The Deadlift will make you strong. Period. It’s a simple movement, but second only to the Squat, the Deadlift is the best exercise to build strength in the muscles you need to improve your vertical jump. Back, core, hamstrings, glutes, grip, and forearms are all directly targeted with this lift and are all crucial to a higher vertical jump.
The Posterior Chain is the group of muscles, tendons and ligaments that need to be trained for improving your vertical jump. To put it simply, it’s your lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Deadlifting will strengthen your posterior chain allowing you to apply more force and power into your jump.
Like the squat, the deadlift has a bad reputation. ”Isn’t that going to hurt my back?” No, not if you lift with proper form.
Deadlift = Strength = Dunk
Benefits of Deadlifting
No other lift will strengthen your whole body faster than the deadlift. Your posterior chain will get seriously strong, prepping you for plyometrics and helping you to jump higher.
Back - If you’re currently or plan to start squatting. Your legs will not be the weakest link in the deadlift. Since your hips start higher than the squat, when you start the lift, the weight tries to bend your back. Keeping your back straight and tight builds massive back strength.
Legs and Glutes – Although probably not the weakest link in the lift, your legs will get tired after only a few heavy deadlifts. After you learn the lift and start adding weight, your deadlifting max will likely be higher than your squat max. This heavier weight will make your legs and glutes strong.
Grip - Although hand size can help you palm a basketball, grip strength is very important. Once you start lifting heavy weights, grip strength will be the limiting factor in increasing your deadlift.
Types of Deadlifts
There are two main techniques for the deadlift. Majority will use the conventional method. This is what’s shown in the picture above. Your hands and arms will be on the outside of your legs. The other technique is called the sumo style. Sumo deadlifting is spreading your legs wide and keeping your arms inside of your legs.
A few other variations of the conventional method are the stiff legged deadlift, 1 leg deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, romanian deadlift, trap bar deadlift, and deficit deadlift.
To reach your full potential and quickly increase your vertical jump, use the conventional method. The sumo style may allow you to lift heavier weights by minimizing your range of motion, but for building strength nothing beats the conventional method. Once you are deadlifting 2x your bodyweight, you may consider mixing in snatch grip deadlifts, or wide grip deadlifts, to further increase your range of motion and push your posterior chain to the limits.
Setting Up for the Deadlift
To deadlift all you need is a barbell and weights. It helps to have shoes with hard soles, or go barefoot. When the weight gets heavy, chalk can be helpful if you are having grip issues. You don’t need gloves, straps, a belt or any other fancy equipment. These will actually slow down your progress.
- Stretch and warm up properly. Lifting won’t help you jump higher if you get injured!
- Set the weight at mid shin level. Set the bar on boxes or stacked plates if needed.
- Get ready to jump, your feet should be that same distance apart.
- Step up to the bar. Looking down the bar should be lined up with the middle of your foot.
- Set your grip so that your hands ill clear your legs during the pull. The bar should be at the base of your fingers, not in your palm.
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar.
- Get your chest up, look forward, shoulder blades should be over the bar, make sure your arms are straight.
Mark Ripptoe teaching the Deadlift set up.
Performing the Deadlift
- Take a big breath, keep your chest up.
- Put your weight on your heels, wiggling your toes can be helpful.
- Push with your heels. ”Squeeze” the bar off the ground.
- Keep the bar very close or touching you the whole way up.
- Squeeze your glutes, make sure your abs are tight and your back is straight.
- Lock your hips and knees to complete the pull. No need to shrug or pull your shoulders at the top.
- Unlock your knees and lower the bar back down following the same path as the pull. Push your hips back until the bar clears the knees, then bend your knees to set the weight down.
- Release your breath and relax.
Mark Ripptoe helps you learn how to deadlift properly.
Important things to Remember
Warm Up Properly – Warming up for the deadlift not only help prevent injury, but it also helps you lift more weight and make faster progress on your vertical jump.
Start Light – If you have never attempted a deadlift, or you just learned how to deadlift correctly, start with the empty bar for a few sets. Even if you’re a deadlift expert, please start at low weights and slowly increase until you reach your work set weight.
Don’t Round your Back – The fastest way to injury yourself is to round your back during the deadlift.
Don’t Hyperextend your Back – While not as bad as rounding your back, over extending is also a problem. If you need help, take a video or ask someone to watch you during the lift.
Chest Up – Keeping your chest high and full of air will solve your problem of rounding your back. This is the best way to prevent back injury.
Head Forward – No need to look up or down. Keep your head and neck neutral looking straight ahead throughout the lift. This automatically helps with keeping a straight bar path.
Solid Core – Squeezing your glutes and tightening your abs will take the weight off your back
Bar Close to the Body – Throughout the lift, the bar should touch or almost touch your shins and legs.
Elbows locked – Don’t try to tear the bar off the ground. That will result in torn muscles.
Don’t Raise your Hips until the Bar Clears your Knees – Raising your hips early puts unnecessary torque on your back, likely causing it to round resulting in injury.