I don’t think there is an argument to be had if I were to say doing deadlifts will make you stronger. I personally feel that doing deadlifts will also make you faster, but you might get some resistance on that by some people. Not many, but some.
I didn’t always utilize deadlifts though. I am big on the Olympic lifts and that was the center piece of my strength program for awhile. I felt that you could get strong and explosive using the Olympic lifts. I felt the deadlifts were a slower movement, which wouldn’t train the fast-twitch muscles correctly, and I didn’t want to waste my time doing it.
Ultimately, I changed my mind.
The biggest reason was it can take a longer time teaching the Olympic lifts as opposed to the deadlift. Consequently, I can get into some good training with the deadlift sooner than I can an Olympic lift.
Now what we do is keep the deadlifts in to develop the strength base of the athlete. We will then work in more explosive movements as the athlete gets stronger to transition into a fast twitch explosion.
There are different ways you can do a deadlift – a normal deadlift, a sumo deadlift, a snatch grip deadlift, etc. Here is how we have incorporated the deadlift into our training:
- If it is a higher rep phase (meaning 4 – 6 reps) which indicates a little lighter loads, then we do a normal deadlift with a straight bar. I want to teach them this form because I think it is a little tougher to hold the position as you get heavier. But, when all those muscles work congruently, you get a very good lift.
- If the athlete is in a lower rep phase (say 2 – 4 reps) which indicates a little heavier load being lifted, then I switch the athlete to a hex bar deadlift. What I’ve found with a lot of my athletes is that this position takes strain off my athletes’ lower back and they can stay in position a lot easier. Just about all of my athletes do not want to do a powerlifting competition. So, if I can have them do the heavier loads on the hex bar without compromising form, then I will.
- What we have started doing now with the deadlifts when they are getting close to starting their season are jump/shrug deadlifts. We lighten up the load and have them do their deadlift, but jump up as high as they can with a shrug. They have a dynamic power output that transfers great onto the playing field.
That’s it. We try to keep it simple for the athletes. If we were training athletes to be powerlifters, then it would be a different program. But, our main goal with the athletes is to develop as much power output as we can that will translate into speed.
It all depends on each athlete. If you have an athlete for a short period of time, then maybe we are doing the jump/shrug deadlifts immediately. But, if you have that athlete for a whole offseason (3-6 months), then we can do the whole onslaught of deadlifts I described above.
This is what I’ve found works best for my athletes. For your athletes, it might be different. But, feel free to steal this and see if it works well for you. If it does, let me know. Also, let me know if you altered some things and had some really great results. Then, maybe I can steal from you.