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7 Tips for Dominating the Deadlift

Bodybuilder-strongman Stan Efferding dishes on his best form tips for developing a king-sized deadlift.

1. Grip
I use a mixed grip as it’s the most universally stable grip. If you have big hands or more specifically, long fingers, you can try an overhand grip but most people just can't hold heavy weights that way. I never use straps but it’s not uncommon for good lifters to warm up with them to save their grip for heavy pulls. Others will use straps when doing reps so the grip doesn't become the limiting factor. Research shows that using a mixed grip instead of an overhand grip can help you get an extra rep or two when training.

2. Foot Spacing
Yes, this matters. Some coaches and pros insist on particular foot spacings as being optimal. When I asked the legendary Ed Coan for advice on deadlift, he told me he would have to see me grip the bar. What he meant is that everybody is shaped differently – arm length, torso length, leg length – so it’s hard to know what your best position is until you grab the bar and start lifting and analyze your own leverages. That answer prompted me to fly out and train with Eddie. Most people perform deads with a narrow stance. As I gained weight I had to start adjusting my stance outward a bit.

So my general answer to this type of question about foot position on deads and squats or hand position on bench is to train a variety of different widths and over time you will settle into the stance where you are strongest. There's no one-size-fits-all approach.

3. Breathing
For powerlifting, I always take in a huge breath and hold it just before I lift. This creates intra-abdominal pressure that allows me to explode like a coiled up spring. Conventional wisdom is to exhale upon completion of the lift but I always tend to exhale immediately after breaking inertia on the deadlift or after exploding up from the bottom of a squat. Just listen to any of my YouTube videos and you can easily hear where I begin exhaling. I’m not quiet about it!

4. Coordinate
When I lift, I’m not thinking about my hips or my low back or this or that – I’m thinking about keeping everything tight and using all of my muscles together to pull the weight. I activate the core, legs, glutes and back all at once when initiating the lift.

5. Depth
The depth of your glutes on the deadlift is based on your own body mechanics as mentioned earlier but generally speaking you want your legs at 45 degrees so your back, glutes and quads are all activated when initiating the pull. Go too deep and its all legs. Go too high and it’s all back. Some great deadlifters like Michael Koklaev squat way down before lifting but if you look where his hips are when he actually applies tension to the bar, they form 45-degree angle with his legs and back.

6. Head
People tend to differ in their head position for the deadlift. I keep a neutral head position. It's never a good idea to exaggerate the bend of the neck.

The deadlift is not a golf swing. It shouldn't be over complicated. Some technique is good in order to avoid injuries while learning how your body responds to the forces but over time, once you're able to control your core, its really about brute strength. That's what I love about the lift, you just have to man up if you want to pull really big weights. Most people fail mentally.

7. Miscellany
The deadlift is not a golf swing. It shouldn't be over complicated. Some technique is good in order to avoid injuries while learning how your body responds to the forces but over time, once you're able to control your core, its really about brute strength. That's what I love about the lift, you just have to man up if you want to pull really big weights. Most people fail mentally.

Stan “Rhino” Efferding is an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder and World Record powerlifter. Stan is known as the “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” and is one of only six men in history in any weight class to have ever totaled over 2,300 lbs raw in competition which he did at the age of 45.

 

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Whether you're new to the body-building scene or a seasoned veteran it's doubtless that you've been offered advice on just about every aspect of body-building. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what is best, most effective, and proper. However, if you've been to a gym lately you've seen that although they "know" what is best, they don't look anything near an Arnold or Ronnie. This article is going to try and dissect 15 of the most common body-building myths.

Myth 1: Creatine is a steroid

With ESPN's anchor's ranting 24/7 about steroids in baseball, a wave of steroid-phobia has swept across the country. Tell a lot of people you use creatine and they'll get a serious look on their face and warn you about how dangerous it is. Totally disregarded is the fact that creatine is a naturally occurring substance, produced by their own bodies and found in meat. The simple fact is, creatine is not a steroid.

