Lets cover some groundwork on the deadlift first to establish some common ground. A compound movement by nature the deadlift is quite possibly one of the best movements you can perform, working the entirety of your posterior chain and being very beneficial for your core strength and stability, deadlifting regularly will see surges in both body composition and muscular strength too. With the compound nature of the movement comes a more complex movement execution as opposed to an isolation movement such as a hyper extension or rack pull, so prior to loading a deadlift make sure you have covered the fundamental form first. You can sign up to my email list here to receive weekly tips on doing so.
Generally speaking a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle so increasing your strength on movements such as a deadlift will show a significant correlation with muscular size too. The ability to progress can to an extent be completely linear if you have every single variable under control but 9 Times out of 10 we do seem to ' hit a brick wall ' this not only normal but completely expected within training programs we call this a plateau. These plateaus can often seem beyond confusing and almost impossible to overcome however analysis over the current situation can often reveal a solution to the problem.
Despite the movement pattern of a deadlift and it seeming ridiculously simple there is to a high degree a high level of complexity that comes with a deadlift I will be primarily covering today how you can directly get a stronger deadlift so for this we will be focusing on strictly the movement itself. A compound movement means we are working more than one muscle at a time fluently, however to assume each muscle in our body contains the same measure of strength would be quite simply moronic. Understanding that we have weak and strong body parts is a key variable within developing a stronger deadlift, for example the main muscles in a deadlift would be the:
-Lower back ( erector spinae)
I like to split the deadlift into 2 specific parts as it is always one of the 2 that people struggle with and by strengthening this weak part means we by default create a stronger deadlift.
The first part of the deadlift is from the floor or start position all the way up to the knees, this part of the movement requires more work from the legs so a strong leg drive is required if perhaps you have weak legs then that initial pull will be significantly lower, this will often result in the hips coming up and forcing the back to do the work which long term has a potential to cause injury. My best advice on developing this movement would be to focus on the set up so ensuring that your hips are down and locked into place with your shoulders back and down ensuring you are ready to create a strong pull with legs. Accessory and hypertrophy work directly on the quads and legs will also see improvements to the initial stage of a deadlift. In terms of movement adaptions we can create deficit deadlifts are the number one movement for developing a stronger leg drive, by elevating the body we create a larger range of motion and further force the hips down into place meaning we are forced to use a lot more leg drive.
The second part of the deadlift starts at the knees and finishes at the lock out position now this movement primarily involves the lower back and hamstrings/glutes when this phase is weak we can often expect to see hitching at the knees and the shoulders coming forwards to create an unsafe upper curve in the back. Form is very important here so ensuring that is covered Will always help but more so specifically using adaptations such as a rack pull means we can overload this part of the movement and get use to handling heavier loads which means when we transition back to a normal conventional deadlift neurally we are more prepared to lift a far more heavier total load.
Now we have covered the movement specifications going into programming would be the next variable to consider for example the deadlift is a very taxing movement on the central nervous system meaning the level of fatigue and rate of recovery is significantly higher than other movements, ensuring you have adequate rest is vitally important to ensure recovery because when we are recovered we are better suited to perform better. There are two ways we can go about this each has their place but it is strictly individual to which you respond better to. Complete rest between sessions would be the first option say for example you run a PPL set up on a single rotation and deadlift on every pull day, on the first week you would maximally deadlift record your numbers then when the next pull comes around you completely leave deadlifts until the 3rd week what we are doing here is not loading the lower back and ensuring a better quality of rest before going again.
The second option would be what I have mentioned previously in the post would be exercise rotation so say for example you are again running the PPL set up on a single rotation on the first week you would deadlift maximally, then going into the second week you would rotate to another movement similar to a deadlift but more so designed to rest the CNS but work on weak areas too.
Each of these have their places but it is completely individual, my best advice would be to first identify your weak area of the deadlift then from there tap into the weak components and program a rotation that will increase the deadlift with the points I have given.
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