More Than Just a Pull

The Deadlift is often referred to as “The Pull” by lifters and fans of lifting and strength sports in particular. This is rather unfortunate because the Deadlift is much more than just a pull.


The great Dan Green displaying “thickness” you could say!


Indeed, you might pull the bar off the floor but I would contend that one of the best coaching cues one can give is to “push the floor away”. That makes the Deadlift a pull and a push at the same time.


When I see beginners attempting to Deadlift I usually see two things:

  1. They have no business Deadlifting from the floor; they lack the flexibility and they need to start with Rack Pulls from an appropriate height before progressing onto full Deadlifts. While it is hard to say for sure that these misguided trainees are opening themselves up to injury, it scares the hell out of me, and I don’t like horror shows.


  2. Their hips rise as soon as they initiate the movement, which means that the lifter is pulling on the bar using their lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, among other muscles but not their quads.


The fix for number 2 is, as you initiate the movement think about pushing the floor away from you, then as the bar breaks from the floor think about pulling your head back. Yes, just like with the Squat “head back” is a great cue.


Another useful, and rather unusual cue I use, as in I haven’t heard it put like this before, is “contact”. Contact refers to the lifter keeping “contact” with the upper edge of their belt, thus ensuring a lumbar arch and a tight upper back as the lifter is trying to pull their lats down in order to keep contact with the belt. I call this locking the back in position.


As far as beginners and intermediates are concerned, I believe that the above will fix pretty much all your Deadlifting issues so long as you’re following a good programme such as those found in my book “Becoming Mighty”. And give it time! You are not going to have the awesome Deadlift of Mr Green (pictured above) within a year, actually I can safely say that you’ll never have his Deadlift so be realistic, but you will get over the 400lb (182.5kg) barrier quicker than 90% of your gym buddies.


Train hard, train smart and Be Mighty,