Myth 2: One or two beers on Friday won't do anything

The truth is that alcohol has an incredible impact on your body, especially its ability to build muscle. Consumption of alcohol lowers your testosterone (in men) and causes severe dehydration. If you're going to be serious it's best to just leave drinking behind. If that's not possible then try to keep the drinks to a minimum and drink as much water as possible.

Myth 3: Instinctive Training is the Best

Instincts are great in many of places, the football field, the car, the bedroom… However, don't bring using an instinctual approach to weightlifting will most likely cause less than optimum results. To achieve optimum results requires a strict diet and if good diets were instinctual, weight wouldn't be the issue it is today. A scientific approach to bodybuilding will promote optimal gains.

Myth 4: Professional Bodybuilders know what is best

They have freakish builds with a combination of immense size and extreme vascularity. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this is more the byproduct of gifted genetics and steroids than the discovery of the Ultimate Workout Program™. The truth is the workouts of the pros should be left to the pros (along with steroid use). It would help instead to listen to the advice of people with actual credentials (other than being freakish).

Myth 5: A 'pump' is the sign of a good workout

Everyone likes the feeling of a good post-workout pump. Your muscles feel bigger and look bigger (one of the reasons you started working out in the first place) but does this you just had a good workout? The answer is no, as a good pump is not necessarily indicative of an effective workout. To prove this to yourself, go pick up a weight you feel is light and curl it for 30 minutes. Feel that blood rushing to your biceps? Good. Next myth.
Myth 6: Do a thousand sit-ups a day for washboard abs

If you can't see your abdominal muscles and you've been working on them then the problem is with your overall body fat percentage. (Keep reading, the next myth is extremely related).

Myth 7: I can target an area to reduce fat

As much as many infomercials would like to have you believe, there is no way to eliminate fat from one particular part of your body. To see those abs that you've working on you need to lower your overall body fat percentage. Try watching your diet more vigorously and doing some more cardio.

Myth 8: Certain exercises target certain parts of a muscle

The main determinant in the shape of a particular muscle is genetics. It isn't possible to develop outstanding peaks on your biceps if your genetics won't allow it. Next time you hear someone telling you to do a certain type of curl to develop a particular aspect of your arm follow these instructions.

1. Smile and nod.

2. Walk away.

Myth 9: My body-type isn't meant for body-building, I can't gain muscle

Regardless of your body-type it is still possible to gain muscle. To pack that muscle on your ectomorph frame requires a high caloric intake and dedicated lifting. If you have excess amount of nutrients available to build muscles and stress your muscles by lifting heavy you will build muscle.

Myth 10: I'm eating like a horse and lifting regularly, I'm still not gaining weight.

You aren't eating enough. Try adding 500 more calories into your diet each week until you start seeing gains. If you're trying to maximize gains then don't be afraid to put on a little fat, but keep your diet strict to minimize fat gain.

Myth 11: Doing too much Pec work will cause gyno

This is pure and utter nonsense. Working out your pecs will cause muscle growth. You aren't going to be growing any feminine boobs from the bench press.

Myth 12: If it is in an article it must be true

The internet is a great thing because it allows people access a huge amount of information. However, the bane of the internet is inaccurate information. If you've been to any bodybuilding websites then you know I'm talking about, articles and message boards chock-full of inaccurate information. The point is, be careful who you're taking information from (make sure it's a reputable site).

Myth 13: Supplement labels tell the truth

"Wow, so if I take this I'll be able to lift 20% more?"

No. you won't.

If a supplement seems to be making outrageous claims then it probably is.

Myth 14: Supplements are required

There are several things required in bodybuilding; a strong work ethic, dedication, and a will to push your body past its normal limits. However, supplements are not required. As proof, go check out some of the older bodybuilders. Supplements can be helpful in making gains but in the end the gains are made through hard work and not some chemical formula (of course if you're on steroids you're going to get huge lifting just about anything, probably even your fork to your face).

Myth 15: You must lift everyday to experience gains

Lifting everyday is not required for anyone. In fact, in many cases lifting everyday will cause overtraining. Overtraining will lead to an injury will lead to an injury which will keep you from lifting at all. Go ahead, lift everyday, I dare you. Seriously though, many people are successful lifting everyday and many are successful lifting 3 times a week. What works best for you might not work the best for someone else.