Category Archives: How to increase your deadlift

1 Weird Deadlift Tip for Better Technique, Coaching and Teaching

Do you sometimes round your back when you deadlift?  This 1 weird deadlift teaching technique works like a charm if you’re having trouble getting a client to keep their back straight when it comes to the barbel deadlift.

If you’re  a beginner this technique might a bit difficult, but if you can master it you ‘ll be on your way to deadlifting without back pain.

If you’re a more advanced lifter, you probably already do this – but it matters more when you’re deadlifting 350lbs+

If you’ve watched as many deadlift video I have, you may have heard people say

“Stay tight.”


“Pull the slack of the bar first.”

This Deadift Technique video details how to do what I’m asking, without lifting the weight.  It’s a training and teaching tool helps improve motor patterns to prevent low back pain in the deadlift and of course, lift more weight.











Ryan’s Deadlift Seminar for Training Staff and Glute Anatomy Review

Apologies for any typos, this is a draft of the final article but is also an outline 

Deadlift Variations to be discussed

1.) Conventional Deadlift & Pause Deadlift

2.) Romanian Deadlift

3.) Stiff legged Deadlift

4.) Sumo Deadlift

5.) Deficit Deadlift

6.) Snatch Grip Deadlift

7.) Clean Grip Deadlift

8.) Block pulls and Rack pulls

“Deadlifting wrong is like driving on the highway on 2nd gear. You might get from point A to point B, but you’ll do it at cost that is often not worth the amount damage it would do to the engine.”

The most important thing

It’s important that you prioritize the spine. It’s quite common that our clients have very tight hamstrings that prevent them from reach the bar in the ideal position without rounding the lower back. Under most circumstances it’s best that a client squat down to the bar to position for a deadlift then tighten into their hamstrings. The purpose of all of this is to maintain neutral spine.

Context for Deadlift talk

Competition Deadlift for Powerlifting & Crossfit

Training specificity is paramount. Why are you teaching the deadlift for what purpose? In powerlifting you’re trying to maximize all avenues of leverage to lift the most amount of weight following the rules of the sport. The judge will say “platform ready.” You attempt your lift. You cannot use the top of your thighs to help the weight up. This is known as hitching.

In crossfit there are powerlifting type like ladders but hitching is allowed. It’s part of the sport.

In crossfit and work capacity type events, reps is the goal in the shortest period of time. As in powerlifting you’re trying to be efficient, but instead of a single repetition, you’re doing over multiple reps.

As you know I’m not a crossfit expert, but in multiple rep (especially high reps) there are 2 things I think about when it comes to using all the rules to your advantage. Bouncing the weight off the ground (touch & go) and rounding the the upper back. The rounding of the upper back “rule” works in powerlifting also. It helps reduce range of motion. Getting a rebound from a touch and go bounce along with a rounded upper back will allow for the shortest distance of travel possible.

Sports are about pushing human limits, sports have their risks. I’m not debating weather this is safe. I’m simply talking about how to use the rules of the sport to your advantage.

Deadlifting for your clients

Conventional Deadlift and RDL are the 2 movements that are most useful for clients in our gym. For those interested in olympic lifting, doing a clean grip style deadlift will also be useful.

The approach of what a deadlift should be viewed as is follows: picking something off the ground with a flat back (or neutral spine). This is is by far the most useful thing you can teach a client when teaching the deadlift. Can you touch the ground without compromising spinal position?

Glute Aesthetics from Deadlifting

Who doesn’t want a nice butt? Based on the way the gluteus maximus muscle fibers run, deadlifts are the best way to build the “shelf” of the glutes. Others might disagree, but that’s my opinion. This is all deadlifts. Sure squats work also, so that’s why do both. Some clients will progress better with one movement better than the other. Progression is important because muscle size is related to how much you can lift. For the purposes of this conversation usually means 3 rep max or a 5 reps max. A 1 rep max is great, but most people are not skilled enough to do a 1 RM safely.
10/2/14 Update:
There is more to this article..but I wanted to post it sooner. It will be updated at a later date after I give my talk.


5 Reasons to Sumo Deadlift Instead of ?

Why the SumoDeadlift

This is the first time sumo deadlifts actually felt right, much better than 7 months ago. Although the heaviest I lifted in this session was only 382lbs, it’s the first time I felt like I was using more of adductors and quads to break the weight off the ground vs my low back and glutes.

