No matter what level of lifter you may be, everyone needs to improve their technique. In this series, our top lifters send in video of lifts they need help with, and their teammates reply with some pointers.

First up is Adam Driggers' deadlift. The footage was shot at Orlando Barbell, owned by multi-class powerlifting great Brian Schwab. Dave Tate took the big trip down there and Chad Walker, Bob Youngs, Brian Carroll and Gabe Naspinski all made the (not quite-as-far) trip to Orlando in order to all train together.

Adam sent me some footage of his pull and we asked the sages on Team elitefts™ to weigh in on how he can improve.

Marc Bartley: Here is my take on things:

  1. Both raw and geared, he is too far from the bar at the start so he has to waste time and energy wrestling the bar in place so he can lock it. He needs to be closer, in my opinion,  even if he just moves in a inch or two.
  2. As a rip-it-off-the-floor guy myself, I think he is out of position there, too. When you rip, you are at the mercy of wherever the bar goes with the rip. If you rip right, it is great, but a lot of the time the rip is off and you are out of position and have to try to get the bar back to your center of gravity. Additionally, the ass is up first so he has to continue to fight to bring the bar back.  Anytime you are like this, it seems like a shrug gone wild as you try to pull towards your body.
  3. With his long arms, he should be able to decrease the pull by a inch or two before he does the drop-the-trap thing at the top for the lockout. Normally, to me, this is a lockout issue when you drop them at the end like that.
  4. Other things include; the usual rounded lower and upper back on both the raw and geared which could be a flexibility issue in the hams and hip or not as strong upper and mid back there and/or both. Sort of like when you go fishing and you catch a fish too big for the line. First thing that bends hard is the rod till it runs out of room, then the line stretches and either pops or barely holds on. If the line is stronger and the rod stiffer (stronger), then more weight can be lifted and the less chance the bar drifts too far away.
  5. Watch the bar at the start of the lift. It looks like he shuffles forward over the bar to get it going then starts pulling it back to get in in position. So again, a lot of wasted energy in the move instead of a direct line up.  You can see the force travel forward to the front of his feet then transition to the heels later. You can't fully utilize the hips and glutes here in my opinion
  6. On his raw warm-up, he pulled the bar fast but did the dip in the knees at lockout. Even on warm-ups you should practice squeezing the hips and glutes hard.

My suggestions, as I was hugely guilty of all of these, are:

  1. Ease the bar off the floor until it leaves the floor and then accelerate towards lockout. I tell guys to pretend they are going way past lockout so the body keeps applying speed and mechanical power to the movement. Do this on lighter work and focus on staying in position longer and then hauling ass all the way to the finish. If you don't, the body will automatically slow down at lockout  as the leverages get better.
  2. Work on some front hip and hip flexor range of motion.
  3. Squeeze the top part of the ass as hard as possible near lockout and through lockout.
  4. Do some heavier racks at knees working on acceleration and squeezing the top of the glutes hard. Make sure you are in position first and don't just rip and pop. Otherwise, this work wont help that much. This is a Steve Goggins favorite that worked for me a lot.

Mick Manley: It looks like he’s not in a good starting position, he needs to sit back a little more. Perhaps pulling with a shoe with a raised toe would help him sit back more on his heels.


Mike Stuchiner: I think Adam needs to get his dead up faster and get his upper back tighter. Also, when he pulls he should make a better effort to take the slack out of the bar.  I hope this helps.


Eric Maroscher: Let me begin with what is right, as there is a lot of correct lifting going on in the video.  Adam is really quick off the floor and regardless of minor form issues he is plenty strong.  I like the distance of his hands and feet from each other, as well as his shin distance from the bar and his toes being slightly out.  I also like how he holds the bar low in his hands toward his fingers, not in the middle fleshy portion of his hands.

I feel these humble suggestions would make this strong man even strong(er):

I would recommend starting his pull with his back at more of a 40-45 degree angle. Graphing his angle from the video he is 15-20 degrees at the start with his forehead facing down and his shoulders also rounded down somewhat. With his forehead facing upward and a 40-45 degree angle and his chest up, Adam is going to complement his speed and tremendous power with leverage and stability, thus making physics work for him, rather than against him. Lowering his rear at the start would help this process of bringing his head and chest up. You can see in his second rep how he rocks back and forth to build momentum to drop his rear and raise his head. His second pull is his best pull technically in that bar launches when he is in that position of greater leverage.

If Adam really wanted to go nuts, he could switch to the hook grip and knock almost an inch off of his travel distance.  Having said that, as a hook puller myself, the hook grip is not the most pleasant of adaptations one can implement to improve their pull. Not knowing Adam's routine, I would humbly suggest (if he doesn't already do these) adding weekly heavy shrugs and weekly (slightly above the knee) heavy rack pulls.  In my experience they greatly help when a weak point is keeping the head up and back at a higher starting angle/position. A couple tweaks turn this strong puller into a scary strong puller.

