Back in the day, I was able to hit some pretty decent lifts (OK, WAY back in the day!). What I found was that if I missed a lift, that 90% of the time, it was something I did wrong right off the floor! What you do off the floor determines where the bar will end up in that crucial “explosion” phase at the top of the pull! It’s one thing to be able to deadlift a trillion pounds, but if you aren’t in the proper position at the finish to accelerate, then what good is it?
There has been some confusion lately about the proper pull off the floor, but really, biomechanics don’t change. Sure, different lifters have different body structure and different leverages, but overall, center of gravity is what it is, force production is what it is, and Newton’s Laws remain constant.
Here’s my take on the start position and how the first pull should occur. (Again, there might be some slight variances due to body structure, but we still want the bar to be over the area of balance as much and as soon as possible). It has been successful over the years and is very teachable for lifters and other strength athletes:
- feet shoulder width apart with toes straight ahead or slightly pointed out
- shoulders above hips, hips above knees
- back tight (chest out) but traps relaxed
- shoulders in front of the bar
- shins very close to the bar without touching
- bar at base of big toe
- arms hanging athletically straight, elbows turned out
- focal point straight ahead
- inhale boldly and hold breath as pull comes off the floor
LIFT OFF (from floor to bottom of kneecap):
- bar travels back toward middle of foot as soon as it leaves the floor
- legs straighten so the shins move back out of the way
- shoulders and hips rise at the same speed (back angle stays the same)
- shoulders stay in front of the bar
- back stays tight or arched
- arms still hanging straight with elbows turned out
- focal point still straight ahead
- holding breath to stay tight
- posterior chain must be strong to maintain this proper position
Since the start position doesn’t allow for the bar to be over the area of base (the shins are in the way!), it has to move back into position as the legs straighten. The lift off is a “leg” lift, while the back acts as a stabilizer. When this happens, it allows the bar to be in the correct position for that strong, explosive finish!