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The 5 Most Useful Deadlift Cues

I really like the deadlift. 



While I’ve transitioned from powerlifting to focusing more on hypertrophy, I still deadlift heavy. Why? Because I prefer it. 

The deadlift is such a satisfying lift. 

Although I’ve been deadlifting seriously for nearly ten years, there are still some cues that I mentally undergo in my head as I perform this exercise. 

Below, I share my five favorite cues that I still use today. Some employ evocative metaphors that make them easy to recollect and all are quite useful in ensuring you do the deadlift accurately. 

In case you’re in search of an in-depth guide to the deadlift, try this comprehensive article. 

To Set Your Back Right: Point Your Booty Hole on the Wall Behind You; Squeeze Oranges in Your Armpits

To maintain your back strong and secure during a heavy deadlift, you should maintain back extension during its setup and execution. Whenever you deadlift with a rounded back, you increase the possibilities of injury.  

Setting and maintaining your back in extension might be hard when bending over to grab a barbell. It’s not something that comes naturally. I picked up two cues from Barbell Logic owner Matt Reynolds which have helped me accurately set my back in extension through the years: point your booty hole on the wall behind you; squeeze oranges in your armpits. 

“Point your booty hole on the wall” jogs my memory to maintain my hips up. Whenever you point your booty hole on the wall whilst you’re bent over and grabbing the barbell, it’s going to naturally put your lower back into extension. 

When Matt coached my then 10-year-old son Gus on deadlift, he played to his 10-year-old boy mentality and told him, “Imagine you’re going to have diarrhea. Point your butt in order that the diarrhea sprays all around the wall behind you.”

Gross? Yes.

But it surely worked. Due to that cue, Gus knows get his lower back into extension. 

“Squeeze oranges in your armpits” is a cue that jogs my memory to maintain my chest up through the setup and the lift. I just imagine I’ve got an orange in each armpit, and I would like to maintain them there through the lift. For some weird reason, that cue helps me lift my chest, which helps maintain back extension through the deadlift. “Chest up” never worked for me, but “squeeze oranges in your armpits” does. 

If it feels uncomfortable, you’ll know your back is ready in extension accurately. It should feel tight in your lower back. 

To Prevent Knee Caving: Shove Your Knees Out to Your Elbows

In case your knees are likely to cave in through the deadlift, then as you arrange, tell yourself, “Shove your knees out to your elbows.”

Besides stopping knee-cave, shoving your knees out so that they touch your elbows will put your legs in external rotation, allowing you to bring your adductors into the deadlift. The deadlift just feels higher while you shove your knees out. 

To Prevent Jerking: Pull the Slack Out of the Bar


One in every of the problems I’ve had through the years with the deadlift is that I’ll work quite a bit to get into an excellent setup, only to let that setup loosen up right before I start to tug the barbell off the bottom. 

To counter that deadlift mishap, I tell myself, “Squeeze the slack out of the bar.” 

Squeezing the slack out of the bar means pulling on the bar by extending your back and straightening your arms and wrists. Whenever you squeeze the slack out of the bar, the plates don’t leave the bottom, however the bar should feel heavy in your hands. You may even see the bar bend a bit as you squeeze the slack out of it.

Squeezing the slack out of the bar helps me maintain proper setup as an alternative of letting things loosen up right before the lift. 

To Keep Your Arms Straight: Use Your Arms As Towing Straps

A typical mistake I see people make when deadlifting is that they’ll attempt to actively pull the bar with their arms. You don’t pull the bar together with your arms, within the sense of bending your elbows and pulling such as you’re on a rowing machine or doing a pull-up. Any bend in your arms will likely be pulled straight as soon as you are attempting to lift the barbell; in the method, a few of the work of lifting the bar will likely be lost on this straightening that might have higher contributed to the lift. Bent arms will even cause you to vary position barely as you begin the pull.

To maintain your arms straight throughout the lift, imagine that they’re towing straps. As you arrange, take a lot of the weight of the barbell into your hands together with your arms straight, creating tension against the barbell. With the barbell secured to your static arm “straps,” lift the barbell by raising your upper body. 

To Start the Deadlift Right: Push the Earth Away With Your Feet

While the deadlift is taken into account a “pull” exercise, a useful cue to execute the lift properly is to also consider it as a push. Once I’m able to pull the barbell off the bottom, I feel, “Push the earth away together with your feet.” An analogous cue is “Leg press the earth together with your feet.”

Starting the deadlift with a foot push will extend the knees, supplying you with some help out of your quads. Starting your deadlift with a push movement will even be sure that your bar maintains a straight up-and-down path, making for a more efficient lift.

I at all times feel stronger when I feel of my deadlift as a push as an alternative of a pull. Give it a try. Possibly you’ll, too.

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