Approaching Your Set-up


Written by Jay Stadtfeld for

When perusing videos on YouTube, you’ll frequently see people with bad technique lifting weight that makes it appear like their spinal discs are going to fly out of their spine. While amusing (and sometimes painful) to watch, you can stand to learn a lot of what NOT to do by watching them.

Much of the time, the weight is too heavy. Others it may be a technique issue. We’re going to focus on it as though it’s a technique issue in this article.

Your set-up can either make or break your lift. That should be no surprise to you if you’ve ever had an appreciable amount weight on the bar, and if you look at videos where technique is the flaw, you can trace it back to how they set up. Not enough air in the belly? Back isn’t locked and tight? Lats aren’t pulling? Any one of these (and many others) issues can predict your success and failure of a lift.

We can even take it a step further and use myself as an example. Let’s take a shot at my 485# deadlift in my recent meet.

Right away, my hips start too high and I’m too forward of the bar. This is something I’m really working on, but obviously it got the better of me here. As the lift commences, you’ll notice my head drop as though I’m surprised the bar came off the floor. Maybe I was. After all, I did fail 480 in training no more than a few weeks prior to the meet. The head dropping could be fixed by a simple cue of “Head up!” which was also yelled by some of the judges as this lift was going on. You may even be able to hear it. I was borderline laughing internally when they yelled it. This is something I have constantly in my head while pulling now, and it seems to help me from flexion of the spine and keeping tension on my hamstrings.

Due to the round back, that ends up removing some tension from the hamstrings. Thus making the pull more difficult than it should be. While it looks like I could handle a deal more than 485, technique still needs to be drilled in order for me to get to where I want to be.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas of what to look for in your training. It never hurts to gather the opinion/watchful eye of a coach, as well. They’ll often catch things you will not. Remember not to rush your set up, but fine tune it and make it concise. You want to be as confident as you possibly can be going into a lift with no account for error. Remember your cues, and go destroy the weight. After all, you wouldn’t want to succumb to “suck-itis”, would you?

Marianna from last weekend

PS: Celebration necessary after a PR at a meet. Use it. Thrive. Even if it’s reminiscent of the “Tiger Pump”.