Deadlift Progression

A drawing highlighting the muscles worked when deadlifting.

Learning how to deadlift is one of the most important exercises you can master in the weight room.

It’s not so much the exercise itself (although it is a great exercise), it’s the fact that it properly trains you to work around a braced and stable core via your hips.

This is obviously super important in wrestling.

So, while it does strengthen your hamstrings, promote incredible core stability, and increase your grip strength, the deadlift is also great for training your body how to better use your hips around a braced core.

Anyway, there are two ways I like to teach the deadlift.

Progression 1- Kettlebells

The first, is to teach someone using Kettlebells, and then progressing to a bar on the floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I could just as easily start with a bar and training plates (5-pound plates the size of 45-pound plates).

But, I like to start with Kettlebells.

I’m not sure what it is, it just seems to work better.

Maybe it’s because it’s less intimidating, especially for someone new to lifting.

Instead of lifting a bar with big plates on either side, you’re just picking up a small Kettlebell.

This is also a great option for a wrestler new to lifting who’s gym doesn’t have training plates or bumper plates.

Progression 1- Pin/Block Pulls

The other way I like to teach the Deadlift is with the top down method.

If I find a wrestler is having trouble getting into the proper position when the bar is on the floor, I have them start with Pin Pulls or Block Pulls.

Basically the idea is to perform the pull with the bar elevated off the floor a bit to help you get into the proper position at the bottom.

And here’s a heavy one off pins:

This is back when a few of my buddies and I used to deadlift on Friday nights.

What a fun time!

Anyway, as you become comfortable with bracing your core and keeping it braced, you can start to lower the height of the pins or blocks until you’re able to pull off the floor.

Once you’re there, this is what it should look like:

And here’s an example of a heavier deadlift:

This was shot back when I wasn’t as big of a proponent of belts. However, now I always suggest wearing a belt simply because I think it really helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Once you have mastered the Deadlift you can try other alternatives. However, I typically just stick to the standard, off the floor Deadlift and, in my case, pulling from a deficit (standing on a couple of mats).

As far as deadlifting for wrestlers goes, I prefer wrestlers use the Trap Bar, but if you don’t have access to one, the straight bar version is totally fine.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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