You can give me as much shit for this as you want, but I thoroughly enjoy lifting things up and putting them back down. It's barbaric.
It's straight forward.
And it's just an all around good time.
So, here are 5 tips to help you get more out of your deadlift.
Have An Indicator Set/Weight
You need to know when you're feeling good and when you're not feeling good. Being able to make minor adjustments on the fly will go a long way in helping you stay healthy, and reap the rewards of continued progress. One easy way to do this is to have an indicator set/weight. This will help tell you what kind of day it's going to be. Let's use the following example. It's heavy deadlift day and you want to hit a 5x3. Say 315 is your indicator weight. If 315 seems to fly off the floor that day, then you know it's going to be a good day and you can afford to push the envelope. Maybe add a set, or drop the reps towards the end and go for a PR. If 315 feels like crap, then be smart enough to back off a little and save yourself for another day.
Pack Your Chin
For some reason, people like arching their heads back like crazy when they deadlift. This is a no no. Pack that chin, drive your head back, and get to neutral. Why is this important? As you arch your head back you lose your core and spinal positioning, in other words, you lose stability. If you're sitting down and reading this try this simple test. Sit straight up. Pack your chin and drive your head straight back to make a double chin. Pull that rib cage down and get as tight as possible. Now arch your head back and look up at the ceiling. What happened? My guess is that you found yourself in a less stable position with a weak core and arched back.
Don't Hang Out in the Bottom Position
Unlike the squat, the deadlift does not have a built in eccentric load. We know, however, that the eccentric portion of any lift is very important in its ability to build up some potential energy. Thus, do yourself a favor and get a little pre-stretch to boost up that potential energy. If you're a beginner, I wouldn't worry too much about this. Just get in a good position and lift without wasting time sitting at the bottom. All you're doing is getting tired and wasting energy.
I'm a big fan of deadlifting barefoot for a host of reasons:
1. It brings you closer to the bar and decreases the distance you have to lift the weight.
2. It makes it easier to drive force directly into the ground (as opposed to a soft, cushiony surface)
3. It teaches proper foot positioning
4. It helps increase ankle dorsiflexion.
5. The feet are one of the most powerful proprioceptors we have and spending time barefoot helps "train" that function.
Press the Ground Away
I know it's common terminology to refer to the deadlift as a pull, and I still do it from time to time, but the word pull carries the wrong connotation.
You are not pulling the weight off the floor. That makes me think of someone yanking with their back to get the weight up. Rather, you're pressing the weight up by pushing the ground away.
This is an important distinction and one you should spend time working on.
So next time you hit the gym focus on pressing the ground away to stand up, as opposed to lifting and/or pulling the weight off the floor.
Just don't be this guy: