Powerlifting for the tall part IV: The Deadlift

They say the meet doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor.

For most of us tall folk, your first deadlift was probably the point at which you realised succeeding in powerlifting might be plausible!

Arguably, the deadlift is the one lift in which success is easier for us tall folk, especially those of us with long arms and shorter femurs.

But, regardless the deadlift is the movement that is easiest. Nevertheless, there are some important elements you have to master in order to succeed in the deadlift and progress in powerlifting long term.

Build the hamstrings and the rest will follow

Hamstrings are crucial to deadlifting. Especially, ensuring that you have a high level of hamstring flexibility is crucial to getting into a good starting position and making sure that you can complete the lift as efficiently as possible.

The best way to ensure this is by adding in accessories. The most crucial element of this which differentiates you from a “normal height” lifter would be specificity. For us, it is not always the best choice to focus on movements that put a lot of pressure or stress through the posterior chain. A major point of weakness for us taller lifters is the spine.

So there are a few key exercises that you can do, which will actually benefit you without over fatiguing yourself or tiring out your posterior chain.

  1. Dumbell stiff leg deadlift

These are great, they allow you to focus on building the hamstrings while also moving heavy weight, building grip strength, and removing imbalances.

2.  Banded hamstring curls

Another excellent exercise to build the hamstrings without destroying your back. Doing this with a light band and high reps and alternating with heavier hamstring curls is going to help you to improve all elements of your deadlift as well as your overall hamstring strength.

3. Hip thrusts

Okay, not going to lie I never do these! But, I program them in for almost everyone that is trying to squat or deadlift more. They are such a useful tool for building glute strength and explosive power in the deadlift.

Find a style of pulling that does not hurt

This one is more of a personalised topic. It is highly dependent on your personal leverages and strengths/ weaknesses. For me, I spent the last two years of my powerlifting career pulling conventional. I have pulled comfortably over 600 this way. And there is certainly room for a considerable amount of progress left in this direction. I think that I am more than capable of pulling 700 soon that way.

However, after my last training cycle and the issues, I faced at my meet. I have been playing around with sumo. The pain I consistently felt pulling conventional and squatting in oly shoes is not worth the payout. I could definitely squat 20 lbs more in oly shoes and probably pull at least 50lbs right now conventional. But, I also have to consider the long term ramifications of my lifting. I don’t want to be permanently crippled I want to enjoy training and I want to do my best in competitions.

So as a result, I am making some switches. They are definitely not the easiest for me technique-wise and they are going to require a lot of work and consistency going forward.  But, it will help me to survive and hopefully thrive!

Keep the volume low and your groove will come

You can add in all the volume you want and change up your style weekly. But, you will never perform well in competition without finding a consistent form and volume capability.

For me, the biggest learning curve has been the deadlift. As I mentioned in the earlier post about squat, reps are not as important as total volume. So finding a comfortable volume which you can hit week to week and build upon will allow you to prevent injury and ensure success in the lift.


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