Deadlifts are the ultimate gym exercise, they work more muscles than any other exercise. Including the Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Latissimus Dorsi, Trapezius muscles, and the Rectus Abdominis (to name a few).
Deadlifts will boost your testosterone and growth hormone levels , increase strength, and increase fat loss. They help bodybuilders, and 40 year old mothers alike.
Getting the most out of your deadlifts means getting the most out of your workouts. This article will give you 10 tricks for boosting your deadlifts immediately
Tip #1. Get your Form Perfect
If you aren’t performing the deadlift properly you aren’t only missing out on maximal results, you could also be risking injury.
First things first, make sure that your barbell is on a truly flat surface and that the clips are on.
It might seem like a non-issue but making the bar secure can make a big difference to how you lift. It is the equivalent of a 100m runner not bothering to tie his laces properly, might not seem important at first but why risk catastrophe?
With the bar in front of you, place your feet under it so that the middle of your foot is directly underneath the bar. Have your feet slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly.
Next you want to bend your knees until your shins are touching the bar, place your hands either side of your knees. Then, using a mixed grip (one hand overhand, one underhand) grab hold of the bar. Push your chest out and bring your shoulders back.
Take a deep breath, and then lift the bar off the floor and push your hips forward until your arms are straight and the bar is resting against the top of your thighs.
You should be breathing out towards the end of the movement, then pause. Lower the bar back to the ground by pushing your hips backwards. Keep your chest out and back straight throughout.
Tip #2. Wear the Correct Shoes
Running shoes are designed for running, squat shoes are designed for squatting, and hiking boots are designed for hiking.
If you want to deadlift you can either go barefoot (if your gym allows it) or you can purchase yourself a pair of flat bottomed shoes.
Try to get ones with the thinnest soles available as the closer your feet are to the floor, the less distance the bar has to travel. Many powerlifters use Converse shoes because of this reason.
Tip #3. Use Chalk and a Belt
Don’t use lifting gloves, or straps. The gloves won’t help at all and the straps will help too much, negating the grip-strength required.
Chalk will prevent your hands from slipping but it will also make you use your grip strength to hold the bar, meaning that your grip strength will improve along with your deadlifting.
Weightlifting belts are a necessity when you are lifting heavy weights, some people say that they prevent you from getting the most out of the lift but this is rubbish. The only function that belts do is protect you in case of an accident. Wear a belt and prevent injury.
Tip #4. Increase Grip Strength
Along with the last one, using additional exercises to improve grip strength is a great idea.
Grip strength will help you lift more in the deadlift but also in other exercises such as bench press, pull ups, bent over rows, and many more.
Tip #5. Use Practice Sets to Warm Up
For most people a warm up means 5 minutes on the treadmill and then a couple of quad stretches, this is not good enough for deadlifting. Others go to the other extreme and spend 40 minutes foam rolling, band stretching, and other such exercises. The best warm up for deadlifting … is deadlifting!
By all means perform some goblet squats and do a bit of foam rolling if it makes you happy. But you would be better off spending your time warming up with light deadlifts.
Think about it, what movement would warm up the relevant muscles used in deadlifting better than a deadlift?
Tip #6. Perform Different Variations
Regular deadlifts are the most popular version, but there are also Sumo deadlifts which place a greater emphasis on the Adductor muscles. There are also deficit deadlifts, which involves lifting a weight that is slightly lower than usual.
Michael Hales (2010) talked about how one of the biggest issues for people who deadlift is that when you use the same exercise, and perform the same amount of sets and reps, the same muscle fibres will be activated. This prevents the rest of the muscle fibres from working which means that you will fail to adapt past a certain point .
Changing your technique will help combat this common limitation.
Tip #7. Start Performing Rack Pulls
Rack pulls are basically deadlifts but with a shorter range of motion, they are excellent for improving the upper part of the deadlift.
Performed with the bar on a raised platform (or in a rack) you start with the bar already at around knee height, from there you lift it just as you would a normal deadlift and then return it to the platform.
This allows you to use a substantially heavier weight, and will help to teach you how to deadlift.
Rack pulls are also another variation that you can add to your repertoire which will prevent boredom and may even help you increase your lift.
Tip #8. Lower the Rep Range
If you really want to increase the amount that you can lift, get bigger strength gains, and a superior hormonal response then lowering the amount of reps you perform in a set could be the answer.
Most people seem to follow the 3 sets of 10 reps approach, which is great for Hypertrophy but not so much for anything else mentioned above.
Lowering the reps will automatically mean that you can lift more, and doing so will lead to bigger strength adaptations.
Tip #9. Rest Properly
How long do you give yourself between deadlift sets? 30 seconds? 60? If you are lifting heavy enough than you should be taking around 3 minutes rest between sets.
This is enough time for your body to recover its ATP stores (fast action energy) sufficiently.
Increasing your rest period will mean better, stronger deadlifts.
Tip #10. Squat More
Squats are the best leg building exercise there is, they also work the lower back. Deadlifts rely on a strong back and strong legs. Hopefully by now you can see why squatting heavy will help you deadlift heavy.
As with deadlifts, low reps heavy weights is the way to go with lots of rest between sets.
 Shaner, A., Vingren, J., Hatfield, D., Budnar, R., Duplanty, A., Hill, D. 2014. The Acute Hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28(4): 1032-40
 Hales, M. 2010. Improving the Deadlift: Understanding Biomechanical Constraints and Physiological Adaptations to Resistance Exercise. Strength & Conditioning Journal 32(4): 44-51