Everyone has something they can work on when it comes to the deadlift. For me, it’s the lockout portion of the lift. A way I remedy and train this weakness is by performing an exercise known as “rack lockouts”. Assuming you know how to breath properly and your form is on point, I’ll explain how I would recommend you perform this exercise. For you science nerds, I apologize for not breaking down every muscle that is activated in this exercise and how the temperature of the room can possibly hinder training results in the long-term. I write for the person that doesn’t have time to read 4 page long blog posts; the person that just wants to get it done!
Alright, enough with the nerd bashing. Here’s how you “lock it out”:
- Place a loaded bar on the safety bars of a power rack, or any other kind of rack, around knee level. The bar may actually sit above or below the knee. I use an old school squat rack and stand on a wooden platform to bring my knees up to bar level. My gym is not a part of the modern age, so I work with what I got.
- Take in a deep breath, tighten everything, and pull. The movement is very quick, so don’t expect too much excitement. This method will, however, allow you to load the bar up with a good amount of weight, due to the fact you’re only doing half the movement. I don’t know of anybody that doesn’t load the lockout with more weight than they can comfortably pull off the floor. This is one of the reasons it is such a great supplemental exercise. It primes your CNS for heavier loads down the road and allows you to strengthen the lockout portion of your deadlift with such loads.
- Do low reps with heavy weight. I only recommend low reps with heavy weight due to the universal fact that this approach builds strength. You can do higher reps, but I feel higher reps are better for muscle building and hypertrophy. If I was going for reps, I would just do a full range deadlift. I typically work up to a heavy single or a weight I can do for 3 sets of 3 reps. Choose your own poison.
Simple enough, huh? YouTube is flooded with videos on how to perform this exercise; if this wasn’t simple enough for you.
DISCLAIMER: Please check with your doctor before taking on an exercise, or related exercises, like the one presented. Also, find a good personal trainer to train your technique if you want to be 100% on it.