3 Best Practices For Better Deadlifts

by tffitness on October 4, 2016

fullsizerenderHi, my name is Charles and I like to deadlift.

No, I’m not really in a support group, but I do admit my addiction to pulling heavy weights off the floor. And I’m pretty good at it I guess — I pull a bit over 5 wheels consistently as I near my 57th birthday, and I weigh less than 200 pounds.

So as you might imagine, I’ve put a lot of thought into the deadlift, and so for todays post, I thought I’d share 3 of my more impactful discoveries about what I consider to be the true king of lifts. Let’s dig in…

1) Identify Your Objective

This falls into the category of “that’s so obvious, I didn’t event think of it!”

OK, maybe you just like the primal satisfaction of lifting a heavy barbell, or maybe you’ve got some ego-investment in how much you can pull (hell, I sure do). But those motivations are a given — it’s important to acknowledge them of course, because these are the things that keep us coming back to the gym week after week. With that said however, it’s also worth examining the potential of the deadlift to make us bigger, stronger, leaner, faster, and/or more injury-resistant. Once you’re very clear about the outcomes you expect from doing the exercise, you can become much more dialed in about how you should perform this exercise in the first place.

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

• If your primary expectation from doing deadlifts is muscular growth, larger ROM variants (deficit deadlifts or snatch-grip pulls for example) should be prioritized over shorter ROM pulls (such as sumo or block pulls). Also, lowering the bar with a controlled (3-4 second) negative is likely more stimulatory for muscle growth (as opposed to basically just dropping the bar after completing the lift, as powerlifters typically do). When you’re training for muscle, progressive overload still matters, but emphasize “feel” with longer ROM’s and slower, more deliberate tempos.

• If strength is a bigger concern, any type of pull may be used (except that competitive powerlifters should of course prioritize their competition-style deadlift and close approximations of it) — the primary concern will be optimizing your loading parameters (sets of 3-5 are probably best) and placing a big emphasis on load, bar speed, and enforced progressive overload.

• If your goals are tied in to both hypertrophy and strength (that’s most of us, right?) alternate between cycles where you focus on muscle building for perhaps 4-6 weeks, followed by a 4-6 week period where you prioritize strength development. In the first phase of training, you’re building a bigger engine, and in the second phase, you’re teaching that bigger engine to fire with perfect synchronization and maximum horsepower.

2) Master The Hip Pump

I’ve heard it stated that the deadlift got it’s name due to the fact that you start the lift from a dead stop. Not sure if that’s true or not, but what IS true is that starting a lift concentrically presents some unique challenges compared to lifts that start eccentrically (think of the squat or bench for instance).

First and foremost among these challenges is the distinct lack of the “stretch-shortening cycle” (SSC). In less-scientific jargon, the SSC is the phenomenon where a muscle is able to contract with more force if it is briefly stretched immediately beforehand — think of how you’d cock your arm back immediately prior to throwing a ball, and how much distance you’d lose if you had to hold your arm back there for say, 5 seconds, before you threw it.

There is a way to cheat the system so to speak, and many lifters do it instinctively (especially in the sport of weightlifting), and it’s by using a maneuver often called the hip pump. Here’s a slow motion video of US weightlifter Mattie Rogers clean and jerking 242 pounds at a bodyweight of less than 140 — watch what she does with her hips immediately before cleaning the bar to her shoulders:


What I hope you noticed was how Mattie first raised her hips, and the lowered them again immediately before the pull. By raising her hips higher than the optimal start position, she’s in effect creating an artificial eccentric phase (and stretch) prior to liftoff. This brief stretch really helps to generate more force on the deadlift too, and if you’re not already using this maneuver, I suggest that you start exploring it. Just lower your hips as you’d usually do, and then when you’re ready, simply raise them very briefly, then lower them back down to their original position, and launch your pull. If you’re like most people, it won’t take long before you’ll be convinced.

3) Think Of The Pull As A Push

Even though the word “pull” is synonymous for the deadlift, I really think it’s much more helpful to think of the deadlift as a push. Adopting this internal cue goes a long way toward fixing two common errors — flexing (rounding) the lumbar spine, and not using sufficient leg drive.

Here’s how I visit online casino jolietta visualize this when I’m deadlifting. I’ll take my stance (feet close, shoelaces right under the bar), grab the bar (arms parallel to each other, and hook grip), lower my hips, do a quick pump, and RIGHT before I initiate the pull, I try to brace my entire torso so hard that the bracing maneuver will require more energy than the lift itself. I generate a HUGE amount of intra-abdominal pressure (in fact, I’ve broken several velcro-style lifting belts over the years doing this), and just “lock down” my entire torso — in effect, I’m trying to “fuse” my spine into a single functional unit, to it won’t move AT ALL during the lift. Once I’m braced like this, I think of “leg pressing” the floor away from me until I’ve reached a fully-erect standing position.

