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Resistance Training

5 tips for improving your deadlift strength

By Joe Talarico on Jun 10, 2024 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time

Incorporating the deadlift is one of the most fundamental exercises you can incorporate into your routine. Known as one of the big lifts, it's a staple most veteran lifters routines. The reason being? Strength. Deadlift is one of the few exercises that allow you to move the most weight while stimulating the most muscle. Here are 5 tips for improving your deadlift strength:

1. Train Heavy

If strength is your goal, I’d actually recommend lifting the deadlift 2-3 times a week. HOWEVER, I’d only train heavy ONE of those days. If we tried going heavy all 3 days, you’d burn out really quickly. Increasing your strength comes from two things: technique and progressive overload. By having one heavy day, you will address progressive overload. That is, each week, trying to add 1 more rep or 5 more pounds to the bar. This will ensure you are continually placing a strong enough stimulus to elicit strength adaptations.

2. Hit the Weakness

As you start to build strength and work on your deadlift for a while, you’ll start to notice weak points within the lift. For some it may be at the bottom trying to get it off the ground without falling forward. For others it may be driving your hips through at the top to finish. Whatever your weak area is, make sure to spend time working on those. For example, if it’s an issue of pulling from the floor, you can implement deficit deadlifts on one of your lighter days to work on that sticking point. You can also utilize bands to work on other sticking points of your lift.

3. Make Sure to Deload

It can be easy to get so obsessed with training strength and adding weight week to week that you forget you need a break. It’s very easy for a starting lifter to assume that if they take a week off, they’re “wasting their time”. On the contrary. It will make you stronger. Don’t think of taking a week off as a missed week. Instead, consider the fact that the 4-6 weeks leading up to that deload, you have been constantly progressively overloading. That causes an increase in volume. Your body and central nervous system can only take so much volume in a given mesocycle until it needs a break. The reason for this break is to give the body a chance to catch up to the added volume demands you’ve now placed on it. It needs a chance to catch up to all the work you’ve done. By incorporating a deload (putting everything at 50% intensity) you get to still practice the movement, but you give your body and brain a chance to get rid of that accumulated fatigue.

4. Technique

The second piece I referred to in Tip 1 is technique. By training 2-3 times a week on this specific lift, you can ensure your form is in tip top shape. While adding weight will for sure increase your strength, we can’t forget the neuromuscular component. The more frequent we practice a movement, the better we get at the movement pattern. You’d be surprised how much breaking through a plateau can come purely from fixing and working on efficiency through your technique. Make sure to go lighter those other days in order to practice form (usually 50-60% of your heavy day).

5. Varied Exercises

We can only do so many variations of the deadlift throughout our career to bust through plateaus. If for nothing else but to keep the workouts feeling fresh, but also to help stimulate “novelty” gains, it can help to incorporate unconventional movements that will challenge your body in a new way. Exercises like Zercher squats, sandbag carries, cleans, etc. can stimulate stabilizing muscles and other major muscles in a way they haven’t performed before. This will then carry over back to your deadlift allowing you to continue to progress.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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