How I Approach Deadlifting

by Sally Andersen

Anyone that knows me or has seen my Instagram (@vegansally) knows the thing I love most right now: deadlifting! I’m making strength gains almost weekly with the classic powerlifting move and, more than anything else, it’s a mental and emotional battle for me. Stepping up to the bar is stepping into a world where only me and the weights exist. I can either pick them up or I can’t. There’s no grey area, no drama and no b.s. It’s me versus them.

In person, I will always help people out with their form and deadlift with them to encourage and motivate them. But here’s 3 of my deadlifting secrets that I haven’t yet revealed to anyone: how I approach the bar emotionally, mentally, physically.

1. GET EMOTIONAL: Research shows that expressing emotion increases your strength. Which is why people often scream, grunt, yell, cheer each other on, etc. I pump up my emotions with good music. Right before I go in for the lift, I start a song that I know gets me going right from the first note. Some favorites right now are Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse”; Rob Bailey & the Hustle Standard’s “Try ‘n Hold Me Back”; Muscle Prodigy’s “Silence Is Golden”, and Guns -n- Roses’ “Paradise City”.

2. MENTALLY PSYCH YOURSELF UP: I coach myself through each and every deadlift I attempt. I give myself cues for proper form: “open your hammies”, “tighten your core”, “stay connected to the ground” and add some motivation to: “only you can find the strength to do this right here right now. No one but you. Find it! You’ve got this!” I love using straps because the time it takes to wrap them on the bar is time that I am spending in my head, focusing on connecting to the bar, becoming one with it.

3. SET YOUR FORM: I never walk up and go right for the grab. I take my time to place my feet at the width I like, step my shins close to the bar, set my hands just outside my knees, and so on. Once I’m there, I fire up my hamstrings. If you see a video of me deadlift, you’ll see me do this. I raise a lower my butt, waking up the muscles and mentally connecting to how they feel and how to focus my attention in on them.

Now go lift something heavy and have fun doing it!

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