Put another way, my objective is to move only from my hips and knees, and not from the spine. So again the cue is “lock it down … leg press the floor away.”

As I suggested earlier, this cue will help you to maintain a neutral lumbar spine (which keeps you safe) and also helps to reinforce leg drive (many lifers, myself included, and a bit too “hip dominant” when they deadlift).

Don’t Just Sit There!

Most of us already know enough — we simply fail to apply what we know. Now that I’ve shared these 3 insights, I really hope you’ll implement them into your own deadlift sessions. And when you do, please come back here and share your experiences with me in the comments section below.

The “BIG 3” Clinic with Coach Charles Staley!

Just a quick note to let you know I’ll be teaching the finer points of the squat, bench, and deadlift on November 6th in gorgeous Tucson Arizona — hope to see some of your there, we’re going to have a blast! Here’s more info:









This Week’s Training


• Safety Squat: 225×5

• Deadlift 410×6

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bodyweight: 195.2 Pounds

Goblet Squat

Set 1: 35 lb × 10

Set 2: 40 lb × 10

Set 3: 53 lb × 10

Safety Squat

Set 1: 65 lb × 10

Set 2: 115 lb × 8

Set 3: 155 lb × 6

Set 4: 205 lb × 8 (Video Below)

Set 5: 225 lb × 5

Set 6: 175 lb × 8

2.5″ Deficit Pull

Set 1: 135 lb × 5

Set 2: 185 lb × 5

Set 3: 225 lb × 5

Set 4: 275 lb × 5

Set 5: 315 lb × 3

45° Back Extension

Set 1: BW (+140 lb) × 10

Set 2: BW (+140 lb) × 10

Set 3: BW (+140 lb) × 10

Standing Calf Raise

Set 1: 180 lb × 10

Set 2: 180 lb × 10

Set 3: 180 lb × 10

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bodyweight: 195.8 Pounds

Rusin Shoulder Warm Up

Set 1: 1 lb × 10

Set 2: 1 lb × 10

Bench Press

Set 1: 45 lb × 10

Set 2: 95 lb × 8

Set 3: 135 lb × 6

Set 4: 185 lb × 4

Set 5: 205 lb × 4

Set 6: 205 lb × 4

Set 7: 205 lb × 4

Set 8: 205 lb × 4 (Video Below)

Set 9: 225 lb × 1

Set 10: 185 lb × 5

Close Grip Lat Pulldown

Set 1: 140 lb × 10

Set 2: 140 lb × 10

Set 3: 140 lb × 10

EZ Bar Curl

Set 1: 45 lb × 10

Set 2: 65 lb × 10

Set 3: 65 lb × 10

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Set 1: 60 lb × 10

Set 2: 70 lb × 10

Set 3: 70 lb × 10

Friday, September 30, 2016

Bodyweight: 196.6 Pounds


Set 1: 135 lb × 5

Set 2: 185 lb × 5

Set 3: 225 lb × 5

Set 4: 275 lb × 5

Set 5: 315 lb × 5

Set 6: 365 lb × 1

Set 7: 410 lb × 6

Rusin Shoulder Warm Up

Set 1: 1 lb × 10

Set 2: 1 lb × 10

Set 3: 1 lb × 10

Military Press

Set 1: 45 lb × 10

Set 2: 65 lb × 10

Set 3: 85 lb × 10

Set 4: 85 lb × 10

Set 5: 85 lb × 10

Set 6: 85 lb × 10

Chin Up

Set 1: 1 rep

Set 2: 2 reps

Set 3: 3 reps

Set 4: 4 reps

Set 5: 5 reps

Set 6: 10 reps

Tricep Pushdowns

Set 1: 140 lb × 10

Set 2: 140 lb × 10

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

Set 1: 60 lb × 10

Set 2: 60 lb × 10

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bodyweight: 196.2 Pounds


Set 1: 1.58 mi | 20 min


Dual Cable Low Cable Curl

Set 1: 100 lb × 10

Set 2: 100 lb × 10

Leave a Comment

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Hi Charles, kindly, Inform me, the foot placement under the bar at the Snatch Grip Deadlift Is it the same at the Conventional DaedLift( shoelaces right under the bar) . Thank you and regards.



Samy, because the snatch grip pull requires more knee flexion at the start, you may find it better to stand SLIGHTLY further away from the bar as compared to a conventional pull






Hey Charles. I credit you with getting me started deadlifting a long time ago. Though I used to pick your brain on the phone years back, the last and only time I saw you in person, I was about 40. Now I am 53 and trying to hit 500 on my deadlift. I have not been using the hip pump, so I am going to try to implement that. Thanks for the tip! Do you have any older guy tips or protocols to help me reach that goal. Thanks!



Hey Greg, so great to hear that! So as far as specific tips, it would depend on your individual history, anatomy, etc., etc — maybe consider online coaching with me? Drop me a message if you’re interested: Charles@StaleyStrategies.com


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