Are you looking to lift as much weight as humanly possible?
If so, this style of Deadlift is NOT the style you’d want to use.
If you are though, wanting to minimize load on your back, develop amazing hamstrings and glutes, while developing a very natural and explosive power, then have I got a technique for you!
The Difference Between the Two Types Of Deadlifts
Similar to the squat, you can strike 2-3 basic poses (with slight variances) to initiate the pull of the Deadlift.
One of which is where the knees are very far back, as close to the heels as possible, and the other is more of a squat style where back is more upright and the knees are more forward.
What’s the difference?
There are actually two differences.
1) The power style deadlift is a shorter movement whereby the hips don’t need to move much because they are already set high.
2) The Olympic lifting style of Deadlift has a straighter back with the knees set a bit more forward at set-up.
In the Olympic style, the bar is closer to the mid foot or a bit further, and as the pull is initiated, the knees back up out of the way as the bar makes its way back to the heel.
Tommy Kono in his book “Weightlifting, Olympic Style” describes a slight “S” shape the bar makes as it makes it’s way up the body and over the head for a snatch.
Before I go on, I’ll show you a clip of my coaches wife breaking a world record using this style. That way you have a visual to reference.
Have a look at how smooth it looks, and how upright her back is on the initiation of the pull.
Does It Matter If The Bar Is Away From The Foot?
When doing a squat, it does matter for sure. However when doing a Deadlift, a huge focal point you’ll want to keep in mind is the alignment of the wrist, elbow and shoulder.
They must be in a straight line, and in some the wrist is closer to the body than the shoulder.
The reverse of that should never be!
And because of the knee being in the way, the bar is not on the heels until the clean (caught in front squat position), jerk or snatch have been caught.
Is One Better Than The Other?
To me, you can do either or. If you are unfamiliar with bracing the torso properly, it would not be a good idea to practice the power style deadlift.
Here’s a video of some awesome bracing tips (some cherish these as lifting secrets) for you if you would like to learn them.
One of the best bit of advice I received a long time ago was this. If someone gives you an exercise, ask your self why you’re doing it.
If you can’t answer, then you don’t do it.
Even worse, if the person who prescribed it cannot answer, that would be even scarier.
Let’s use the two styles of Deadlifts I have mentioned above as an example.
You’re my client and I am coaching you in Volleyball.
You say “Hey Aaron, I was taught the Olympic style of Deadlift and now you’re showing me the power style, how come you changed it?
I reply “Great question. Because your sport is primarily jumping up and down with your knees doing a lot of the work. I wanted to make sure the back of your thighs and your bum were as strong as your quads.
I also wanted to minimize loading onto your knees and the power style of Deadlift does that by keeping your knees as close to the heels as possible throughout the full lift.”
You’re my client and I am coaching you as you are a nationally ranked swimmer.
You: “Aaron, I was told to always keep the knees back as far as can while lifting. I’ve done the power style of Deadlift from day 1 and I am not sure I like this.”
Me: “I understand exactly how you feel. It’s hard to change, I know.
Remember, you are a sprinter in the water and the blocks and turns are where you can really win a race.
Now think about where your body is positioned on the turn? Can you see the bent knee that you use to push off the wall?”
You: “Yeah…I can”
Me: “Great!” And when you are in the starting blocks, would you want to have your bum as high as your shoulders with your knees not bent much?
Would this get you the power you want to explode off of the blocks?”
You: “I guess not. You’re right! I don’t set up in the blocks that high”.
Which Style Should I use?
Pick whichever style you enjoy the most or the style you may be using because you compete in that discipline.
I actually wrote this blog and made the video you can watch below to show you the style of Deadlift that feels oh so smooth!
This same style of Deadlift also minimizes loading on the back and offers a violent “whip” of the hips that is so effective to explode the bar up in Olympic lifting.
You can watch the video here.