I’ve made a ton of videos on how I increased my deadlift but, in this video, /article I want to talk about 5 tips that have helped me put on over 80lbs to my deadlift. Some mentioned in other videos, others this is their first time being mentioned.

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I’m on the journey of increasing my deadlift and getting a strong pull. In my lifetime I would like to pull over 800lbs RAW.

I have a lot of people say to me all the time “you’ve added so much weight to your DL in a short amount of time, how so?” well the short answer is… I never really deadlifted. I was soaking up those newbie gains!

Growing up I started off a bodybuilder focusing on the “bro” splits and just going to get a pump as much as possible. I never really did deadlifts, maybe Romanian Deadlift for my hamstrings.

Then during football season in the weight room, they broke us up by position. I was a skill position (linebacker/fullback) and for some reason they had us working tons of cleans/power cleans (go figure) but I think during my entire football career I deadlifted five times AND it was always higher reps. I didn’t even deadlift when I went to college.

The first time I pulled 500lbs was just a random day post-college in a commercial gym.

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My deadlift was severely UNDERTRAINED.

I focused a lot on all the other lifts, but it wasn’t until competing in strongman I realized how far behind I was and how important a deadlift was in the sport. That was when I decided to make the change!

Here are my 5 tips the have helped me immensely

Tip #1: Warming Up More Efficiently

I used to spend a ton of time warming up for deadlifts and doing all sorts of mobility drills, stretches and take a ton of warm up sets.

I realized later that I was wasting a ton of time doing this which could have just been used just deadlifting with the barbell. So now I just grab a barbell and I’ll do some empty barbell RDLS, then just add on some weight and do deadlifts until I’m warm right into my working sets.

I don’t have a lot of time to train so this works for me. If you have all the time in the world awesome, warm up until the sun goes down. But time is precious for me. Doing this also saved me some energy which can be used for my heavier sets later on. The bottom line, your warm-up shouldn’t be your workout!

Tip #2: Paying Attention to My Grip:

Looking back on my deadlifts from years ago I saw a common trend of my grip being wider than it should be. For the most part the wider your grip, the harder the deadlift will be due to a long pull. This happens because it is and away from center mass. Over time I’ve learned to keep my grip right outside of my shins and as close to my body as possible.

This has made a big difference especially going for heavy singles and PRs. I think I got into this habit from Olympic lifting where you have a wider grip on the bar for the clean to have a better front rack position. The snatch obviously shows a wider grip and to make it simple for you guys you will be able to deadlift way more with a regular close grip than a snatch grip deadlift.

If it’s the opposite, I’m greatly concerned! Keep that grip tight and close to your shins.

Tip #3: Utilizing Leg Drive

I have a unique starting position prior to pulling. This is yet again another habit I developed during my Olympic lifting days where I would drop my hips prior to the clean and then into the pull. I do the same thing with my deadlift and at first this was an issue because my knees would shoot forward (like a clean) and then I would pull.

It looked like a cross between a clean and deadlift. However, this is not the most efficient bar path for a deadlift. Over time I’ve been able to train myself to keep my shins more vertical and hips higher during the pull.

I get a lot of comments about how my hips are low but pay attention to where my hips are when the bar breaks off the ground. You will see they are in a “regular” deadlift hip height. The main reason I do this is to keep my lats tight, and also use my legs as much as possible when pulling the bar.

If you aren’t using every muscle you got, what’s the point? Now this technique is specific to me and something I’ve worked on for years. I don’t suggest you all go and switch over to my style because I am different than you. But just make sure you can feel your legs working during the pull.

Tip #4: Resetting between Each Rep

I won’t lie when I first started doing this, it felt super weird and abnormal. I was always used to slamming the barbell down and pulling right back up for touch and go reps.

It’s also what you will see done the most in strongman during deadlift for rep events, as well as CrossFit. However, when you are trying to become good at the movement every rep count.

Typically, when doing touch and go the bar tends to kick out away from the body. This can make the lift feel heavier and puts you out of position. When you force yourself to take a second between each rep you are working on getting better technique each time.

This prevents as much breakdown as possible and will help you in your set up. This also comes into play when working on heavier sets with less volume. What can separate making or missing a rep could be a technique.

As competition gets closer that may have max rep events I will then obviously do touch and go reps, but always in the offseason/further out from the competition I reset each time. Resetting means 1-2 seconds not 5-10 =].  

Tip #5: Head Position

This is a controversial topic, which for me means I always fall somewhere in the middle of both ends of the spectrum. Keeping this simple, keep a neutral gaze while deadlifting. Keeping a neutral gaze will keep your neck in line with the trunk and will feel natural while pulling. It just gives you positional feedback.

I wouldn’t recommend looking up because sometimes it can make people dizzy which could lead to a miss lifts, or even falling backward. Looking down just seems to be the exact opposite and there hasn’t been much put out about it but I have always felt that looking down gives the body positional feedback to go down.

So, in a deadlift that seems counterproductive. But that’s my opinion.

The conclusion is keeping a neutral gaze has helped me. But we all pull differently. Start with a neutral gaze looking a few feet out and glue your eyes to something. See how that works and adjust accordingly.

I hope these tips help someone out there with their deadlift and add some weight to your barbell.

Tags: Deadlift
Joey Szatmary
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Joey Szatmary

Founder of Szat Strength and current Overall 2019 National Heavy Weight Strongman Champion.