Brandon Lilly is an elite powerlifter and strength coach, having competed in bodybuilding, strongman and powerlifting, in which he has a 2,237lb personal best. He is the author of The Cube Method and 365Strong. He is based in Richmond, Kentucky
Form is king
I tell all my lifters to get close to the bar and imagine doing a leg press. Keep the bar close to the shins and uncoil the body all at once. Always think about leg pressing when you deadlift. This simple cue has helped numerous lifters realise that deadlifting is a full-body lift, not just a back move.
Pull on a plate
Deadlifting whilst standing on a plate will reinforce leg drive and increase speed off the floor. Do this every week you are working for reps. As you get ready to attempt a new PR, remove the plate and I bet you’ll be impressed with the results.
This is the most important tip for a good deadlift. You have to really want it. The move is heavy and hard and it’s easy to quit, so before you even touch the bar you need to have in your mind that you will get it up, no matter what.
Paul Carter is the chief executive at Lift-Run-Bang.com and has more than 25 years of experience under the bar, having coached some of the best strength athletes in the world. He is the author of Strength, Life, Legacy, and Base Building and is based in Kansas City, Kansas
Pronate your toes
Your glutes cannot contract maximally unless there is some external hip rotation. Try it: stand with your toes facing forward and contract your glutes as hard as possible. Now point your toes slightly outward and contract them. You will feel a much stronger contract with pronated toes. If your lockout is weak and you are deadlifting with your toes pointing straight ahead, then point your toes slightly out so that your glutes can contract harder to help finish the lift.
Hips and shoulders
Always get your hips up and have your shoulders over the bar. I used to read a load of about ‘getting your shoulders behind the bar’, but this is impossible from a mechanical standpoint. To be in a maximally-leveraged position in the deadlift you need to be in a position where your shoulders are over the bar, and your hips are high enough so that your shins are vertical.
Don’t chase the heavy weight
Don’t train the deadlift heavy all the time. One thing I know about the deadlift is that it tends to take more than it gives back. The hips and lower back take a solid beating from heavy deadlifts and the erectors recover slower than any other muscle. Spend most of your time pulling weights that are between 75% and 85% of your one-rep max, concentrating on speed and explosiveness. Training the deadlift heavy all the time can be counterproductive and cause frustration. Let the heavy weights come to you on the deadlift. Don’t chase them.
Josh Bryant is a strength coach at Metroflex Gym in Texas. He holds 12 world records in powerlifting and is co-author of the Amazon best-seller Jailhouse Strong. His new book, Built to the Hilt, is out now. He is based in Arlington, Texas
Do dynamic stretches…
Static stretching prior to any activity that requires maximal force production or rate of force development is not recommended. Numerous studies have shown that explosive power and force production decrease after static stretching. Dynamic stretching is my preferred warm-up protocol to maximise strength and explosive power.
…and one static stretch
There is one instance where static stretching may improve your deadlift. When deadlifting, your hip flexors work as an antagonist, meaning they resist an explosive lockout powered by the glutes. If your hip flexors are in a weakened state through static stretching you deadlift more explosively, because you inhibit their inhibitory effect. Stretch your hip flexors for two sets of 30 seconds each side prior to heavy deadlifts and pull more.