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Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:39 pm
by Bacchus1979
Hey All -

been a while since I have been on, ope everyone is doing well. I took a couple videos of myself deadlifting, and I would love to get some feedback on my form. I had been noticing that my form was breaking down a little once I hit the high 200s/low 300s. Looking at the video, it looks like the first rep, in both cases, is the worst, with the hips coming up too fast, and my back rounding a little on the heavier weight.

I have an idea about what I am doing wrong, and I think the source of the problem is in the set up, and I need to lean back so my chins are still touching the bar but my shoulders start a little further back, but I would love to hear thoughts from anyone here who thinks there may be other solutions. Also, apologies for the long set up on the second video, I didn't have someone to help me that time, so i had to set up the camera, then set up the lift, the lift starts about 35 seond in on that one.


Thanks folks!


Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:29 pm
by Oscar_Actuary
- why straps ?
- are you geting a bit of bounce off the floor (not Dead stop) ?
- Form looks really good to me on later reps, as you noted.
- I'm not as familar with Sumo style
- I'm more enthusiast than expert, so take that
- I'm glad to see you mean "shins" not "chins"
- Your set up, chest high and leading with head, would please some folks

wish I could help more Im intersted in other critques

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:34 pm
by Bacchus1979
Hey Oscar -

Thanks for the comments/questions - ill respons one at a time

- I recently started using straps on my final heavy set (but only the final one, got to get at least some grip benefit). Just don't like a mixed grip, a personal peculiarity I suppose, so use straps if I am going for more than a couple reps on a final heavy set.
- Thanks- actually its the fact that my form improves which makes me think the problem is in the set -up
-Yeah, if my Chin were touching the bar I would have much bigger problems :)
- Thanks - I get so focused on trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, thats its good to be reminded what I am doing right!

EDIT - sorry forgot to answer your question on the bounce, i try to lower it slow so I am not getting momentum on the bounce, but I may be getting a tiny bit

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:09 pm
by Jungledoc
The thing I notice most is that your hips go up before your shoulders do. On most of these your set-up looks really good to me, though I can't see the bar behind the plates. Then your hips shoot up before the bar even moves. Try thinking in terms of driving your hips forward. See ... just-right for a slightly different take on some of the common technique cues for DL.

I just had posted some vid of my DL, and I am quite surprised to realize how high my hips are when I initiate the lift. Your set-up looks much better, but you actually move your hips up to be a lot like mine before you actually start moving the bar.

I also second what Oscar said about the weight not going dead between reps. That is what the "dead" in "deadlift" means, after all!

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:25 pm
by Oscar_Actuary
Jungledoc wrote:The thing I notice most is that your hips go up before your shoulders do. On most of these your set-up looks really good to me, though I can't see the bar behind the plates. Then your hips shoot up before the bar even moves. Try thinking in terms of driving your hips forward.
You know what it is.

You are dropping yor hips right before the first pull, then, your hips come up and the slack comes out of the bar, then the bar comes up. On subsequent reps, you never drop back down and therefore have a smoother one move lift. At least it seems that way.

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:28 pm
by Jungledoc
I'm starting that "take the slack out of the bar" may not be a good cue for everyone (i.e., me).

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:09 am
by Bacchus1979
Thanks Doc & Oscar for your comments-

I notice that the effect is more pronounced on the heavier weight, like I start to drive, then the weight keeps my hands down and my hips go up. I think leaning back slightly so there's a little less slack, and a better connection for the hip drive to tha bar will fix it. I don't know if that explanation makes any sense, I think I am just having trouble describing it. I remember, at least on conventional deads when I used to do them, I would cue the start of the lift by leaning back then driving my heels down, and I think that's what's missing here and its whats causing my hips to come up. Don't know if that makes sense, but I'll give it a try next DL day, will post a video then & see ifit helps!

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:18 am
by Bacchus1979
Re-reading Oscar's comment - I think we're basically saying the same thing - because leaning back takes the slack out before the lift starts. I think of it as leaning back because of some video I saw on deadlifting at some point, a long time ago, wish I could remember which one so i could watch it again!

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:12 pm
by Jungledoc
I think "leaning back slightly" and "driving the heels down" could both lead you away from efficient form. Read that article that I linked.

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:49 am
by KPj
Form cues definitely aren't universal, it's more about applying them to the right lifter and situation.

