Deadlifts are an effective way to target your legs, lower back, and glutes at the same time. It is also a great way to strengthen your core and a must-have exercise for most strength and conditioning classes.
Deadlifts are one of the few exercises that allow you to simultaneously target your lower body and upper body. It is a particularly effective way to hit all the major muscles in your lower half at the same time. Your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Deadlifts increase size, strength, power, and speed.
Maintaining proper form when performing this exercise is a must. The proper form for deadlifts starts with the weight on the ground. With your hands shoulder-width apart, pull the bar above your knees and lock up your hip and knees. Return back to the starting position by bending your legs and moving your hips. Keep your lower back neural at all times during this exercise.
Using the proper form when performing deadlifts allows you to better target the muscle groups worked by this exercise, leading to increased muscle mass and strength gains.
Here are a few tips that will help you get more out of your deadlifts:
1) Don’t forget about squats
Deadlifts and squats go hand in hand. People who go right to deadlifts without ever squatting tend to shoot their hips upwards when performing repetitions.
Having strong legs is also beneficial to performing deadlifts with the proper form since it gets you used to pushing weights with your legs. Most importantly, performing squats teaches you how to go from a seated position to standing straight without rounding your back.
If you have never done deadlifts before, you can prepare to implement it into your lifting routine by squatting a few times a week for a month or so. Avoid doing deadlifts while you are becoming used to squats. If you absolutely feel a need to pull something, substitute with speed pulls.
This tip might seem counterintuitive at first, but many powerlifters have reported improvements to their deadlift after a few weeks focusing on squats.
2) Work on your grip
Unless you are one of those lucky people who is born with insanely strong grip strength, you will need to do some work on your grip if you want to get the most out of your deadlifts.
Lifting weights by itself improves your grip. Exercises that require the use of dumbbells, shrugs, and pull up are a few examples of exercises that naturally strengthen your grip.
If your grip strength isn’t very good, your ability to perform deadlifts can become limited by it. Straps can be used to reduce the weight you are pulling up with your hands, but it does take away a bit from the effectiveness of the exercise.
Working on your grip will make you more confident when performing deadlifts. It also allows you to target your muscles more efficiently as well as give you faster acceleration off the floor.
As easy way to strengthen your grip while performing deadlifts is by holding the top position for a minute or so during your last rep of your heaviest set. It is a tiny little detail that can easily be incorporated into your routine.
Other exercises you can do to improve your grip include:
- Kroc rows
- Shrugs (with overhand grip)
- Farmer’s walks
- Static barbell holds
- Bench squeezes
- Static hangs
- Bent-over rows
3) Perfect your technique
Improving your technique is one of the fastest ways to improve the results you get from performing deadlifts. It is even more effective than isolating individual muscle groups like your hamstrings, quads, or glutes and strengthening them.
With the exception of squats, which we talked about earlier, you would be better off focusing on your technique instead of worrying about strengthening the key muscle groups involved in isolation.
When your technique is good, your muscles will get stronger proportionally with each other, so there should never be a time when one muscle group is preventing you from moving on to heavier weights.
A little trick you can do to start off each repetition with proper form is to make sure the bar slides across your legs during the exercise. The bar should never be more than an inch away from your thighs and shins when performing repetitions.
Something else you can do is ensure your hips are where they need to be when the bar leaves the ground before starting the exercise. If your hips are too low, you end up in a position where your technique is compromised, and you lose speed off the ground.
4) Alternate stances
If you prefer using a conventional stance for your deadlifts, spend a few months using the alternative sumo stance. Conversely, if the sumo style is your preference, spend a few months using a conventional style.
That prevents you from having a huge disparity between your sumo and conventional deadlift strength. It also allows you to hit some of the muscles involved during deadlifts from different angles.
You should also consider incorporating the semi-sumo stance (medium width) into your lifting routine.
Use these four tips we have discussed above to improve the effectiveness of your deadlifts. Remember, this exercise is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your core and build overall strength in the gym.