The Monster Deadlift Post

DSC00015Gilly getting into set position.

In order to achieve the highest deadlift efficiency, the bar must travel the path from the starting position to the finish position in a straight line perpendicular to the floor. According to Mark Rippetoe, the correct starting position means: feet are flat on the floor, bar is over the middle of the foot, bar is touching the shins, the back is in good lumbar and thoracic extension, the spine of the scapula is directly over the bar (shoulders will therefor be slightly in front of the bar), the elbows are extended and arms are completely straight. This is the position from which to pull.

In Starting Strength (2007), Rippetoe writes that "it is common to confuse the starting position with the set position. The set position is where you try to put your hips before you start your pull, the action of setting the back angle immediately before you push the floor to start the transfer of force. Most people will take their grip, lower the hips into their set position, and begin the pull. This is accomplished with the greatest efficiency if the set position and the correct starting position are the same." In other words, the set position is the position from which many athletes 'think' they will start the pull while the starting position is the position they move into (from the set position) just before they begin actually pulling the bar off the ground. In the case of physiological efficiency, it is wasteful for an athlete to have a set position that is different from the starting position.

Many world class power lifters have pre-lift rituals that they perform as they get into their starting position to channel their mental focus. These rituals often involve inefficient set positions but get an athlete psyched up enough to attack the heavy weight. Check out this Youtube video of Benedikt Magnusson.  Can you see his set position? How about his starting position? Or, like me, are you mesmerized by his stockings?

Speaking of deadlifts, congratulations to Hollis who lifted 350lbs yesterday and PR'd by 20 pounds! Check out his achievement and pre-lift ritual/set position/starting position on the Athlete Achievements video link. Can you see the difference between the set and starting positions?

-Heather Mac

Do you have pre-lift rituals when you're going heavy? Post thoughts to comments.

Workout Deadlift 5-5-5-5-5 _____________________________________________________________________________________ Don't forget about the temporary holiday schedule. We'll be back to the normal class schedule on Saturday, January 3rd.

Also, come to the Holiday Rehab Party at the House of H on Sunday, January 4th at 1pm. A Paleo potluck to help us reset our habits for 2009. Email Hollis at to RSVP and for directions.