View Full Version : Deadlift & Squat Form / Sticky Point Fixing?

08-06-2010, 07:53 PM
Hey dudes.

So I maxed on Deadlifts today. My form sucks and always has, but my strength has been going up and I'm getting pretty close to where I'd be a competitive 140lb raw lifter. I'm 210lbs. So it would be nice to get a bit stronger.

I'm mostly wondering if there are any cues that you guys can give me on Deadlift. And also / more importantly, I'm not really sure what my weak point is (I'm guessing it's off the floor), so I was wondering if, based on the videos, anyone can tell me what it is, and what I need to do to fix it.

I have 2 videos. First is 535lbs and second is 559lbs. Both were PRs (I was stuck on 475 as of April). The second lift I messed up on a bit. I wanted a dynamic start, so I reached down fast and gripped the weight, but I stupidly did a mixed grip with hook grips, and I didn't get my left hand on well. So it started slipping, and I hit my knee pad thing with my finger and it started slipping. So I stalled out for awhile and then eventually got it. I don't think I would have stalled quite as bad otherwise. I'm also not sure if it counts as anything but a gym lift since the bar started falling.

I yell a lot at the end of the second video. It was a Phil Pfister reference and a joke. But I did overhype the lift for a full minute like a bitch.




For squats, I'm trying to box squat. My form sucks. Any cues or any advice? I suck at squat.


Thanks guys.

Sean S
08-07-2010, 10:23 AM
Your initial position when you grab the bar on the DL is fine but as soon as you start pulling you shoot your hips up and round your back. It's likely that your glutes, hamstrings, and even quads to an extent aren't strong enough to drive the bar off the floor so you shoot up your hips to a position of better leverage with the legs. Likely your back is strong than the legs, so your body automatically throws most of the load on the strongest muscle group when the load gets too heavy. The same thing happened on the second DL but you also hitched or let the bar come down slightly around the knees. It wouldn't pass in a powerlifting competition. There are a couple things you can do to correct this.
1) Pull with correct form every single time, even if you have to lighten the weight. Your hips should rise at the same rate as the bar (i.e. not shoot up before the bar even leaves the floor) and you should maintain the arch in your back through the entire lift. Take some weight off and work sets of 3-5 reps (resetting between reps to get everything right) with perfect form. Slowly add weight to these sets over a period of weeks and months. If you add weight and your form breaks down, stop there and don't go any heavier until you can do it correctly.
2) Strengthen the legs with a good dose of work for the hamstrings and glutes. Doing what I've outlined above will help these areas but you might also consider some things such as glute-ham raises, pull-thru's, kettlebell sumo swings, wide stance box squats, band leg curls, wide stance GM's, etc....

For your SQ here's what I would suggest:
1) Secure the bar better. It's moving around the entire set. You might also take more of a high bar position since you have a big forward lean due to your proportions. The high bar position will allow you to stay a little more upright while still keeping the bar over the foot.
2) Arch much harder and hold the arch for the entire movement. Particularly your upper back.
3) Don't rock on the box. If you are going to use a box, go down and pause for a second and come back up. You can't rock in the hole when doing a free SQ, so don't do it with a box SQ.

08-07-2010, 11:57 AM
Sean, thanks a ton. Super helpful.

And yeah I didn't think that would be a passing lift but I wasn't positive. I really do think I could have hit it though bc lockout is usually not an issue for me. I got 518+Blue Bands the previous week.

I'm going to get to work on everytging you said. Would there be any benefit to doing Leg Press? I know it's kinda lame, but I use my back a lot when I squat and I thought that might be a good way to isolate the legs.

08-07-2010, 12:18 PM
I think Sean S is right on.

I think you need to bring up your glute, hamstring, back strength (arch).

It looks to me like your glute/hams aren't strong enough to 1) keep your but from popping up on the deadlift, and 2) keep you from free falling just above the box on your squat.

When you box squat, lead with your head when you stand back up and arch hard.

08-07-2010, 12:26 PM
One more question regarding switching form and being strict about not letting my hips shoot up ---

I want to have my lifts as high as possible by January because I start doing competitions (for CrossFit) around then. I've spent a couple weeks before doing work on strict deadlifts, and I can only do about 50% of the weight as when I use crappy form (about 110kg / 245lbs for 5 reps). If I spend a lot of time doing them that way, I'm worried it'll take me at least a full year before I get up to the weight I'm at now, and I'm worried that I won't be used to heavy weight by January. I was thinking about alternating weeks: one week anything goes, next week strict. That said, having better form would be really helpful because it would help my Clean and Snatch a lot more.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sean S
08-07-2010, 01:23 PM
The answers here depend on exactly what you will be doing in competition. Are you doing a powerlifting competition or a crossfit competition? If it's something other than a powerlifting competition, what are the rules?
Getting the hamstrings and glutes stronger in general may help the clean and snatch, but I don't know that a sumo DL has the greatest carryover to the clean and snatch.

