Romanian deadlift that remain relatively unknown exercises.
Stiff leg Deadlift Is performed by utilising the hamstrings in one of their main functions. This is done by simply keeping your back and legs straight and driving your hips back and squeezing your hamstrings and glutes throughout the movement. Hamstring flexibility can definitely be a problem with this movement so if you have tight hamstring and it affects the range of motion you may have to opt for the Romanian deadlifts.
Romanian Deadlifts are performed exactly the same way however you maintain a slight bend in the knee still maintaining constant tension on the hamstrings and glutes. See how I keep my hips back and pivot at the hips keeping my knees at a constant angle.
Another problem you may find is that you hard to lift it past your knee, this is caused by poor strength in the Erector Spinae (Lower Back) or your Lats. Again if you have been slacking with Rows or Pulldowns you can expect this to be a harder area for you.
To strengthen this area of the lift you can do rack pulls. A rack pull is exactly the same as a conventional deadlift but you start with the bar in an elevated position about mid shin level. Whilst performing the lift always make sure that your shoulders are pinned back and you’re tensing your Lats and Lower back maintaining tension throughout the lift. If you still find a rack pull very hard I suggest doing some more accessory work. I would definitely include some Bent over Barbell or Pendlay rows and some Wide grip chin ups to increase your overall back strength.
So next time you have a deadlift session take note of where you struggle the most and think of my tips and try to overcome your weakness with clever programming. Stay tuned next week for part 3 of my Becoming A Juggernaut In The Gym – The Press.
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