Approaching The Bar: Part 3

16 Mar

It’s St. Patty’s Day weekend, living in Boston this is sort of a big deal.

Shockingly I really don’t care about St. Patty’s Day at all. I’m not a party person, and even less of a hang around with drunk people person.

However! I do plan on stepping outside the comfort zone in another way this weekend, but you’ll have to wait til next week to find out how. I’ll try to get a picture, prepare to laugh.

On to part 3 of this Approaching The Bar series. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 click the links and catch up.

Today we’re talking about my favorite lift, the deadlift.

How I approach the deadlift is a lot different from the squat and bench. Mainly because the lift itself has a major fundamental difference. The deadlift starts from the ground, there is no eccentric phase. I definitely didn’t approach this lift when I was learning it the way I do now.


The first thing I do is place my feet under the bar. While I’m standing over the bar I take a second to gather myself and basically just see myself making the lift.

From there I take my breath, through the nose into the stomach. After that everything happens extremely fast, and my breath is held until I put the weight back down. From there I squeeze my ass as hard as possible and lock my hips into extension while creating outward pressure on the lateral heel. This helps me load up, and shows my body the lock out position. It also helps me  get my hips open to make room for a deep hinge. After that I reach down and grab the bar. I lower myself to the bar with a very round upper back, and keep my knees locked out while I hinge at the hips as hard as possible. Technically at this point I’m in a terrible position to lift a lot of weight. My hips are high and my back is round. I like to do this because it’s the exact opposite of everything I WANT to do. So, after my grip is set, I throw everything into the right position forcefully. I extend the upper and lower back, pull my hips down and into the bar, hinge the hips hard and ride this momentum right into the pull.

This all takes place in a few seconds. Once I take that breath, it’s attack mode. In fact, the only thing I think about is being fast, and the only cue I think about is hips through.

When I teach the lift I have people be a lot more deliberate with the set up. Many times I don’t even let them pull until I give the cue to go. In these early stages I want them to know what right feels like. As they get better and more comfortable with the movement, I do advocate being fast and taking as little time as possible in the bottom position.

My big cues for the set up are:

1. Head neutral (chin tucked)

2. Shoulders locked back and down (show me the logo on your chest)

3. Pull yourself under the bar (arms are cables, leverage against the bar to get tight)

4. Ass back, feel the butt and hamstrings load up

During the lift I usually yell one of two things:

1. Hips through!

2. Shoulders back!

Over the weekend I will talk about the bench press to wrap up this series, Happy St. Patty’s Day!


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