Taking the slack out the bar stops people jerking the bar, which with heavier weights is never a good thing. By taking the slack out of the bar you physically cannot jerk it. Normally people who jerk the bar start off with a loose set up and quite often have a slight bend in the arms, too. If you have a tight enough set up you can't jerk the bar. This happens more on your first video. In an ideal world you should be able to explode at the start, but not jerk the bar. I can't see how this is possible without pulling the slack out of it first.

Also, "leaning back slightly" is great if you start off with your weight forward or pull the bar with your weight on your toes. In fact in this case i'm not sure any other cue would resolve it. Some people, and beginners especially, drive with the middle/balls of their feet when they first attempt to dead lift. You'll even see the heels LIFT on some occasions. In this case I wouldn't say lean back slightly, i say lean back hard, and will often get them to remove their shoes, too (almost always happens with beginners who constantly wear shoes with a big heel lift). I use this cue regularly with great success. Quite often this, and taking the slack out of the bar, as well as getting a better arch, are all one in the same - they don't arch so they're not tight then jerk the bar and weight shifts forward. You can then pull on the bar to get tight, get a better arch, and lean back on your heels. A lot of beginners don't know what it means to dig the heels in or get their weight on their heels, in which case you then have to ask them to "lean" (because "weight on heels" means nothing).

I genuinely don't understand how you can achieve maximum tightness without pulling on the bar. I did read the article (and enjoyed it) and note that in the set up steps you grab the bar, thereafter you "bring your chest up and shoulders back".... Is this not "pulling the slack out of the bar" ?

And if you have someone who gets pretty much everything else right but, when getting to a challenging weight shoots the hips up and pretty much does a Good morning with the bar in the hands, then "pushing the ground away" will almost always create more drive from the legs and get the hips and shoulders moving together as they should (if the set up is right, it will not make them squat the weight up).

Anyway, one of the biggest issues I see with your lift is the arch, or lack thereof. You have a much better lower back position in the first video. It does seem like you purposely attempt to "arch" but, actually just move your hips down instead, which is quite common. I think Rip (or it may have been Dan John) wrote an article recently on this specifically. It can be a case of just not really knowing how to arch your lower back hard, in which case I suggest things like RDL's to teach it. It may also be a flexibility thing, in which case, elevating the bar would improve lower back position whilst you get more mobile, and it may also be a technique thing.

I think it could be technique just based on the video with lighter weights but, it's hard to tell.

If you jerk the bar and don't arch hard enough then i'm afraid my advice is to use the bar to pull your chest up and arch your back harder (which will also take the slack out of the bar).

Also, noting that you're doing Sumo style, which i'm actually a big fan of - Can't tell if you're doing it but the one main difference in technique with Sumo's is to spread the floor apart/push the knees out. Do this hard, right from the start. This will emphasise the hips/glutes and possibly stop a lot of what you have noted yourself that's going on (hips coming up and back rounding).

In short and as a basic summary - get in close to bar (some people, for sumo, say get "under the bar"), grab the bar, pull your chest up, arch, spread the knees, big belly, and rip it up. BUT, whilst ripping it up like any normal pull, really spread those knees out hard. And, pull "back".... "Chest back knees out"...


Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:42 pm
by Bacchus1979
Awesome - thanks for the feedback KPJ. I think there are definitely some hamstring mobility issues, (the result of a lot of rugby injuries over a lot of years) but they are getting MUCH better so that may be a part of the problem with the arch.

Doc - finally had time to read the article at work today (the first time I wasn't posting from my phone!), I dont really think too much about whether my butt is up or down before I start the lift, but I definitely try to drive my feet into the floor when I start the lift. Sounds like the jury is out on that one :) The bit that hit home for me though was the paragraph on pulling form the shoulders - something I might do well to keep in mind.

Re: Deadlift Form

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:08 pm
by Jungledoc
Bacchus1979 wrote:Sounds like the jury is out on that one :)
Like Kenny said, its a matter of the right cue for you. A cue is just that, something to get you to find the right movement. Some people (like me, for instance) have the tendency to overdo cues, or misdirect some. So for me, "taking the slack out of the bar" became leaning way back, extending my knees prematurely which led to progressively higher hips, and not a vertical tension. For me "chest up and my shoulders back" doesn't necessarily equate to "take the slack out of the bar". That's more of a positional cue than a movement cue. You can do that without tension on the bar. If "lean back slightly" helps you to put tension on the bar vertically, without getting your hips too far from the bar, it may be a good cue for you.