More Thoughts on Deadlift Slack

Brilliant Friends,
Thanks for the feedback on these posts.
Part of the fun about powerlifting is that there is room for variation, and you can find numerous hacks that really increase your performance immediately.
A good friend asked about one of my descriptive phrases for the deadlift starting position. “Zero room to move around in any direction” is a bit vague, so let me clarify.
Lets start with positioning over the bar:
  1. Middle of the feet under the bar
  2. Feet less than shoulder width apart
  3. Flex your butt, spread the floor with your feet, pillar torso, shoulder blades back and down
  4. Bend at the hips and knees, reaching down with straight arms to grab the bar with first one hand, then the other.
  5. Check that your shoulder blades are directly above the bar. Tape video of yourself to make sure, or ask a buddy.
  6. Pull up on the bar, as if your shoulder blades are doing the pulling. Tighten your whole body.
  7. Bend at the knees until your shins touch the bar. You should be fully tensed, with no slack anywhere.
    1. Arms are straight and pulling on the bar.
    2. Back is straight
    3. Butt and hamstrings are taut
    4. Feet are spreading the floor
    5. Head is neutral, eyes looking at the floor in front
In this starting position, you should be almost lifting the bar off the ground. You should not be able to twist and turn, or move side to side at all. Everything should be flexed and fully tensed. At the twitch of a muscle you should be able to start taking that weight off the ground, without any additional movement.
Once you start to pull the weight up, no part of your body should move up before the bar does.
Tape yourself and check to make sure your butt does not lift up without the bar going up at the same time. Imagine that you are leading with your shoulder blades.
Watch my most recent deadlift session. Compare the points above with my pulls.
  • Opportunity: on sets four and five, my butt starts going up first before the bar. I didn’t tighten up enough before pulling.
  • I establish starting stance before bending to grab the bar
  • I am pretty much pulling on the bar before it even goes up, and this helps me to organize a tight starting position with zero slack.
  • Using the alternating hang grip for my heaviest set. Bar is lower in my hands and fingers, rather than the palms.
  • Working on my grip strength every deadlift session. Previous sets on this session were done with overhand, chalk, then alternating grip. On the last set, I hold for a good 12-count before letting the bar down.
  • Breathing: I take a breath in at the top of each pull, so that by the time I get down to the starting position again I have a pillar torso ready to go. This is much easier than if you breathe in at the bottom, in a bent position.
Watch other deadlifts. Do they have a solid set up, and just as they pull up on the bar from the starting position, is there any excessive movement?
Next step: Tape yourself deadlifting and critique. Think about how you can improve next time and do it. Focus on zero extra movement, zero slack, and developing the most effective deadlift possible.
To powerful living,
Steve

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