Considered one of the most important exercises in fitness, the deadlift is a compound movement that targets several major muscle groups. Used as a part of a comprehensive workout program, the deadlift can help to build muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Since it activates the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, core, and back at the same time, it’s also great for promoting fat burning.
Are you new to deadlifting? Do you want to take your deadlift to the next level? Here are several hacks to improve your deadlift and attain better results.
1. USE ROMANIAN DEADLIFTS FIRST
If you have never deadlifted before, it’s best to walk before you run. We recommend starting with Romanian Deadlifts first. This exercise focuses on the same target muscles while reducing the risk for incorrect form. It also helps to strengthen required muscles and avoid over compensation.
To perform a Romanian Deadlift, hold a barbell or a pair of dumbbells in front of you resting on your thighs. Keep your chest up and tighten the core. Bend the knees and drive your butt back. Slowly lower the barbell or dumbbells to the ground, keeping them close to your legs. Once your back is parallel with the ground, pause and return to the starting position.
Try using the Romanian Deadlift in your routine for one month then advance to the traditional barbell deadlift. When you’re ready to starting deadlifting, use our deadlifting checklist to perfect your form and technique.
2. CHECK YOUR STANCE
Once you start deadlifting or if the exercise is already a part of your routine, you can easily improve your deadlift by checking your stance. More specifically, look at where your feet are. Do you have a wide stance similar to one that you use when you squat?
For a traditional deadlift, your feet should be under your hips. A wide stance is required for a sumo deadlift. Take a look at the barbell and you’ll notice two smooth parts in the center. This is where most people can align their feet. If you have wider or narrower hips, adjust accordingly.
3. STRENGTHEN YOUR GRIP
You’re only as strong as your weakest point, and for most people, their grip fails long before the hamstrings. If you want to see better results in your deadlift, you should focus on increasing your grip strength. There are a few essential ways to do this:
THICK BAR TRAINING
Using thicker barbells or dumbbells can dramatically increase your grip strength. If you don’t have access to thick bar training equipment, you can use thick grips. Simply slid on the thick grip to the barbell or dumbbell and you’ll get the same benefits of thick bar training.
The Farmer’s Walk is an exercise that helps to build muscle, increase core strength, and skyrocket grip strength. Holding a pair of heavy dumbbells, preferably with a thick grip, keep your chest up and core tight as you walk up and down the gym. Do this until your grip fails. Rest and repeat.
DON’T USE LIFTING STRAPS
With all of the fitness equipment that is available, it can be tempting to use something like lifting straps. By using lifting straps, you’re weakening your grip. Lifting straps should only be used after you have reached a weight threshold where you are not physically capable of holding on to the weight without assistance. Max out your grip strength then use lifting straps if necessary.
4. AVOID A WEIGHTLIFTING BELT (WHEN NOT LIFTING HEAVY)
Similar to lifting straps, you should avoid using a weightlifting belt for most workouts. Unless you’re a serious powerlifter with plenty of experience, you should be focusing on building raw strength and power. One of the most common weightlifting belt mistakes is using one before you need to.
Despite popular belief, you use a weightlifting belt as a piece of support for your abdominal wall to push on. The weightlifting belt is not for your back. It’s important to strengthen and fortify your abdominal wall before you start using a weightlifting belt, especially for the deadlift exercise.
The deadlift requires a high level of core strength as you are starting from the ground in a bent position then hinging to the top of the movement. The core is involved every step of the way. Performing the deadlift without a belt can help to increase core strength and lean muscle tissue.
Once you have maxed out your raw strength without a belt, then consider using one for heavy weight, low repetition sets.
5. BE CONSISTENT
You have great form, you’ve ditched the lifting straps and weightlifting belt, and your grip strength is at an elite level, now all you have to do is be consistent.
One of the best ways to improve your deadlift is to practice it consistently. If you’re not a powerlifter, you should be incorporating your deadlift into two workouts per week. You can change up the amount of weight and sets you use, but the idea is to deadlift twice per week.
Here’s a quick deadlifting workout format to follow each week:
- Day One (Example: Monday): Lift heavy: 5 to 10 sets of 1 to 5 repetitions
- Day Two (Example Thursday): Lift light: 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions
This is an idea you can apply to other muscle groups as well, depending on your fitness goals. Read more about how often you should lift to build muscle.
WHICH DEADLIFTING HACK WILL YOU START USING?
Will you increase your grip strength? Do you need to start from scratch with Romanian Deadlifts? How will you improve your deadlift? Let us know on our Facebook.