During July 2015, I was fortunate enough to join Eddie Hall, Britain's Strongest Man and Deadlift World Record Holder, for a deadlift session.
To put the size thing in to perspective, I'm 5ft9" 13stone 4lbs. Eddie's 6ft3" and a little over 26stone here...and he's gaining weight!!!
What I like most about Eddie's deadlift is that he's simplified his conventional deadlift to achieve perfect technique and go from a 400kg deadlift to a superhuman 463kg deadlift world record. While none of us will ever lift anywhere near this, we can learn from Eddie's methods to improve our own deadlifts in the gym.
One very simple thing that Eddie states is to ensure that the bar travels in a straight vertical line to make the lift as efficient as possible. He practices this by placing tape on the floor in line with the bar and plants the middle of his feet on the tape (NB: Your foot position may be a little different, depending on your make up). He also uses my new Deadlift Deadener™ load distribution product; it's designed to avoid damaging the floor and gym equipment, but as a by-product it also encourages a straight vertical lift through the sagittal plane of the Deadlift Deadner™.
Something else, and it's something that I've never heard before, treat the deadlift like a leg press. Hold on to the bar as though they're handles on a leg press machine and then leg press the ground away from the bar; this sounds rather bizarre, but it helps achieve the best deadlift body position of retracted shoulders, a neutral spine and a good angle at the knees and hips.
Here's Eddie to explain these things himself in the following video...
There's probably a couple more issues that I should address, as I will likely be asked about them...
First, head-position. You'll note that Eddie keeps his end in line with his torso (neutral). Many of the biggest deadlifters keep their head neutral during the deadlift. Some may prefer to keep their head up. Provided you have the correct body posture, as noted above, it doesn't make too much difference - it's whatever your preference is and what works for you.
Second, the use of lifting straps. When Eddie broke the Deadlift World Record there were some grumblings in the powerlifting community online that he was using straps. I might add that none of these grumblings came from anyone lifting anywhere near the same weight. Also, as many others have pointed out, straps are allowed in strongman deadlift. One thing I'd never question with a strongman is their grip-strength, it's generally something they're renowned for. I still asked Eddie about this, and he followed by repping out on 260kg with an over/ over grip and next to no chalk. For those that have tried an over/ over grip without straps, it feels like the bar's rolling out of your hands. Anyhow, world records aside, let's talk about straps...
...I feel that many general trainers become too reliant on the use of lifting straps and this is to the detriment of their grip strength and general lifting ability. If grip is a weakness, work on it! Like you would with any other aspect of your training, hopefully. An example where you might use them: if you're pushing new limits and/ or if it's a limiting factor, you might then stick them on to strengthen the weak link and increase confidence and avoid injury. The same goes for belts and other supports, in my opinion.
Here's something else you should check out: Powerlifting legend Ed Coan gives many deadlift pointers, including position (hands, feet, hips, etc), in the following video with Mark Bell and Silent Mike at the Super Training Gym:
If these aren't information enough, here's a very good video courtesy of Colin Bryce, the main man behind Strongman here in the UK, in which he interviews powerlifting legend Andy Bolton. Andy was the first man to deadlift over 1000 lb and I've always very much liked his straight-talking no-nonsense advice. Here, Andy goes through some of the key steps we've mentioned:
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Thanks and best regards,