Deadlifts for MMA and Combat Athletes!

How to Deadlift, Deadlifting Techniques (Video below) – original post on Diesel Crew –

Message from Funk

Power is the number #1 strength aspect an MMA athlete must possess, if he/she wants to be a successful fighter. The ones that have the most power tend to rise above the rest.

Deadlifts are one of the best exercises to building power and strength in your hamstrings and glutes. You have to make sure that you have good deadlift form.

The deadlift also remains the most effective exercise for building the posterior chain, which is crucial for almost all physical movements in MMA. By lifting the weight off the ground you are using the posterior chain to lift the load in front of you.

In MMA when executing explosive movements like shooting for take-downs, delivering knee strikes, hip throws, sprawling to prevent takedowns, pulling your opponent to the ground, you must have a strong posterior chain.

Add the grip strength you will increase with this exercise for jiu-jitsu gi training and in the clinch and you have an exercise that must be included in your strength and conditioning training g in order to rise above and be successful combat and MMA fighter.
How to Deadlift

When I look to the best trainers for Powerlifting, Jim Smith stands above the rest. Jim is a co-founding member of the Diesel Crew (put this website into your favourites). Jim is certified through the (NSCA), (CSCS), (ISSA) he is a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) and the United States (USAW) as a Club coach.

Jim is also an expert trainer who writes for Men’s Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff. Jim has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and as a strength athlete for over 18 years. I always try to bring you the best of the best trainers on FunkMMA.

In previous blog posts on FunkMMA, Jim has helped us with Bench Press and Squat techniques and now he shares the GRAND-DADDY exercises of them all, the deadlift.
If you want to learn how to deadlift properly so you can develop power, strength and explosiveness, watch the video and practice the techniques weekly in order to master this movement,

How to Deadlift Video
Deadlifting is one of the best exercises (compound, ground-based movements) that you can include in your strength program. If deadlift form is done right, there are many benefits of the deadlift



Types of Deadlifts:
• Sumo Deadlift
• Conventional Deadlift
• BTR (Beyond the Range/Deficit) Deadlift
• Snatch Grip Deadlifts
• Suitcase Deadlift
• RDL’s (Romanian) Deadlift
• Trap bar Deadlift
Deadlift Benefits:
• to build strength and enhance power potential
• to add muscle mass to the entire body
• develop core strength and rigidity
• injury prevention, in everyday life you have to pick things off the floor
• confidence
• support grip strength
How to Build the Deadlift:
1. Good Form – First off, you have to deadlift with good form. If you form is off, it will lead to you missing the lift, typically right off the floor.

1. Form Check
2. Shins on the bar – You must make sure you are as close to the bar as possible. This shortens the distance between the center of gravity (COG) of the bar and the COG of the lifter. This is the most advantageous leverage position
3. Big Air – You have to catch a big air to increase your intra-abdominal pressure
4. Force Your Abs Out – This along with a big air will provide you with a natural belt to ensure your lower back and abdominals are braced and strong. This technique is further enhanced when you actually wear a belt because you’ll be forcing your abdominals out against a rigid object.
5. Do Not Jerk the Weight Off the Floor – Rather push the floor away after you develop a high level of full body tension.
6. Keep the Bar Against Your Body the Entire Lift – Again, maximizing your leverages.
7. Lockout With a Powerful Glute Contraction – Do not hyperextend your lower back, lock out your hips by forcibly contracting your glutes.

2. Are You Weak? – Make sure you develop not only your posterior chain, but your core strength, upper back musculature and grip.

1. Develop Posterior Chain – RDL’s, Stiff Legged Deadlifts, GHR, Reverse Hypers, Partial Range (rack lockouts), Beyond the Range (standing on plates or blocks)
2. Develop Core – Engaging in compound movements, L-sit pull-ups, medicine ball exercises, ab roller, the posterior chain exercise in part 1 develop the antagonist (to the abdominals) side of the “core”.
3. Develop Your Upper Back – pull ups, face pulls, seated rows, bent over rows
4. Develop Grip Strength – thick bar holds, rack holds, plate pinch, utilize double overhand (pronated grip) as long as you can while you’re working up on your deadlifts sets.

3. You’re Not Psyching Up! – To pull heavy you have to be mentally prepared. When you approach the bar you have to be ready to go.
Deadlift Considerations:

1. I’m Missing at Lockout – What should I do?
o Technique – finish with glute contraction, head forward, pull shoulders back
o Strength – incorporate more pull-ups, rack pulls, good mornings, reverse hypers
2. Knees Kicking In with Sumo Deadlifts – What should I do?
o Technique – force the knees out during the eccentric and concentric phases of the lift, “spread the floor”
o Strength – incorporate x-band walks, lunges, step-ups
3. I’m Missing Off the Floor – What should I do?
o Technique – create tension in legs, lower back AND lats before pulling, head up, push the ground away, try various foot positions, use wrestlers shoes
o Strength – incorporate beyond the range deadlifts, band resisted deadlifts, GHR

How to Deadlift the Proper Way

How to Deadlift the Proper Way Without Wrecking Your Back

If you’ve been on Diesel for any length of time you have been to our Training Center. If not, look to the right navigation bar and you’ll see a TON of cool information around many muscle building and strength training exercises and concepts.

