Topping Off Your Deadlift

Topping Off Your DeadliftThe Deadlift may be the King Father of all exercises, and while most of us have our varieties of reasons for doing them, many of us come up short on answers as to how to improve them.

Even as the Deadlift is one continuous movement, hoisting the load (usually a bar, but other objects of weight can & will work just as well) from ground to hips can be broken down and re-assessed to give our bang a little more buck.

One popular approach, as referenced in Tim Ferriss’ interview with Pavel Tsatsouline is the Bottom Half approach. This is a method developed for runners, and quite simply is lifting the loaded bar from the ground to the knees and dropping it back to the ground. The reason for the drop is to preserve the hamstrings, as lowering a heavier load than the body is accustomed to lifting can do unwanted damage to the hamstrings, which in the world of running (or any world) is a bad thing.

In only going to the knees, some lifters are able to pull much more weight than they can normally Deadlift for the full range of motion. Aside from runners, this method will help any & every one looking to improve their Deadlifts.

Many of us struggle NOT with lifting the load from the ground, most of us, instead, miss the lockout, which happens in the range from the knees to the hips. If this is our sticking point in increasing or improving our Deadlifts, how should we proceed to develop?

If we have access to a well racked gym, we can simply set the pins on the Squat/Deadlift cage at approximately knee level, and work on our Top Half range. Or, we can stack or build platforms from which we initiate our lifts at knee level.

Another approach, and possibly a more effective approach is through the use of elastic bands or chains. This method requires that we practice with a lighter bar load, but even with this lightening of weights, we can still adjust tension to suit our needs & goals. Strength is, after all, the practice & process of tension.

Loop an elastic band (Lynx Barbell has an impressive variety) over the bar and under your feet. Perform your first rep through the full range of motion. Because of the band, you will feel the tension increase somewhere in the vicinity of the knees and all the way up to the lockout at the hips. On reps 2-5 or 7 (whichever rep range you choose or need to practice), only lower the bar until the point where the tension from the band disappears. Depending on your height, you may need to get a shorter band, perform deficits from a platform, or practice Sumo style Deadlifts to get the full benefits of this method.

Chains offer a similar benefit as the perception & practice of load increases as the elevation of the bar increases.

Whichever method you choose, bands or chains, throw it into your practice anywhere from once to a few times a week to enhance & improve your Deadlift capabilities.

As with anything, these practices are not the only way to improve your Deadlifts, so if you have other tried & tested methods, please share with other friends of the Adrenaline Complex in the comments below.

Get strong & love long,
~Lee

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