Block Pulls to Improve Deadlifts5/8/18
Deadlifts are awesome. They pretty much do everything when it comes to attacking the body. Deadlifts are extremely taxing on the nervous system as well because of the full body engagement to perform the reps. The purest and most popular mindset with deadlifts is “pull heavy and pull hard”.
With that being said, many people want to have a pretty heavy deadlift pull. It is hard to say what constitutes for a “heavy pull” because what is heavy for one person might be a cake walk for someone else. So, the focus needs to stay on you and your personal goals and not worry about what the next guy is doing.
There are numerous methods out there to increase a deadlift. Maybe the most effective way to increase one’s deadlift is to safely overload from time to time. Overloading is going above and beyond either your 1RM or a certain rep count for a certain amount of weight. Maybe the most popular way to safely overload for a deadlift is block pulls.
Block pulls are simply an elevated deadlift. The bar is about 1-6 inches higher than normal, either set on blocks or plates. By taking out some of the range in the rep, the user can do 1 of two things: put more weight on the bar than they usually would if they were pulling from the ground or add more reps or sets to their usual deadlift routine. Either way would constitute as overloading.
Block pulls are seen by many professional lifters as being more effective than rack pulls (which are also elevated) because the slack remains in the bar throughout the lift as opposed to a rack pull where the bar slams on the rack taking the slack away. If you are looking at really going after some heavy weight, especially for reps, keeping things as natural as possible is key to mimic a deadlift from the ground.
When setting up to the bar you want to make sure you are a little closer to the bar than usual because your shins will naturally be more vertical than when pulling from the ground. Hips need to stay elevated and not down, so you can drive up through the legs and back more. This really attacks those sticking points for many in their deadlifts from the ground. As you get stronger with the heavier weight, you can slowly lower the elevation closer and closer to the ground, making the pull more difficult because the range in the lift is increased.
A good rule of thumb is in a 12-week lifting block of deadlifts, maybe every 3-4 weeks give yourself an overloading session. Remember, this can be either adding more weight or more volume (more reps to a set or more sets to a session than usual).