Ask The Trainer #157 – Best Deadlifting Stance

Ask The Trainer #157 - Best Deadlifting Stance

QUESTION:

I was wondering what you think the ideal distance should be between your hands and your feet to generate the most power in a dead-lift? I see some bodybuilders taking a wider stance and wider grip, while others have more of a narrow stance and have a fairly narrow grip. I’ve been experimenting with different hand and foot placements, but I can’t seem to find my sweet spot so that I can surpass my current dead-lifting PR which is 385 lbs. Thanks.

Darrin


ANSWER:

Hi Darrin. When I go to the gym I notice that most novice lifters fail to utilize the proper hand and foot positioning to generate maximum deadlifting power.

To be clear, I’m specifically talking about people I see performing a conventional deadlift; not sumo style. Many of these individuals tend to instinctively begin their lift with a very wide stance.

I believe they do this because it creates less distance between their torso and the bar. Therefore, they don’t need to reach as far down. When people begin with a wide foot stance, they almost always begin the lift with a wide grip on the bar as well. Mechanically this isn’t the strongest position for your body to generate the most force when pulling a barbell off the ground.

Ideal Foot Spacing

The ideal stance for a conventional style deadlift should be with your feel spaced apart at about the width of your hips. Mechanically, this will help you generate the greatest amount of power. If you pay close attention to world-class powerlifters, you’ll notice their stance is always nearly equivalent to the width of their hips.

That’s why a powerlifting champion like Andy Bolton will begin a conventional deadlift with a wider stance than say, Ed Coan. Andy Bolton’s hips are much wider than Ed Coan’s. Therefore, his stance needs to be wider to generate maximum power.

Ideal Hand Placement

The same thing with the placement of the hands. If you’ve got wide hips, then you’ll need to take a wider grip so your hands don’t drag across your thighs or hips as the bar is coming up.

At the top of the movement, your hands should be as close to your outer thighs as possible without actually touching them.

Your grip width should be in line with the widest point of your stance. In order to have the greatest advantage, use a grip that allows the bar to travel the least amount of distance to the lockout position.

This means if you’re being observed from the front, your arms should be hanging straight down from your shoulders so they’re parallel to one another. In others words, your grip is going to be relatively narrow.


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How To Find The Best Grip

Just as an experiment, pick up a barbell with your hands no more than shoulder width. Take note where the barbell is sitting on your thighs at the top of the lift. Then, try it again with your hands several inches wider than your shoulders. Once more, take note where the barbell is sitting on your thighs at the top of the lift.

You’ll clearly see that when you hold the bar with a narrower grip, it will sit down a couple inches lower towards your knees.

However, when your arms are fully extended with a wider grip, the bar will be a couple inches higher. Therefore a narrower grip means less distance for the bar to travel from the floor before reaching lockout.

Believe me. Several more inches of pulling distance is extremely significant when you’re attempting to hit a new PR!

Wear The Right Shoes

It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re deadlifting in running shoes or tennis shoes it will actually increase the amount of distance you have to pull the bar.

Experienced powerlifters understand this and will generally wear deadlift slippers or even wrestling shoes. This way there is very little material between the bottoms of your feet and the floor.

I hope this information helps answer your question. If you implement these simple tips, I have a feeling that you’re going to be deadlifting well over 400 lbs. in the very near future!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,

Chad Shaw

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