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.

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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