Become a Better Athlete With the Deadlift

October 19, 2012 | Michael Palmieri | Featured in the Holiday 2012 Issue

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Few exercises are simpler than the Deadlift. The move essentially mimics squatting down and picking something up off of the floor. Yet, it's acclaimed as one of the best exercises for athletes who want to get stronger, faster and more powerful. (See Josh Cribbs perform the Deadlift.)

Almost all fundamental sports skills, like running, jumping, throwing and tackling, start when you put power into the ground. The power travels up through your core and into your upper body. So, the more force you put into the ground, the better you will perform the skills for your sport.

The Deadlift is effective because it is such a basic movement pattern. It strengthens your legs, hips and back, and teaches these large muscle groups to fire in a coordinated fashion. The result is that you will be able to put more force into the ground. No matter what sport you play, your game will improve if you regularly perform this essential exercise.

You will see a few variations of the Deadlift in every weight room. Each variation accomplishes the same overall goal, but they have different wrinkles that may make one better for you than another.

Conventional Deadlift

With a heavy emphasis on back strength, it builds full-body strength and lower-body power. (Learn how to master the Conventional Deadlift.)

  • Assume athletic stance
  • Squat down and grasp bar with slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width grip
  • Position bar close to shins
  • Fully extend elbows, stick chest out and look straight ahead
  • Simultaneously extend hips and knees to stand up
  • Keep back straight and bar close to body
  • Squeeze glutes to complete movement
  • Repeat sequence in reverse to lower bar to ground
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x1-6 at 85-95% max; rest 3-5 minutes between sets

Sumo Deadlift

Its heavy focus on the hips makes the Sumo a great option if you want to run faster or jump higher. It's also easier to perform if you are tall and have trouble bending down. (Learn how to master the Sumo Deadlift.)

  • Assume slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width stance
  • Squat down and grasp bar with shoulder-width grip
  • Perform Deadlift adhering to proper technique outlined above
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x1-6 at 85-95% max; rest 3-5 minutes between sets

Trap-Bar Deadlift

This version is easier to perform if you are unfamiliar with the exercise, and it's recommended for female athletes.

  • Assume athletic stance in center of trap bar
  • Squat down and grasp trap bar handles
  • Perform Deadlift adhering to proper technique outlined above
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x1-6 at 85-95% max; rest 3-5 minutes between sets

Topics: DEADLIFT
Michael Palmieri
- Michael Palmieri is the president and founder of The Institute of Sport Science & Athletic Conditioning. He has lectured for several major organizations and associations...
Michael Palmieri
- Michael Palmieri is the president and founder of The Institute of Sport Science & Athletic Conditioning. He has lectured for several major organizations and associations...
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