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The Simple Training Technique to Raise Your Deadlift Max

Practice this counter-intuitive trick to improve your lifting form and achieve new gains.

Under normal circumstances, keeling over in the middle of a workout could mean you're overdoing it—but with deadlifts, it can mean a new max lift.

Here's why: Training yourself to fall backward as you perform the exercise, you position your body to generate greater strength for your lift, says Jim Wendler, a champion powerlifter from Elite Fitness Systems in London, Ohio, who used this very technique to deadlift more than 700 pounds.

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The Deadlift Training Technique

Stand over the bar with the same stance you would use to perform a jump. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, crouch down and grab the bar overhand, your hands about shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be directly over or even a little behind the bar, and your eyes should be focused straight ahead. Now rock back on your heels so that you're a little off balance as you drive your feet into the floor and begin pulling. You should feel as though you're falling backward.

After the bar rises past your knees, pull your head back and turn your chin up toward the ceiling. You'll probably stumble a bit during your warmup sets because of the light weight. But once you're ready to lift heavy, the weight will act as a safe counterbalance.

"Many people try to pull the bar straight up, but you should think about pulling up and back," Wendler says. Forcing your center of gravity backward puts the glutes and hamstrings in a more powerful position, allowing them to extend your hips more easily. That allows for a stronger lift, and a new max to fall back on.

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