Written by Brandon Lilly
Team Juggernaut is home to some of the strongest deadlifters in the World! With 7 deadlifters having pulled over 750 pounds in competition, TeamJTS is a wealth of training knowledge. Check out these tips and tricks from Team Juggernaut.
BUILDING STRENGTH OFF THE FLOOR
Brad Little: For strength off the floor I feel nothing builds power like high rep Olympic squats and chain suspended Safety Squat Bar good mornings. The squats build the core, quads and lower back like no other exercise I have ever done. The good mornings should be down with a SSB suspended in chains putting your torso and legs at nearly a 90o angle in the bottom position; a one-rep max should never be tested.
Dan Green: For strength off the floor I prefer to consistently pull for reps in the 1-5 range from the floor
and especially reps from a deficit of 3-4″.
Eric Lilliebridge: I’ve always incorporated some type of abdominal exercise into my training that hits both the lower and upper abs and I can tell it has helped me stay tighter off the floor and has helped overall with my speed.
-Leg raises lying on a bench with hands tucked back behind head or grabbing onto the bench. You can work it harder by using ankle weights. Hits the lower abs very good.
-Decline sit ups hit your core all around and you can also use a dumbbell putting it on your chest or a weight behind your head to make the exercise harder and build more strength.
-I like to wear my belt up higher as well for the deadlifts because I don’t feel it doing anything for me when I wear it lower. I have it up high right about where your four upper abs are. I feel like it keeps me more erect off the floor and I can really drive hard into the belt with my core which allows for even better floor speed and puts me in a better position to pull.
Chad Wesley Smith: Defecit Deadlifts while standing on 3” blocks are my go to for building strength off the floor. You don’t want to use too high of blocks because it will put you into too odd of a starting position. Reverse band deads, as well as pulling against bands/chains will also teach you the importance of applying maximum force right away in your pull, because if you don’t you won’t have the momentum to overcome the increasing weight as you approach lockout.
BUILDING STRENGTH AT LOCKOUT
Brad Little: My favorite exercises to build lockout power would have to be old school barbell lunges and glute bridges. Lunges, if done right, are one of the best exercises for lower body that I have ever found. Glute bridges may turn some heads but a fact about deadlift lockout is most people don’t know how to fully activate their glutes! My glutes are not big by any means, but I still have a powerful lockout. This is because I know how to activate my glute and when to make them work. These can be done on any lower body day.
Dan Green: To build the hip strength specifically needed to pull well sumo AND to build lockout strength I find block pulls with the weights on 4″ blocks to be awesome. I typically aim for triples here.
Eric Lilliebridge: I like to incorporate heavy back accessory work into my training to help with my lockouts. I feel like these exercises have definitely helped my lockout a long with making it a faster and smoother transition once the bar gets over my knees.
-Upright rows with a barbell or on a cable machine, these really hit your traps hard and you will feel it at the top portion of your deadlift when you’re pulling/driving the weight back and will feel over time that these will allow you to drive the weight back harder and faster.
-Barbell bent rows, I like to normally do these without straps using a deadlift bar to help work on grip, but if you really want to maximize your mid/low section of your back strength you might want to use straps for a couple of the last heavy sets since it will allow you to use heavier weight without worrying about your grip. These will build up your back strength like no other. You will feel it both off the floor and for your lockout.
Chad Wesley Smith: Glute bridges and deadlift hyperextensions are great accessory movements to build the glute and hip strength necessary to lockout big weights. I’ve never used rack pulls, but am not an advocate of them because they put you into an unrealistic starting positition for that point at the pull. The most important thing you can do to have a strong lockout is to build strength and SPEED off the floor because that will carry you through to a strong lockout.
THOUGHTS ON DEADLIFT TRAINING
Dan Green: My general approach to pulling is to work up to a target set of reps pulling from the floor and then work up to a top set of reps with the 4″ blocks. This really builds the sumo pulling strength. But I also like to finish with a set of conventional reps to build the hamstrings and back. I usually do a set of 3-6 reps from a 4″ deficit to finish my deadlift sessions. Also, for a change of pace I will occasionally pull for a max against bands to really feel explosive and to challenge my grip.
