Baystate Barbell puts a huge emphasis on getting stronger, and one of the best ways to get stronger is to deadlift. It seems that the majority of the weightlifting community is usually focusing on squatting, while not paying as much attention to deadlifting. Weightlifting is a pulling sport and we treat it as such.
First, the explanation on how Baystate Barbell trains the deadlift. Typically, the team deadlifts twice a week with at least 72 hours between the deadlift days. The athletes do not use an alternate grip when they deadlift. However, they do use straps. The athletes focus on keeping a flat back, using a double overhand grip, and moving their hips and shoulders off the ground at the same rate. An emphasis is placed on teaching the athletes to stay over the bar until the barbell has passed their knees. The athletes focus on pulling with speed and always try to make the deadlifts mimic the actual lifts, as best they can. A slow, rounded back deadlift will have zero carryover to the snatch and clean and jerk.
On the team's current training cycle, the athletes are deadlifting on Tuesday and Saturday. Their sets will be between 3-5 and the rep range will be between 3-12. Some of the variations used include the clean grip deadlift, clean grip deadlift from a deficit, no hook deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, sumo deadlift, paused deadlifts, deadlifts from boxes, etc. The variations will differ from athlete to athlete. Also, it has been my observation that deadlifting is a surefire way of increasing the back squat and the front squat. The athletes squats increase at a much faster rate when they are deadlifting.
The Baystate athletes do not “bounce” the barbell while deadlifting. "Bouncing" eliminates the first 1-2 inches of the deadlift and the first 1-2 inches of a snatch pull or clean pull is critical. Some of the athletes will lower the barbell to the ground in a controlled manner and reset before performing another rep, while other athletes will lower the barbell to 1” above the ground then perform another rep. One of the main “cues” the team uses is “Slower down, Faster up.” Both ways focus on performing the eccentric part of the deadlift slower than the concentric. Most strength athletes will only perform the concentric portion of the deadlift and forget about the eccentric. At Baystate Barbell, the team feels as though that is a mistake. By performing a controlled eccentric, the athletes are increasing the time under tension and reducing the chance of injury.
One of the main reasons the Baystate athletes use all different variations of the deadlift is muscular balance and muscular imbalance. Some of the most common imbalances the team sees is between the deadlift and back squat. Ideally, the conventional deadlift (alternate grip) and the sumo deadlift should be 5-10% more than an athlete’s back squat. The clean grip deadlift should be equal to the back squat, while the snatch grip deadlift should be 90% of the back squat. For example, if one of the athletes can only clean grip deadlift 90% of their back squat, we know that particular athlete has to strengthen their pull. An abundance of posterior chain accessory work including RDL’s, good mornings, etc. would also be included. Also, if there is a muscular imbalance such as the one discussed above, the athlete has a higher likelihood of suffering an injury. The Baystate team tries to identify and correct the imbalance before an injury occurs. We are always making sure that the strength ratios listed above are where they need to be.