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Lift Like a First-Rounder

With 90% of your muscles engaged, you can lift more weight with this lift than any other in the gym.
Lift Like a First-Rounder
James Michelfelder

According to top NFL combine trainer Ryan Flaherty, founder and CEO of Prolific Athletes, the hex-bar deadlift (aka the “trap-bar deadlift”), is the best, most efficient lift you can do since it utilizes 90% of skeletal muscle at max effort. (You can read more about the details in The Money Lift: How a Top-Flight Trainer Discovered the Most Important Exercise Every Athlete Should Do.) Here, Men’s Fitness Training Director Sean Hyson offers a crash course in doing it right. If you’re just getting started, bear in mind: The first week, you should perform several warmup sets of 8 reps, gradually adding weight until you reach a load that lets you do about 9 reps—still, perform only 8. The next week, follow the same procedure but work up to 6 reps, with a 7th “in the tank.” Week 3, go for 4 reps. For the next three weeks, work up to 7-, 5-, and 3-rep maxes. You’ll notice your strength and speed increase dramatically. Follow the three steps on the slides below to nail the right form. 

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Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend your hips back to lower your hands to grip the bar, bending your knees. Your lower back should be flat. Grasp the bar’s handles in the middle. The big knuckle of your middle finger should line up with the center of the bar. Push your knees apart.

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Take a deep breath and brace your abs. Your chest should point forward and your eyes should focus on a spot on the floor several feet in front of you. Retract your neck so you feel like you’re making a double chin. Now drive your heels into the floor as you begin lifting the bar upward.

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Stand up, squeezing your glutes as you lock out your hips. Be careful not to lean backward and push your hips too far forward, which will hyperextend your lower back. Keep your back flat as you bend your hips back and lower the bar. It’s OK to drop it, but control its path.

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