As for grip strength, I find that just performing this relatively high and frequent volume of deadlifts works well, provided I don’t allow myself to be greedy and attempt reps that I’m not certain I’ll complete–failed reps reinforce bad technique and strain the body’s ability to recover far more.
I’ve generally followed this system every week without needing to take breaks or deload.
Brad Little: In general I feel most people need to simply do more deadlifting than specific variations. Simply deadlifting straight weight off the ground with varying weights and reps built my deadlift. I do speed pulls and wave band tension through some cycles, but nothing beats loading weight up and just pulling it. I do feel that pulling heavy isn’t needed every week. If I am peaking for a meet I will sometimes only deadlift every other week. This is during cycles
that I train at a higher percentage. Speed pulls are a great way to work technique and work best when done
after heavy squats or during deloads weeks in my opinion.
Eric Lilliebridge: My deadlift training is very basic and simple. I like to think of it more as like a pyramid type set up. Instead of adding weight/dropping reps each week, I just keep adding weight each workout and stick to pulling heavy singles. Pulling for reps before has always burnt out my lower back and I never felt recovered enough for when it came time for me to do heavy squats. I alternate my squats and pulls every other week, so I’m squatting and deadlifting twice a month. This allows me to train both of those lifts hard and gives me plenty of recovery time before I’m going through that movement/lift again.
All of my “heavy” training is based around meets. I find a meet that I want to do and I back track 7 weeks out from the meet. The week
To give an example of what this would look like, let’s say your goal weight for the meet was to deadlift 700lbs. From there you start back tracking and these are the numbers I would choose if this were me training for this weight. The last heavy pull before the meet I would work up to around 675lbs, a heavy weight close to your goal weight but should still be fast and smooth. 2 weeks before that work up to 650lbs for a single, and 2 weeks before that (the first deadlift training day) start with 625lbs for a single.
The warm ups sets are all depending on you and what kind of jumps you like to make. But the most important one is the final single because that is what’s going to peak you perfectly to attempt your goal weight at the meet. So it would look like this, workout #1 work up to 625lbs, workout #2 work up to 650lbs, workout #3 work up to 675lbs, then meet day 700lbs. Over that period of time you gradually increase the weight for each workout. In-between these deadlift workouts would be your heavy squat days, so between deadlift workout #1 and #2 is a full 2 weeks before you’re pulling again.
SUMO DEADLIFT TIPS
-One of the best sumo tips I can give it to keep the bar as close to you as possible. Letting the bar drift away from you simply makes a pull harder. The closer the bar is to your center of gravity the more control you will have over it and this is often looked over with sumo deadlifting.
-Keep your knee directly over your ankle at the bottom position of
-Many people know about using baby powder on their legs to make the bar glide easier, but I have found the armpits create a ton of friction. I use baby powder on the insides of my arms and arm pits before my last 2 attempts at every meet.
-Learn to push your hips through as soon as the bar passes over your knees, this will make your range of motion much shorter and the entire deadlift much more efficient.
Spread your knees as hard as possible while breaking the bar off the floor.
Maximizing the effectiveness of your deadlift suit is a must when competing in gear. Check out some more tips from Brad about how to do that…
-I have found that wearing a suit that is slightly looser in the hips but cranking the straps really helps off the ground.
-When getting your straps set always arch hard. You want your arch to be locked in to minimize lumbar rounding during the pull.
-Starting position is everything with a geared deadlift. You should practice form more than anything else and really focus on starting the same every time. If you struggle at the bottom start with your hips slightly higher and the straps cranked with a bit of a neutral positioned back. If lockout is your weak point you should learn to start with your hips lower and your back as close to the locked out position as possible. This will make pushing your hips through much easier.