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Deadlift Training

By Jim Smith, CSCS, Men's Fitness Magazine Columnist & Contributing Writer
Author of Accelerated Muscular Development System

So how can you build and execute a proper deadlift? What sort of training techniques can help you? What about the things you shouldn't do? Lastly, how often should you do deadlifts?

I'm relatively young in years, but I am "old school" when it comes to deadlift training. I'm a strong believer that deadlifts need to be done at least 1 time per week if you want to progress with the weight you add to the deadlift.

However, I'm also a believer in using certain variations on the deadlift and assistance exercises to make the deadlift bigger!

deadlift training,

Deadlift Training - Assistance Exercises

The first assistance exercise for the deadlift is the barbell good morning exercise.

There's nothing better for strengthening your lower back so you can be ready for big deadlift pulls. The good morning (bow) exercise can be risky if you are not careful enough. Therefore, if you're a beginner you should start with a light weight on the bar or even with an empty bar. Later you can add about 5-pounds a week.

Here's how you do good mornings. You start with the bar behind your neck on your back just like if you're doing a barbell squat. Your feet are apart the same width as when squatting. Keep your back tight and push your butt back as you lower the bar. It will look like you are bowing to someone.

You should bend down to about waist level and make sure to keep your back tight throughout the whole exercise. No rounding or arching of your back! Your weight should be resting on your heals and your butt needs to be back. If you do the exercise properly you will feel stress in your lower back as well as your hamstrings. To return back to the start (standing) position you need to flex your back and hamstrings.

The next assistance exercise for deadlift training targets your hips and it is the sumo pull. To have a strong deadlift you also need to strengthen your hips as much as possible. As your hips get stronger, both your sumo and conventional pull will get better and increase.

The way to perform this pull correctly is to concentrate on pushing your feet into the platform/floor as if you are trying to "spread" the floor.

Another exercise that's really good for strengthening the hips and is great for deadlift training is the barbell box squat. To do this exercise you need to use a wide stance and squat down until you touch the box (the box is just below parallel level) with your butt and upper hamstrings. You lower yourself slowly to the box without bouncing or slamming onto it! When you finally get on top of the box, relax the hips and then flex them hard to get off the box and lockout. Spread the floor with your feet during the movement!

Deadlift Training - Pulling Exercises

Along with the assistance exercises for deadlift training, you should also pull at least 1 time per week. This will normally be a changing process. Sometimes you may do regular pulls from the ground, sometimes you will do a rack pull and sometimes you'll do a special lift using bands or chains.

One movement that is really effective is the rack pull. To do the rack pull you adjust the bar in the rack cage at your sticking point. For me, this point is about 14 inches off the ground. I usually slow down at this point and my deadlift grinds to a halt. Thus, you will need to experiment to find your own sticking point. Everything else in your form will stay identical as when you're pulling off the ground.

Another great exercise in building deadlift speed is the band deadlift. It's easy to set up. All you have to do is loop a couple of Jumpstretch© bands over the bar (see photo).

deadlift training,

When you set the bands up, simply pull like you normally would. Use good form and pull with some speed. If you don’t pull with speed it will be hard to make it to the lockout point. Do as many as 3 to 10 ten sets.

If you have chains, you can use them also. Just drape them over the bar and lift. The more chains you have over the bar, the more weight there will be at lockout!

Yet another way to load the top for a heavier lockout is to use dumbbells. But beware because dumbbells are more intense then chains or bands because the weight increase is not as gradual - it's instant. To set up dumbbells over the ends of the bar you will need to chain them at each end of the bar. Make sure you measure the length of the chains on both ends so you have the dumbbells lifting off the ground (as you lift) right at your sticking point.

You may be thinking how I talk a lot about lockout strength and you may be asking yourself right about now how can you strengthen the bottom of the lift?

Well, nothing is better for this then the deadlift off a box. To do this exercise you need to stand on a box that allows the bar to almost touch the top of your feet. Your form will be the same as if pulling a regular deadlift, only now you will need to get your hips much deeper to start the pull. Everything else is completely the same! You will notice that with this lift you will have to use less weight.

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deadlift training,

About the Author

Jim Smith is a men's fitness expert and performance enhancement specialist. He writes for Men's Health Magazine on a regular basis and is the author of the highly popular Accelerated Muscular Development System.

His AMD system is NOT your typical training system. AMD is a complete muscle building system that provides a step-by-step template for you to MAKE INCREDIBLE GAINS.

His program also includes a core strengthening program -Combat Core, Deadlift Training and a posture improvement and back pain relief program -Accelerated Corrective Strategies.

Visit to find out more!

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