I’ve been dedicating 1 day a week to doing 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

1.) When you can’t squat heavy sumo deadlift

My squat sessions have been non existent because of my medial elbow pain. As a way to build and maintain my quad strength, front squats have been my replacement, but when you think about it, sumo deadlifts is a decent alternative to getting some heavy squat work in. Far from ideal, but it’s hell of a lot better than doing leg extensions and leg presses when your primary goal is to get good with the barbell.

2.) Work on deadlift muscles at a different angle

Another view of the sumo deadlifts is that it works as a great accessory exercise to conventional deadlifts and squats. Sumo deadlifts help strengthen your adductors but they also help promote a more “knees-out” position for squatting and conventional deadlifting. Of course in conventional deadlifts you don’t really push your knees out a ton, but you definitely use hip torque get those femurs to turn away from each other.

3.) Give your low back a break but still work improving your deadlift strength

If you’re a really good conventional deadlifter, sumo deadlifts is a great way to build your deadlift muscles without frying your lower back. One of the big advantages of a conventional deadlift is it allows you to get good acceleration with your low back and upper back muscles. Some people will disagree with this (probably richard hawthorn would), but when you’re back is sore or just not feeling up to snuff, pull sumo to still work on the posterior chain muscle group but with less dependency on the spinal erectors.

4.) Invest in something you might need down the road

I want to deadlift 700lbs at a bodyweight of 198lbs some time in my life. I may hit a plateau for a few years as Dan green did when he said he got stuck around 300kg (660lbs) doing conventional. So I figured why not invest some time now. I can’t really squat, so I’ll sumo deadlift instead.

5.) Sumo deadlift stance may be similar to your competition squat stance

As you can imagine, if you squat with a wide stance, there is much more carry-over from your squats to your deadlifts and your deadlifts to your squat because you’re training positions that are very similar to one another.

These are just my opinions and view points as of this moment. At anytime they could change as I learn and experience more things lifting this barbell. Do you agree or disagree? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Comment below on this post or on the related youtube channel.

Thanks for reading, remember to share this if you feel it will be useful to someone you know.



Strength vs Technique for Deadlifts

There’s training for technique and there’s training for strength. In the world of powerlifting, there is a lot of overlap and it’s pretty difficult to separate the two, but I will try to distinguish the two in this blog post. In a manner of speaking, technique is basically cheating. Not cheating in the LITERAL sense, but try to hang on while I try to explain. (the video below is this blog post in words, kinda)

Let’s talk about a domain where there are no competition rules like that of powerlifting.

Chopping the tree down with a butter knife would take a long time. An axe would be faster. A chain saw would be faster than that and a bulldozer would even faster. In a sense, you’re cheating your way to chopping the down the tree.

Chopping down the tree is very much like doing a heavy deadlift, squat or bench press. For the sake of discussion, we will focus on using an axe to deadlift. There is a specific way in which you can use the axe that will provide the most efficient movement pattern to get the deepest cut and strongest strike.

For the deadlift there is a specific pull position that allows for the most power and leverage.

When you’re trying to get the most out of something it is best to understand how you will approach the act.

Technique is all about trying to get the most out of your resources. Your specific leverages, strength and weaknesses are unique to me as they are to you. Understand these facts allow you to keep the bar path vertical and short.

This is optimum performance and optimum leverage a max lift.

Strength is the raw ability to move a lot of weight. In many people, a person’s strength will out weigh their technique

An example of this specific to me is my ability to power clean. With optimal technique using the hips I will have a very difficult time power cleaning 225lbs (102kg). However, if you allow me to use my deadlift strength from the ground, using more lower back and give me more time to accelerate, I can get one really ugly pull of that same weight. Eventually I will demonstrate this in a video.

Thanks for reading

strength vs technique photo blog post thumb

Deadlift Lockout Accessory Exercises

I will have a Video up soon about this article at

My view point on program design starts at the individual level.

What is this person missing?
Why do they move so bad?
What’s wrong with their form?
What’s weak in their body?

Why are they getting stuck here?
I seldom work with athletes.  Just regular everyday people that are trying to get in shape for themselves.  No “serious” strength goals like powerlifters.  I want to deadlift 600lbs, squat 500lbs and Bench 315lbs.  Most people I train usually have an injury or problem that prevents them from feeling healthy  and strong.  People want to be young and feel young.  When you’re in pain, it’s hard to feel that way.  So what I do is teach people how to move better a big part of moving better is being strong.  Building strength is the foundation for everything.
I’m of the opinion that most people can’t follow a long format program because they aren’t dedicated enough.

