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How to Beat the Most Brutal Lift

The deadlift isn't just a physical challenge, it's also a psychological one.

Why? Well, first, because it's brutally tough. Second, because you have no idea what the load feels like until you lift it. Each rep starts from a dead point. Compound that with the fact that the bottom position is probably the weakest point in the lift and you have one tough job in front of you!

Because the deadlift feels so hard as soon as you lift it -- and it almost gives you a shock because you have to go from zero contraction to maximum force production -- making or missing the lift is often decided at the moment you start to tug on the bar.

A lot of people dig themselves into an even bigger hole before they even start the lift. You have to be in the right psychological mindset when attempting a deadlift.

3 Deadlifting Mistakes

1. Wasting too much time in the start position.

A lot of people get in the start position and wait there for 2-3 seconds. The problem is that this tires out the legs a bit and as a result you weaken the start of the pull, which is often the make-or-break point.

2. Waiting too long in front of the bar before taking the start position.

You'll see it often before a max attempt: the guy stands in front of the bar and just waits there. You can almost hear him think! Before a max deadlift attempt, THINKING is our worse enemy! The deadlift is a brutal, animalistic lift. Yes, technique is important, but thinking about technique before a heavy lift will screw you up every time.

3. Taking slow deep breaths.

Deep, slow breathing has a calming effect, which is the last thing you want before a max deadlift!

Recently, my client Jack (61 year old fireman who competes at The World Police and Fire Games) was doing all of these things and he missed a lift well within his capacities. I simply changed his approach to the lift:

A) No deep breaths. Before the lift, take short and shallow reps, almost as if trying to hyperventilate. While doing that, try to increase your level of inner aggression.

B) Start the lift 5 yards from the bar. When your inner aggression is high, decisively walk up to the bar without thinking.

C) As soon as you reach the bar, squat down in the starting position, aggressively grab the bar and pull. No thinking! It's a lift for brutes.

Did it work? Jack ended up breaking his PR whereas he had missed a lift 20 pounds inside his best 10 minutes before!

The deadlift is a psychological lift. It's like a battle: if you go in doubting yourself you'll get crushed. -- Christian Thibaudeau

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