One section in the Training Center is How to Deadlift.

It was awesome but it didn’t contain a very crucial piece. The analysis of how to setup on the deadlift. The deadlift is notorious as a back breaker in most peoples minds. When in fact, it is the poor execution of a deadlift, combined with poor mobility / flexibility, improper warm-up, poor core strength and many other factors that led to the acute or cumulative trauma.

I wanted to give everyone a quick, easy-to-understand, easy-to-apply setup for the conventional deadlift. It will give you the perfect setup everytime.
How to Deadlift Video

Here is what you’ll see in the video:
• conventional deadlift stance
• distance from bar
• hip placement / posture
• breathing
• tension, irradiation
• grip considerations
• concentric phase
• eccentric phase
• bracing, intra-abdominal pressure
• upper back engagement
• head posture
Here is a step-by-step setup guide for conventional deadlifts:
1. Setup with your feet shoulder width or slightly wider than shoulder width apart
2. Toes can be straight ahead or turned outward
3. Shins should be approximately 4-6″ AWAY from the bar
4. Grab the bar with a double overhand grip (until the weight gets too heavy)
5. Legs will be straight
6. Take a big breath and force your abdominals outward and hold
7. Drop your hips as your knees shift forward toward the bar
8. Create tension in your upper back and lats by squeezing your armpits and pulling your arms downward
9. Drive the floor away, keeping the bar against your body all the way to lockout
10. Once bar gets to your knees finish the lockout with a powerful glute contraction, finish in a straight line
11. Move hips backward, keeping the glutes and hamstrings on tension
12. The bar will move downward and once the bar reaches the knees, drop straight downward back to the floor

Another consideration I wanted to add to the Training Center was how a deadlift can be modified.

More Step-by-Step Details
Here are some simple, real world cues for setting up on the deadlift that can help you improve your technique.
1. The feet: Your feet should be placed approximately shoulder width apart, but it will be completely individualized. Even recently, just a small change in my own foot placement allowed me to keep more tension off the floor and get better leverage. Make sure your feet are flat and driving downward. If you drop your hips to pull and your ankles roll to the outside or the inside, something isn’t optimal. Change your shoes, change your foot placement, or maybe even improve your ankle mobility.

2. The shins: Your shins should start approximately 4–6 inches off the bar so that when you load into the bar, you can translate your shins and knees forward. This will allow your hips to drop into place and keep your lower back arched with appropriate tension. If you are too close to the bar, you’ll never be able to get the right line of pull or optimal leverage.

3. The grip: Your hands should be right outside your legs to minimize the hip angle and decrease the distance you have to pull. We always recommend pulling double overhand until your grip gives out. Then switch to a hook grip or even use straps. I usually don’t let my athletes pull with an alternated grip. Other deadlift grip considerations can be found at

4. The air: You must catch your air before the lift. This, along with a powerful isometric contraction of not only the abdominals but all of the muscles that surround the torso (anterior and posterior), will give you the tension to lift the weight with good form and protect the spine. With conventional deadlifts, I like to catch the air with the hips high before the drop so I can get the maximal amount of air in. Once the hips are dropped, you’re compressed (especially if you have a belt on), and you might be limited in your breathing.

5. The tension: Like previously stated, massive amounts of tension must be created not only across the quads, hamstrings, and glutes but also the grip and back. Remember, the more tension you can create, the stronger you’ll be and the more protected your spine and back will be. This tension allows your body to act as a single unit or one kinetic chain. One important tip for this cue is never forget the tension in the upper back. This is key to pulling it all together. You will immediately feel stronger if you can create tension across your back by squeezing the bar down and “flexing” the armpits, pulling the lats into the lift.

6. The pull: By driving your feet downward into the floor, the weight will begin its upward movement. Don’t allow your hips to rise too fast into a straight legged (stiff legged) position. As the bar hits the knees, a powerful glute contraction will lock you into a straight (line) torso position. This is a common error for most lifters who try and overpull after the bar crosses their knees and they move into hyperextension.

7. The return: Don’t lower the weight straight down. Instead, load the hamstrings and glutes with a Romanian deadlift movement back to the knees. Once it reaches the knees, move the bar straight downward back to the floor where you can stroke another rep immediately or come to a complete stop and reset completely before the next rep. The multiple rep technique where you touch the ground and go again should only be done if you’ve caught your air at lockout on the previous rep.

How to Modify a Deadlift
Beyond the Range – pulling through a greater range of motion (ROM) which helps accelerate through sticking points and is done by standing on an elevated surface. It can be either 100lb plates or a 4″ box.

Pulling Against Bands or Chains – forces the lifter to accelerate to lockout which develops greater end range strength and rate of force development (RFD)

Band Assisted Pulling – assists the lifter off the floor and should be setup to deload before lockout, allows supramaximal weights (great than the lifter’s 1RM) to be used

Change the Implement – varying a barbell, a trap bar, dumbbells, odd objects or an axle will modify the tension and leverage of the lift



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