If you’re an exception to this rule, and are serious about following a plan, here is my hypothetical approach:
I’ll use one lift as an example: the deadlift

A goal to Deadlift 600lbs by December 2014
My current best is 545lbs
I best rep PR is 515×2, 445×6, 500×3

I’m having trouble during lockout.  I slow down and start grinding right at or just above the knee.
The next question I would ask is, what muscles are weak that’s preventing me from get a faster lockout.

Is there something in my form and technique I can improve an change?  I can always make improvement in form and technique to get better leverage and position, however this is something that has to be addressed during each training session.
From a programming perspective: what muscle do I need to strengthen to improve my lockout?

Rack Pulls
Block Pulls
Hip Thrust
Deadlift Stance Box squats

Holy crap! I forgot about Deadlift Stance box squats!  I haven’t done these for a while. This is probably why I’m not as strong as I was.
This is why I have trouble programming.  I think about what needs to be fixed and then I fix it.  Do that for several weeks and reap the benefits.  Obviously there is a better way, but I’m out of time so I’m ending this blog post. Thanks for reading.

Deadlift Lockout Strength, Squat weakness leaning to far forward | ideas for working on powerlifting

Your weakness could be all in your head.  The weakest link in your squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk is all in your head.

What’s weak in your bench press?  Maybe, probably triceps

What’s weak in your your squats? Maybe, probably your glutes, or your core.

What’s weak in your deadlift? Your low back or hamstrings.

What about your snatch or clean and jerk? Okay, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the olympic lifts, but much of what I talk about in this blurb will be about getting a global understanding of what you’re body is suppose to do optimally.  Much of what I’ve learned  about human movement comes from Kelly Starrett and the mobility wod as well as a combination of various high level strength athletes.  Combine youtube / podcast university with 10+ years coaching regular people as well being a “broken leopard” you’ve got unique perspective from an ungifted athlete coach.

One of the major “gems” of information that set me to write about this comes from what I heard on the Mark Bell’s Powercast with Max Aita.  About their discussion about Dmitry Klokov and how the russians train.  Here’s a link to the podcast, and it starts at the 44:50 mark.

Dan Green was mentioned about his coaching.  About how he doesn’t say much, but when he does, it makes so much sense. Simple stuff that hits you like a ton of bricks (paraphrasing what Max Aita said).

I went to Boss Barbell in Mountain View and had the opportunity to listen to his seminar (here are my notes).  But recalling back to his manner of speaking and coaching style its interesting how all the dots started to connect in my mind.  In a way, much of what he said in his seminar was about his overall view on program design for getting stronger and when he brought up the idea of your “technical max,” the idea connected with what Max Aita said in Mark bell’s Powercast.

So lets talk about technical max.  When does your technique begin to break down?  When do your squats, bench, deadlifts, power cleans, clean/jerk and snatches begin to falter?  Like when your squats start to look like good mornings or when your back begins to round  too much in the deadlift.

When your technique beings to break down, there is a weakness that expresses itself in your movement.

What is wrong with the way you’re moving?  When you make a movement error you are expressing a weakness.  Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you don’t make the lift or you’re incapable getting stronger without giving it direct attention, it just means you’re leaving some power/strength/leverage on the table by not clearing up the movement fault.

The movement fault is a bottleneck.  I learned this term from Gray Cook, it was such a big “ah-ha” moment for me when Kstar’s mobility wod and Cook talked about the idea on this video.

A movement is a pattern.  Performing a pattern like a bench press or squat has a specific loading pattern that will provide optimal positioning and leverage (this varies by individual).  This is technique.  Sorry if this sounds vague, but bare with me.

One of the things I’m trying to work on in myself is an asymmetrical weight shift.  I know this is one of major reasons in why I have knee pain in my left knee from time to time.  Although I’m right handed, left leg and glute/hip complex is significantly stronger than my right.  One way I know this is the case is that when I’m in the bottom of my squat for a pause with 80% or more of my 1RM, I can feel my left leg initiate the drive out of the hole.

What causes this?  I’m missing range of motion in my RIGHT SIDE: hip and ankle.  This is one of my bottlenecks that’s preventing me from getting stronger  in my squat safely.

So what’s weak?  Most likely and definitely my right glute.  But the real question is what do I work on?  Squatting without shifting is what really comes to mind.

What you lack in technique you can make up in strength (to a certain degree).

End of post. thanks for reading.

