Grip Dip Hip Lip

The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.(Judges 14:6)

That verse only applies to today's  post in that it's an insane feat of strength. Much like Samson tearing a lion in half, a monstrous dead lift requires some intense endunamoo [strength]. So today we're going to break down some simple technique on the standard dead lift.

Most dead lift situations can be broken down into four stages. Grip, dip, hip, lip.

When you prepare for your lift you need to assess the most important part. I don't care who you are, nobody can say that the grip of a dead lift is not the most crucial part to it being successful. There will be nothing else to improve if your able to hold the bar through a lift. The two standards of the lift are flip grip and hook grip.

The flip grip, which I use, is where you have the palms of your hands facing opposite directions when you approach the bar. Usually your dominant hand will be palm out and your recessive hand will be palm in. I've heard some people say it's the other way, but personal experience says otherwise. What other people do doesn't matter though. What you need to do is find how you're comfortable with holding the bar. By flipping your wrists you're creating a torque between your hands that improves how much weight you can hold in your hands. This can cause some imbalance in muscles and should be paid attention too. I had someone the other day tell me that you should alternate how you flip your hands to balance everything out. Personally I think you would save your technique and rhythm a lot of problems just by making sure to include auxiliary lifts for the shoulder girdle. You wouldn't throw away a computer because you got a virus, so don't throw away how your body moves a weight for an imbalance.
This is your daily dose of being a man

The hook grip is something I wish I could do, but alas I am not man enough to conquer. Hook grip requires some practice, mentality, and a good set of meat mittens to do. To hook grip you wrap both hands with palms facing inward. You first wrap your thumb, then you enclose it with the rest of your fingers. Holding the bar like this will allow you to have both shoulders sit posterior in the socket. The torque and friction is more distal as well, putting more of the load in the hand. I heard someone say that during the Olympics lifters come from all over the world with many different styles and techniques. The only thing they all have in common is the hook grip. This allows me to bring up that this grip is ideal for doing heavy oly work.

Something I'll say before moving on that I hope everyone knows is that you always make sure your grip is even.

Here is where I will get some controversy from people and I'm okay with that. We're talking about a conventional dead lift, where you hands are outside of your feet. The drive is more quad and glute activated than the sumo pull. If you've ever watched the Olympics you can see that the lifter usually sinks their hips before activating the lift. The butt drops and then they rise just a bit. The dip portion prior to a pull can help you activate your bodies elastic potential. It is theorized that we normally use elastic potential in muscles and tendons to be more efficient at every day movements [1]. However it has been noted that the elastic recoil of a muscle can contribute to it's overall power. Like when a toad goes to catch something on its tongue; the toad coils his tongue up and then rockets it out [2]. In practical theory when we sink the hips lower and then raise up for the pull we have created this reserved force. Watch the Discovery channel or National Geographic when they have a nature special. A cheetah coils up before it darts out to kill, naturally using elastic potential.
3 step stretch reflex

I'm gonna eat you

You have your hands on the bar you've sunk your butt and are about to pull, now what? You have to not focus on picking the bar up, but rather pushing your feet through the floor. The closer the bar is to your midline, the middle of your body, the more force you can generate due to better angles. It is not only okay to grind your shins, but actually is preferred. I have a six inch bald spot and scar on my shins from constant ware. Remember that we're doing traditional pulls and that Initial pull will be primarily from the quads, these will be primary movers until over the knee cap. Once the bar is riding up the quads we should begin pressing the hips anterior, forward, to help with the lock out. A good way to help this is by squeezing your butt, this will force you to hip and lumbar flex. Don't exaggerate the flexion at the top though, as this can lead to strain problems.

If you've ever seen someone dead lift a burly amount of kilos then you know a yell has to happen for the lift to be complete. During the whole lift you hold in air with a valsalva to create intrathoracic pressure. Once the lift has peaked, that catacomb of air must be released. From the bottom of your stomach let out a manly roar and induce a temporary strength gain for anyone within hearing distance. My only stipulation is that once you're done being awesome you don't turn into that guy. Set the weights down like a gentleman. If you can man handle the weight up then you can man handle the weight down. I'm not saying never drop the weights, but when you're lifting with plates that aren't bumpers you're not meant to slam them. Whew, got that off of my chest.

So the next time you feel like moving something heavy think grip, dip, hip, lip, and be like Samson.


  1. Masaki Ishikawa1, 
  2. Gert-Peter Bruggemann4 (2005)
  3. Muscle-tendon interaction and elastic energy usage in human walking
  4. Lappin AKMonroy JAPilarski JQZepnewski EDPierotti DJNishikawa KC. (2006) 

    Storage and recovery of elastic potential energy powers ballistic prey capture in toads.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.