5 Tips for a Powerful Deadlift

James Plumb
Need a bigger stronger Deadlift?

We asked 5 sponsored Loaded athletes for their top tips to bolster a lifter's deadlifts. Each with their own unique setup and style, the below information is guaranteed to assist you in your deadlift.

Billa Hamilton (QLD) - Powerlifter

PB Deadlift: 202.5kg @ 67.5kg bw

1) Positive thought process - for me this has been one of my biggest challenges. Working on overcoming any negative thought associated with the weight on the bar.

2) Foot positioning - making sure it's spot on every time and thinking about driving my heels into the ground while pushing my knees out.

3) Hand setup - left hand over, right hand under. Aiming for my reverse grip to be slightly further out, allowing for a better lock-in position through the lats.

4) Engaging the bar and locking my shoulders down. This is also where I'll push all air out, tightening through the abdominal.

5) Inhale half belly breath - once all air is pushed out, the bar engaged and shoulders are locked down I'll take a half belly breath, rock back into my heels and think of my glutes while thrusting hips forward. My belt set up for deads is lower than my belt positioning for squats and also not as tight, so that I can take that belly breath easier.

PAD-UP!!! This is really my number 1!!! 

Critta Stamatiou (QLD) - Powerlifter
PB Deadlift: 300kg @ 74kg bw

1) Feet shoulder width apart (some individuals a little less) 
Squat to the bar 

2) Shoulders in line or slightly behind the bar 

3) Grip the bar with arms just on the outside of legs 

4) Turn lats on by squeezing scaps back and down - put your shoulder blades in your back pocket

5) Take a big breath into your belt and turn your core on 

6) Pull the bar by pushing through the floor. Do not bend your arms throughout the range of movement 

7) At the end of the movement squeeze your glutes and push your hips through (forward) do not exaggerate back extension

Darwin Suteerawanit (WA) - Powerlifter
PB Deadlift: 320kg @90kg bw

1) Do not initiate the deadlift with your hips too low. The deadlift isn’t a squat. If your hips shoot up a significant distance before the bar even breaks the floor, chances are that you’re starting with too low of a hip position (among other weaknesses).

2) Some people cue the deadlift execution as a pull, and some as a push before a pull. The only deadlift execution cue I give myself, and one that most beginners seem to follow well, is to simultaneously throw my chest to the ceiling and my hips to the wall in front of me.

3) Initiate the deadlift as violently as possible without losing form.

4) You do not need to retract your scapula during a deadlift. Deadlifting with scapular retraction increases the distance that the bar needs to travel as your hands won’t hang as low.

5) Unless you are a hook-grip deadlifter, always deadlift without straps. There’s no such thing as having too much grip strength.Anchor

Amy Hapgood (WA)
PB Deadlift: 202.5kg @ 75kg bw

1) Always setup like its a PB attempt. Use the same routine both mental and physical. Doing this during your warmups primes you for the heavy stuff that matters!

2) Practice using the equipment you intend to use for competition. That means the right shoes, deadlift socks, belt and even a soft suit if you have a federated competition coming up.

3) Push the floor away from you, don't try and 'lever' with your back. The deadlift is a technical lift and should be executed in the most biomechanically efficient manner.

4) Build a f*cken strong back. This means lot's of lats and rhomboids. They hold the bar in place while your legs push. Having strong developed muscles in these areas also goes a long way to prevent injury.

5) Mobilise your pecs - tight pecs roll your upper body foward preventing you being able to lock in and stabilise with your muscles mentioned in tip number 4.

Darren Lang (NSW) - Strongman
PB Deadlift: 300kg @ 90kg bw

1) I personally think the most important aspect of a successful deadlift is the lifter's mental attitude! I know this sounds very emotional but I honestly think that too many lifters dont approach the bar in the right mind set. To hit a decent deadlift you have to be prepared to fight & grind it out! It really is a total body exercise that requires your whole body to work together to achieve success & I have seen too many lifters give up on the lift way too soon instead of really digging in & grinding it out. The deadlift is a very hard & difficult exercise from start to finish & you MUST be prepared to keep pushing when the going gets tough - but this is just my opinion (from a strongman point of view!)

2) Work on your hip thrust!!! I believe that if you get the bar above your knees 9 times out of 10 you should get a successful lift! Once the bar is above knee height all you have to do is pull your shoulders back & thrust your hips through. A strong hip thrust will lock out your lift so work on those glutes & pushing the hips through with force!

3) Keep your chest & back up e.g. look toward the heavens!!! Most people know this one but it must still be said as it's one of the most important things for a successful deadlift! 

4) Find your ideal foot & hand placement. Try a few different widths & variations & see what works for you! Everyone's body is made differently so find what is most comfortable & efficient for you & stick with it! 

5) Make sure you take the slack out of the bar & make sure every single muscle in your body is tense & tight before you lift! Tighten your upper & lower back muscles, activate your core, hammies & glutes, pull your shoulders back & take the slack out of the bar before you power that bar off the floor. 


Remember - when implementing advice on technique, every individual has a unique set of biomechanics and what will work for some won't work for all.

As the great Ed Coan has said: "If it works for you, you do that!"...

Happy Deadlifting.

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