WSBB Blog: Fix Your Deadlift Weakness

WSBB Education
Tue Aug 17, 2021

Tags: Hamstrings, Grip, Conventional Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most simple exercises in execution, but addressing weaknesses in the deadlift can become complex. When you are building a Conjugate Method program, your efficiency and program effectiveness will depend on your ability to build main exercise and accessory schemes that constantly address lagging muscle groups. Below we will cover a few common places lifters miss deadlifts, and give a few tips so you can correct the issue.

Missing Off of the Floor 

When you have an issue with missing deadlifts off of the floor, the issue will be one of two things: an issue with form or an issue with strength. Form can become an issue off of the floor if the lifter is not properly dropping their hips and maintaining low hip elevation when initiating the pull.
At Westside, we suggest sitting into your deadlift to properly elevate the chest and get the shoulders behind the bar. This will place you into position to maintain a neutral spine posture, and will also put you into position to get the most out of your leg drive. If form isn’t the issue, the issue is almost always glute and hamstring strength. Your ability to generate power from your glutes and hamstrings will have the most impact on how quickly you are able to pull the bar off of the ground. 
To properly address these weaknesses we recommend deficit deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, and goodmornings when choosing your max effort lower main exercise. Accessory work should include Romanian deadlifts, Dimel deadlifts, heavy bent over rows, hamstring curls, GHR, inverse curl, and reverse hypers. When performing accessory work, the deadlifts and rows would be done at a higher intensity with low to moderate volume. The hamstring curls, GHR, and inverse curls would be done at a moderate intensity with higher volume being the focus.

Missing at the Knees 

One of the more frustrating spots to miss a deadlift at is the knee level. You get good bar speed going off of the ground, feel like the lift is going to go well, then suddenly you don’t have the strength to continue. When this happens the weakness can almost always be attributed to a glute, low back, and mid back weakness. Once your hamstrings and glutes get the bar moving, it is up to the glutes to begin to work with the low and mid back to elevate the torso and continue the lift. Unless the bar got out in front of you during the pull off of the floor, this issue is almost always a strength issue. 
To properly address these weaknesses we recommend 
rack pulls, mat deadlifts, and goodmornings for your ME lower main exercise. These lifts would be done at a high intensity, and for low volume. Accessory exercises would include GHR, inverse curls, and row variations performed at a moderate intensity for moderate to high volume. 

Missing at Lockout

Missing at lockout can almost always be blamed on one of two things, weak glutes or a weak grip. When attempting to lockout a deadlift you are attempting to bring the pelvis “through” to properly lockout the torso and complete the lift. If you have a glute weakness you will fatigue during the first two parts of the deadlift, and end up stalling when attempting to lock the weight out. A good way to identify this weakness is if you begin to shake when the bar is halfway up the quad. The other issue that will cause you to miss your deadlift is a weak grip that fatigues over the course of the lift. This is probably the most frustrating place to miss the lift, considering you will typically have the weight near lockout when this weakness manifests itself. 

To properly address the glute weakness you will want t
o follow a strategy similar to those listed in the missing at the knees portion of this blog. To address grip issues you will want to begin doing direct grip work. This means doing heavy holds for time, using different barbells of varying diameter to challenge grip strength, and reducing or removing the use of straps during deadlifts and accessory exercises. Training grip is easy, constantly do things that challenge your grip strength.