How to increase Deadlift Lockout strength

I want to deadlift 600lbs by the end of the year, my best right now is 545.5lbs (247.5kg)  in competition at a bodyweight of ~194lbs.  For my next competition on june 7th, my goal is to achieve a 565lbs deadlift in  a lower weight class.  I plan on competing at 82.5kg or 181.5lbs.

My thought process of improving deadlift lockout strength has always caused me to rely on  doing rack pulls and block pulls to work on weak points in my deadlift.

Where does my deadlift slow down?  For me it’s after It gets past my knees.  All weights between 475+ I’m grinding through that range.  I an confidently lockout 500-515lbs on any given day, but they are grinders.

I keep thinking that in order for me to build strength I need to work on my weak points more aggressively.  In other words, more rack pulls, pin pulls and block pulls. Overloading with a shorter range of motion. However, one of my greatest strengths of my deadlift is being able to accelerate the weight through that sticking point.  I find it easier to pull 455lbs off the ground vs pull it from 4 or 6 inch blocks.

In the video above I talk ramble on more.  But in case you want more reading this article from elite fts and jts strength are good articles discussing improving deadlift lockout strength.

How to teach the Deadlift | Coaching for Personal Trainers to Teach Barbell training

The best way I learn things is by teach it and doing it.  So I made this video to help you teach the deadlift, so you can deadlift better.

(be sure to subscribe to my channel to see upcoming deadlift tutorials. )

Deadlift and bent over row have always been the most difficult exercises to teach someone.  This is because most people lack motor control in the hips, hamstring and low back.

“Keep a curve in your back.”

“Arch your back. ”

I think most people are really afraid of the deadlift because people get paranoid about hurting their back.  I use have to low back problems and suffered from sciatica on off – so when I first started deadlifting I was tentative and conservative.

To make a long story short, I can now pull 500lbs with confidence off the ground.

Since building the strength to do that, I now seldom suffer from any back problems or even back tightness.  I still get hip tightness, but low back problems are now non-existent since I built the strength to deadlift 500 pounds.  I even did my  powerlifting meet.

I’ve come to the conclusion that reason why I had so back problems was because I was weak.

Me, personal trainer of 10+ years was weak.

Looking back in hindsight, I was inflexible and weak.

Now I’m more flexible and strong.


Deadlift Tips Reviewing my seminar notes with Dan Green at Boss Barbell

dan green 800 pounds photo

My question: How do you deal with the bar whipping against you? How do you suggest I practice dealing with this. When I pull near  or around 500 pounds on the deadlift the bar will whip against me pulling me out of position.

This is the question I asked Dan green.  It was a really important question to me.

Much of this question came from an error I made in my deadlift when I was reviewing some video of myself. I made an analysis video of my hips shooting up too quickly during the a PR deadlift of 515lbs.

Dan Green said to test the bar by pulling the hips back a little before pulling.

When he said that, it reminded me of a video of him deadlifting 815lbs at supertraining gym in sac.

It turns out that first pull had a functional purpose.  After Dan Green shared this deadlifting tip with me I never watched a heavy deadlift the same again.

I saw doing this “test pull” of the deadlift.  In a recent video posted on Eric Lilliebridge’s youtube channel you can see him test the flex of the bar a lot before the deadlift.

And as I write this blog post, I’m watching it, and what I’m noticing is he not only tests it, he also times in such a way so he can explode with just the right timing.  The video below is of Ernie and Eric Deadlifting.

In practice it’s really hard to do.  My first powerlifting meet is less than 3 weeks away and I can’t get this down in such a short period of time.  I did try practicing it. However, to pull the slack out of the bar without lifting it not only feels completely different, it’s more exhausting than you would think.  I would have to spend a lot of time rebuilding my deadlift to get this down.

This video show me trying to test the flex in the bar and as you can see my timing is really bad and I just feel too uncomfortable. One thing you might appreciate is the quality is fairly good and I have some good slow motion video at 120fps using my iphone 5S.

Most of what I learned at Boss Barbell with Dan green has more to do with the Sumo Deadlift.  I haven’t pulled sumo very much, but there are some distinct advantages for some of my leverages.

What makes the Sumo Stance Deadlift is that it’s complete opposite to what you would do in a Conventional Deadlift.

With pulling sumo,he said you want to lock out as soon as possible after breaking the ground.  Then use your hips to finish the lock out.

Locking out too quickly on a conventional deadlift will result in the hips shooting up too fast, and you don’t want that.  I have more stuff I want to share on the deadlift, but I’m out of time.  Thanks for reading.