How to Brace Your Lats for a Monster Deadlift

Create the tension you need in your back for a tremendous effect on your pulling power.

In the deadlift, a common error is failing to brace the lats effectively. As the lift starts, the lats are pulled around and down, creating a rounding of the shoulders and upper back. This shift in position creates a weaker, more difficult lift and adds significant injury risk to your back and its surrounding muscles.

3 Pitfalls in the Deadlift

If you fail to brace your lats in this way, you will notice three distinct faults:

  • The bar drifting away from your body. The weight will feel heavier as it is no longer close to your centre of mass.
  • A more difficult lockout. It becomes harder to use the glutes to push the hips through as your body is shifted out of position.
  • Hitched lifts. Hitching occurs as you try to pull your shoulders back to complete the movement. This puts more stress on both your biceps and upper back.

To prevent these faults happening, you need to create the tension you need to brace the torso more effectively. You can achieve this through placing an increased focus on what your lats and traps are doing. Here’s how.

How to Brace Your Lats for a Monster Deadlift

Firstly, address the bar and find your start position. Imagine corkscrewing your elbows into your body. You’ll feel your lats engage and your torso begin to brace. As you perform the lift, you should feel a noticeable difference. This is because your back is supporting you properly rather than rounding, sloping forwards, and working against you.

To summarise:

  1. Address the bar.
  2. Find your starting position.
  3. Corkscrew your elbows into your body.
  4. Contract the tension it creates.
  5. Keep tight and finish strong.

A Word of Warning

You don’t want the shoulders to be pulled back when focusing on the lats. The shoulders should stay fairly neutral, so you’re not adding to the range of motion the bar has to travel in. You should feel the shoulders are stabilised and supported, with the lats activated and engaged, ready to create tension for the lift. They shouldn’t feel retracted, high, or tight.

Following these steps will create a solid torso to achieve a monster deadlift.

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Teaser photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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