The following is from page 168 of Musclemag, December 2007:
The Grateful Deadlift
Accelerate anabolism with this must-do exercise–your muscles will thank you
by Tim Rigby, MA Photography by Jason Breeze Model: Andre Rzazewski
Although pulling a weight off the floor to your thigh level is a rather simple concept, no other movement encompasses the simultaneous power output of so many muscles within your body. This requirement of synergistic efforts makes the deadlift the king of all compound movements. The amount o foverall mass you can develop through the deadlift is unparalleled. Keep in mind that to lift the heaviest poundages, your power must originate from recruitment of the legs. That's why many weight athletes consider the deadlift to be the “upside-down squat.”
Good positioning is tantamount to successful heavy lifting. By lining up every part of your body in the correct position, you eliminate any weak linnks from spoiling your chain of movement.
Step 1: Approach the bar with your feet perpendicular to the bar or slightly turned out for the best biomechanical position.
Step 2: With your shins as close to the bar as possible, stick your butt down low so that your quads are parallel to the ground.
Step 3: Grip the bar at shoulder width using either a pronated grip (shown here) or an alternate grip to prevent slippage.
Step 4: Your legs should be just inside your forearms.
Step 5: Keep your arms stiff–they are there as meat hooks and should not be used for pulling.
Step 6: Tense your traps and keep them tight throughout the whole movement. These muscles will lead you to verticality.
Step 7: Keep your head (and eyeline) at a level just above parallel to the ground, but be prepared to tilt it back during the lift.
Step 8: Lat involvement is crucial, but your arms should not make any sort of pulling action whatsoever.
Any physics teacher will tell you the most difficult part of a lift like this is breaking gravity. The inherent friction of the weight on the floor causes this obstacle. Since your legs are your most powerful muscle group, they must take the lead in getting the weight in the air.
To maximize the deadlift's potential for generating anabolism systematically, you'll need to integrate the form requirements at each step of the lift. Go slow and learn the steps properly, and in time you'll have established the right mind-muscle connection to do the deadlift automatically.
Step 1: The lift begins with an explosive press of your feet into the floor. You should respond immediately to the pressing action.
Step 2: Your butt will raise, and you'll feel the stress on your back.
Step 3: Once you get the bar off the ground and generate some upward momentum, you begin to activate the upper and lower back muscles for an intense pulling action.
Step 4: Keep your arms fully extended and stiff. Resist the urge to pull the weight with them.
Step 5: Maintain tension in the traps–they are your anchorman in this tug of war.
Build, build, build the momentum! Squeeze every last bit of power you can out of your quads as you transfer the empahsis of the pull support to your back. This process should not be slow or deliberate–conjure up images of a snap, a jolt, a yank or a whip, and concentrate on speed. You can rest when you're dead, so in themeantime we insist you focus on completing the lift of this particular dead.
Step 1: As you reach the halfway point of raising the weight, focus on locking out your legs. You've already completed the toughest part of the lift, so you must focus on sustaining the momentum just a little longer.
Step 2: Tighten your abs for core support (and to fry your ab muscles) as the transfer of tension surges from your legs through to your upper body.
Step 3: Lead with the lumbar. Thurst your back, starting with the lower portion and ultimately pulling hard with the upper as you approach verticality.
Step 4: Pull your traps back as forcefully as you can to round out the inertia.
Step 5: Tilt your neck back and initiate a backward motion, bringing you–and the barbell–toward an upright position.
Hallelujah! What a glorious feeling you'll get upon completing this lift with hundreds of pounds. But don't just stop your body from moving when it appears the weight can't go any farther. Make sure to pull every involved muscle group back as far as you can, including rolling your traps and keeping your neck high. You can really round this movement out to squeeze every pulling fiber in your upper body and get an isometric benefit too. If you can feel the exhaustion of taxing so many muscle groups, take comfort in the fact that you have lit the fire for growth hormone production and excellent all around muscle growth!
Leave your ego at the door
Suck up your pride and start with a relatively light weight to perfect your technique. Don't be surprised if this skill development takes a couple of months. Because of the full-body involvement in doing the deadlift, you will be more vulnerable to injury than during most other exercises. While powerlifters use very heavy weights for sets of 3 to 5 (to build extreme strength), bodybuilders should use an appropriate weight for 6 to 8 reps for comprehensive muscle growth and maximal growth hormone production.
Step 1: With your body now erect, shift your focus on rolling every upper body part back.
Step 2: Make sure the bar is as high off the ground as possible (resting against your upper thigh).
Step 3: With your legs locked, try to stand as erect as youc an with your back straight and your traps rolled completely back. This position will ensure every muscle used int he lift has gone through the complete range of motion.
Step 4: Keep your chin and eyes up and hold the lockout for a slight pause to get the full isometric benefit before lowering the weight.