The Deadlift gives you lots of bang for your buck—whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain or simply being a hulk. However, many lifters butcher the exercise. It's hard to watch all the bad form out there.
That said, here are my three best tips to deadlift more weight.
1. Externally rotate your shoulders
Many lifters start their Deadlift with a poor upper-back setup. Not keeping your upper back tight can cause excessive rounding of the back and increase the force on your spine. Externally rotating your shoulders keeps your back in proper alignment. When you hold the bar, think about twisting your arm inward, pointing your elbows toward you and shoving the pits of your elbows forward. This engages the lats and allows proper transfer of force via stabilization of the thoracolumbar fascia (a bunch of tissue attached to the lats and pelvis.)
Try this right now as you read this. I guarantee your upper back will feel a lot tighter.
2. Push the floor away
This simple quote can help improve your Deadlift: "Chuck Norris doesn't do Push-Ups, he pushes the earth away."
It's natural to think of pulling the bar up when you perform a Deadlift. But that's not the way to do it. Instead, think of driving your feet into the ground and pushing the floor away from you. This helps you maintain full-body tightness and use more leg drive instead of using your lower back to lift the weight.
This form tip will not only help prevent injury, it might even increase your Deadlift numbers. Learn more exercises designed to build your Deadlift.
3. Minimize time at the bottom of a setup
One mistake many lifters make is taking too long at the bottom of a setup. This prevents you from taking advantage of the stretch reflex, which could help you lift more weight.
The stretch reflex is a contraction that occurs when you stretch a muscle. A quick setup and descent allows you to quickly lengthen and shorten the muscle, generating the "stretch reflex."
Another disadvantage of taking too long is losing air, which can reduce full-body tightness. Losing tightness can reduce your ability to move heavier weight.
Take a big breath in, then take 10 to 15 seconds to set up at the bottom. You are pretty sure to lose some air, because you can't hold your breath that long.
My setup usually takes 3-5 seconds, max.