Lastly, any lifter willing to expose their form for others to openly critique for the sake of a better pull is a lifter who is capable of putting their ego in the desk drawer and that is a mighty impressive personality trait. Hats off to Adam for that alone. Being coachable, in my opinion, can be the difference between a good lifter and an exceptional lifter.

Hope these observations (based on just seeing three lifts of the thousands he has obviously performed) are of some benefit.


CJ Murphy:

  1. Pull the bar tighter in with the lats and take the slack out. Lats to the floor.
  2. LOAD the suit by pushing the ass against it and get the shins vertical.

On the raw pull, he really did an old school Brian C lower back pull. Use the hams/ass to lockout, not the erectors. Of course, Adam knows this. It’s really easy for me to tell him and much harder to do it in a suit.


Zane Geeting: I've got nothing. I mean, I prefer to see people pull with a flatter upper back and the shoulders pulled back and down, but honestly, it looks like what he's doing here is working well for him. I'd tell him to just keep hammering his upper back and glute strength and his pull will go up.


JL Holdsworth: There are several things that I see that would take your deadlift to the next level.  It looks pretty good but a few things that would help:

  1. You need to learn how to create tension in the bar as part of your set up. You get absolutely no tension without your suit on, and this is a big problem.  I don't even need to watch the video to know this as I can hear it. There is a distinct sound that the bar makes when it tings against loose plates. Yours is loud, and not what you want. Watch my video on my training log on how to set up and there is a drill to help this.
  2. You use your lower back to finish your pull.  It's hard for you to lock out pulls because you don't use your glutes. Now people are going to say you need to do rack pulls and stuff like that but the thing that will help you more than anything is working on your pelvic tilt. Your pelvic tilt is non existent at the top of the pull and this is killing your lockout. Your glutes are your biggest and best hip extensors you have and you are not using them.  Your lower back will not hip extend near as much weight.


Al Caslow: A few things that immediately stand out:

  1. I would like to see him be more efficient in setting up when in a suit. Load it by pulling himself into position.
  2. More upper back tightness while digging the chest up and butt down.
  3. Locked in drooping shoulders. Lengthen the arm and lock the boulder in so there is no rotation.


Scott Yard: I would tell Adam to hit his glutes hard weekly to get his hips into his lockout.  The bar gets way out front and he is using all low back and ham to lock it out. A good cheek squeeze at the top will ease up his deadlift.


Chad Aichs: First off, I love critiquing lifters when you have some of the greatest lifters even in the background like Dave Tate, Brian Carroll, Matt Wenning, and Brain Schwab!  I kind of have the feeling like, What the hell am I doing critiquing this guy?  Also, I want to say Brian's beard is fucking awesome!

Okay, here is what I see and I am a very critical of technique, I expect perfection even though it is unobtainable.  First off, I do not see Adam getting any air or pushing his belly out.  He may be trying to do that at the bottom before he goes but as wadded up as he is there is no way he will be able too.  I suggest getting a big breath and pushing the abs out at the bottom.  Second he needs to get up to the bar until it touches his shins, he is too far away from it.  I know guys like Ernie Frantz used to do this but Adam is letting the bar pull him forward and would be better starting with it next to his shins.  We do not see him set up at all, he gets down, messes around a bit and then pulls.  I do not see any set up.  He needs find his position and then arch his low back as hard as possible, like he is trying to make it cramp up.  Next he should tighten every muscle in his body except his arms, traps, and rhomboids (these stay relaxed to lengthen and shorten the movement).  Then Adam should pull the slack out of the bar by pulling his back, but not letting his hips down.  Then explode with the low back to start the movement.  This will generally feel like you going to fall backwards but the hips will be forced to follow through in one efficient movement.

When Adam starts the pull, his hips go up first and then his low back follows.  This essentially makes the deadlift two movements and makes a lot more work for the low back.  Adam also flexes his biceps which I do not recommend, as I've seen too many people pull their bicep that way.  Plus, like I said, a relaxed arm is longer and makes for a shorter pull.  It is hard to tell from that angle, but I am betting Adam is in a little forward or straight up position throughout the pull.  This, along with his hunched back, is making the top of the pull harder than it should be.  The deadlift is supposed to be about pulling the back backwards and the hips will follow, not about pushing through the floor or pushing the hips under you (please stop saying hips, hips, hips, it f'ing drives me nuts).  If you watch a good deadlift from the side, the lifter should look like they counter balance backwards against the weight.  I have seen many pics of Brian Schwab that show how it should look.  I am not sure what Adam has on the bar (655 or so, I think) or what his best is, but without getting any stronger and fixing his technique he can pull a lot more.  Not a bad deadlift by any means, but I see potential for a lot more, and I hate wasted potential!


Dave Tate: The first pull was very good. Notice the bar placement and shin angle. Also, notice how he pulls the slack out of the bar and keeps driving his head back.

In the second lift, look at the shin angle and bar placement compared to the first. Also, watch his head.


Brian Carroll: I think he could stand to LOAD the bar a little better and wedge more.  He kinda just drops, and his back Slinkies a bit, BUT the deadlift is very temperamental. A couple minor tweaks could take months to get used to!