10/20/Life: Fixing Your Deadlift

Finishing up the 10/20/Life analysis series for this week, let’s take a look at some deadlifting. Again, as discussed, the entire point of this collection of articles is to show how 10/20/Life works:

1. Analyze your weak points.

2. Prescribe assistance exercises—and main lift variations—that directly address these weak points, turning them into strengths.

3. Get strong as a f***ing ox as a result.

APPROACH: As you go to set up, you’re getting some serious rounding (flexion). I used to do this, too. The trouble here is that if you don’t lock your back in completely, it’s going to move—the way it does as you explode. You’re losing a lot of energy here, and you could definitely stand to be a lot tighter. Think about locking you back into the lifter’s wedge and bending the bar.

FORM: You have a double movement going on as you transition. This is because you’re not tight enough, and you have some “slinky” action going on in your back. If you were to lock your lats in, bend the bar a little more, and arch, your hip position and starting position would be a little bit better. Your hips are too low, and they rise immediately. You’ll be able to rectify this problem with a better back arch.

Also, throw your head back as the bar crosses your knees, and squeeze your glutes at this point, too.

WEAK POINTS: Your upper back and lats need some work to solidify your starting position. When you miss, I’m guessing you miss right in the transition—where you’re rounded, your chin is out in front of the bar, and you have no leverage to squeeze the bar in.

FIX: With the cues above added in, here are a few exercises you should add to your routine. Add the back work in on deadlift day, and use your “fluff and buff” day to attack your weak points. Play with it and see what works for you.

McGill Pull-ups: 6-12 singles. This will allow you to develop the lat strength to keep the bar in tight, and to get into the right starting position.

Form Pulls (not just speed): Work on dialing in your form 100 percent, then work on getting faster. Do 50 percent of your 1-RM for singles.

One-Arm DB Rows: 3×6 (heavy and controlled).

Bird Dogs: Get used to locking your back in. Do 4-6 sets for holds. This is great for getting used to activating your glutes and pushing through at the top.

Lifter’s Wedge (empty bar): Do a few sets as a warm-up to get yourself into the proper position to pull.

Get The 10/20/Life Ebook HERE!

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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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