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Improve Your Deadlifts

Nurse Susan provides five tips to help you improve your Deadlifts.

Second to squats, deadlifts are probably the most popular compound exercise you can do. Because they are a compound movement, deadlifts work multiple muscle groups at once. This means they help you increase your overall calorie burn. The technique used in a deadlift also transfers directly over to real life. In order to reap all the benefits of deadlifts, though, you need to make sure you are making the most out of them. Listed below are five tips that will help you improve your deadlifts and increase your results.

Use Good Form

First, good form is essential. Taking the time to learn proper technique will not only help you avoid injury, but it will also help you increase the amount of weight you can pull, which will lead to better results in a shorter period of time. If you are new to deadlifting, start with a light barbell. Do not be embarrassed about not being able to lift heavy yet. You will look sillier lifting with bad form than you will lifting lighter weights.

Keep these cues in mind while you are deadlifting to make sure your form is on point:

  • Keep your back in a neutral position -- do not round or arch it
  • Keep your arms straight so you do not compensate with your biceps
  • Engage your abs and lats to prevent your lower back from rounding
  • Keep the bar close to your body -- if it moves away, you will put more stress on your low back. This also limits the amount of weight you can pull.

Use Your Glutes and Quads

Most people think of deadlifts as purely a hamstring exercise. While they do work the hamstring, you also need to make sure you are engaging your glutes and quads as well.

How do you engage your quads? When you start to pull the weight off of the floor, drive your feet into the ground. This activates the quads and helps you stay tight during your lift.

As for the glutes, they play a big part in helping you pull more weight. This makes sense if you stop and think about it. After all, the gluteus maximus is the body's largest muscle. Use your glutes in your deadlift by squeezing them when you push your hips forward near the lockout at the top of your pull. This will give you more power and make the lockout easier.

Change Up Your Stance

There are many more ways to do deadlifts than just the conventional stance. By changing up your stance every few weeks, you can strengthen different muscle groups and continue to challenge yourself.

Some other deadlift stances you can try out include:

  • Sumo deadlift: Feet are separated wider than hip-width and your hands stay inside your feet. This variation takes pressure off the lower back, lets the hips, hamstrings, and quads work more.
  • Single-leg deadlifts: By balancing on one leg at a time, you can correct any muscle imbalances you may have in your glutes.
  • Hack deadlifts: In this variation, the bar is placed behind the back to put more of a focus on the quads. This should only be done by experienced lifters.
  • Romanian deadlifts: This is a variation of conventional deadlift in which you sit your hips back and lower the bar toward the floor. Many people's hamstrings do not let them touch the bar all the way to the ground, but this exercise allows them to work on their flexibility and range of motion.

Work on Your Grip Strength

Improving your grip strength will significantly improve your deadlift performance. It will help you increase the amount of weight you can pull without engaging your biceps. You will also be able to pull the bar up faster since you will not be worried about it slipping out of your hands.

Improving your grip strength will also improve every other exercise you do in the gym - at least those that involve holding a barbell or dumbbells. Think about it: if you can squeeze the bar harder while doing a bench press, you will also be able to activate the muscles in the arms and chest better. This will increase the amount of force you can exert, which will lead to heavier lifts.

To improve your grip strength, you can use a special tool like an adjustable hand grip strengthener. These tools are great because you can use them at home or on the go to train your grip strength even when you are out of the gym.

When you are training, you can also incorporate these tips to work on your grip at the same time.

  • Do not use chalk - this will force you to grip the bar harder
  • Do static holds - stand in place and hold the bar at the top of the deadlift position. Do this as a finisher at the end of your workout
  • Do one-handed lifts with a light barbell
  • Do single and double-handed hangs from a pull-up bar

Warm Up Properly

A proper warm-up will help you avoid injury while also improving your overall performance. Start with 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise like walking or light jogging. The goal is just to increase your body temperature.

Then, move on to dynamic stretching and some bodyweight exercises like squats and bird dogs to prime the muscles. Static stretching before lifting is not recommended - in fact, it can actually lead to an injury since you will not be familiar with the new range of motion you have established.

Once you have finished stretching, you do plyometric exercises like box jumps to activate the central nervous system and continue priming the muscles. Do not do a ton of reps - remember, this is still a warm-up. Three sets of 3-5 reps will work. Finally, you are ready to move on to your actual lifts.

Start with an empty barbell or very light weight, then slowly increase the weight from there to really warm your body up and maintain good form.

Keep these tips in mind and you will be a deadlifting master before you know it!

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:

  • SUSAN, N. (2018) Improve Your Deadlifts [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Nurse Susan has  always been passionate about helping people heal. After she retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, that passion did not go away. She loves to use her expertise to write about the best ways to keep you and your family healthy, active, and happy.

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