08-07-2010, 01:50 PM
CrossFit competition. They announce the events like 2 days in advance. Deadlifts are almost always part of the competition. Usually either max Deadlift, or 315x10 or so for a few rounds in a cardio (metcon) workout. They usually allow Sumo (I'm only around 515 conventional and I spent 18 months doing only conventional). Sometimes they'll say "IPF rules", and other times it's just "get the bar to your hips and hold it."

Clean & Jerk and Snatch are also popular 1rm events.

It's hard to decide how to train. I think Conventional is going to have a bigger carryover to Clean/Snatch, but I'm never going to be near as strong as I am Sumo. I've been training them both lately because of this. I was thinking about spending the next few months doing:
Strict Conventional - Week 1
Strict Sumo - Week 2
Heavy Sumo - Week 3
And doing 3-5 reps for a few sets, like you mentioned. I'm open to advice.

Sean S
08-07-2010, 03:47 PM
If I were training for this I would do something like this:
Week 1: strict conventional, work up to heavy single (but not all out max)
Week 2: strict sumo followed by one down set of high reps
Week 3: strict sumo (3-4 sets) then work up to heavy single (don't go all out max every time)
Week 4: speed pulls (singles with ~60% with 30-60 sec. rest between); 6-8 singles sumo then 6-8 singles conventional
Week 5: deload or repeat cycle

I think this should allow some heavier work, but get you plenty of volume with moderate weights to dial in your technique. Even on your heavy pulls don't let your technique fall apart completely. Always strive for good technique even if it will rarely look perfect with a max weight. Again, you don't have to go for an all-out max every time you work up to a heavy single. Earlier this year I pulled 620 without any trouble while not having gone above 585 in training prior to the meet, so you don't have to kill yourself with max attempts all the time to get stronger.

08-10-2010, 12:33 PM
I'm going to follow your plan verbatim. Thanks a ton, Sean. I'll let you know how it works in a few months.

08-11-2010, 04:12 AM
I say Sean S hit it D E A D O N .

First, I do not blame you for the form; it was a max/pr so granted form will breakdown.

I actually have the same problem in which my hips shoot up first and I end up doing a stiff-legged deadlift with heavier poundages. Mainly you're playing directly into your strength (back, hams) with a combination of not having your shoulders blades correctly placed in correlation with the bar.

Even though this is a sumo deadlift, it moreso resembles just a widestance conventional deadlift. Try to open your legs as wide as possible (push your knees out) and "spread the flow with your feet"

08-27-2010, 02:16 PM
Just wanted to check in and say that this is working really well so far.

I think my max on deadlifts without shooting my hips up was probably no more than 335 a few weeks ago. I was on Week 3 yesterday and I hit 375 perfectly. I thought after that my form would completely break down, but I was able to hit 509 with form that still looked pretty decent (much much better than the 535 video). I went on and hit 530 and shot my hips up quite a bit, but the weight felt very light and I went ahead and doubled it easily. I think I was good for at least 3 reps if I really pushed it. I think next time through I'll be able to hit 535 with decent form and 405 with near perfect form.

So anyway, the follow up question I have is that I really feel my hamstrings working hard when pulling off the floor when I use proper form. I think they're definitely the weak point in the lift. I can't do 20 different exercises because I have such diverse goals with CrossFit. I'm already doing low box squats. What is the one other supplemental lift I should work in to bring up my hamstrings for squats/deadlifts? I feel like GHR's work them really well, but at the same time they're kinda a different movement from deadlift so I don't know if the carry-over will be the best.

Again, thanks a lot. I really think your plan is going to help my deadlift a lot.

Oh and also, remembering to arch my upper back hard is helping a lot on squats. I really appreciate the advice.

08-27-2010, 02:39 PM
I would say good mornings, if you aren't doing them already. Really concentrate on hitting the hamstrings/glutes.

Sean S
08-27-2010, 07:16 PM
I would second the recommendation for GM's. Make sure you really push the glutes back as far as possible and keep the GM's strict to keep the emphasis on the hamstrings. Since you are already pulling heavy don't get too caught up in the GM poundages, just make sure they are hitting the target muscles. I would also keep the GHR's in your training somewhere. They aren't terribly taxing so a few sets a week shouldn't eat into your recovery ability too much.

08-27-2010, 08:07 PM
I would second the recommendation for GM's. Make sure you really push the glutes back as far as possible and keep the GM's strict to keep the emphasis on the hamstrings. Since you are already pulling heavy don't get too caught up in the GM poundages, just make sure they are hitting the target muscles. I would also keep the GHR's in your training somewhere. They aren't terribly taxing so a few sets a week shouldn't eat into your recovery ability too much.

Strict gm's are one of the best.

08-27-2010, 11:29 PM
GHR, good mornings & GM against bands really helped my hamstrings. Dont forget SLDL and pull-thrus are also very worthwhile exercises w/ good carry over.

Good luck, RC

08-28-2010, 02:10 PM
Take the knee pads off when pulling. They can ruin a set quick if the bar catches on them. Hit your abs hard. Atleast 4 times per week. This makes your squat and pull move up in weight fast.