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Deadlift and pull up [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 5, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Deadlift and pull up

Deadlift and pull up

Deadlifts and pull-ups are a good combination in a program to develop your entire back. Avoid doing them in the same session. Dips are a better candidate to be combined with the deadlift.

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What is your why 


Before we go into the details of the deadlift and pull-up let me ask you a couple of questions:


  • Why do you want to deadlift?
  • Why do you want to do pull-ups?
  • Why do you want to get stronger?
  • Why do you want to pack on muscle?

While these questions might some trivial to you they will make a big difference to your results. Life will get in your way. You will get injured, your job and family will want attention and you will get fed up at some stages. If you have no strong desire to keep committed to your goals your fitness plans will fall apart. Most people think about their goals in this fashion:


  • What do I want
  • How do I get it
  • Why do I want it

With this thought structure, you will always be in a reactive mode to your daily moods and desires. The worst expression of this is an addiction. There is no long-term structure or happiness in addiction. Just the focus on the next fix which gradually grows and becomes harder and harder to satisfy. If you want to be happy in the long run you have a bigger chance of success when you turn your thought patterns to:


  • Why do you want something
  • How do you get it 
  • What do you need to do

This way your thoughts and actions will always touch base with your innermost desires and feelings. You will be happier and have a purpose in life. This will also affect the people around you. Overall, achieving your goals becomes easier this way. To understand this on a deeper psychological level read Daniel Kahneman's excellent book thinking fast and slow. If you are not convinced yet look up Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle.




The deadlift is one of the most iconic exercises in the gym. It is an expression of raw strength and power like almost no other barbell movement. Together with the bench press and squat, it forms the sport of powerlifting. Olympic weightlifters utilize it to increase the speed with which they can pull lighter weights off the ground. Crossfitters like to test it in different WODs. Most famously the deadlift ladder which was also featured at the CrossFit games. When the word deadlift is uttered most people think of the conventional deadlift. There are more variations than this one.


  • Kettlebell deadlifts
  • Deadlifts with chains
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Deadlifts with bands 
  • Sumo deadlifts 
  • Trap bar deadlifts 
  • Deficit Deadlifts 
  • Rack Pulls 
  • Block Pulls 
  • Deadlifts with wagon wheels 
  • Hack squats 
  • Halted deadlifts 
  • Romanian deadlifts 
  • Snatch grip deadlifts
  • Mixed grip deadlifts 
  • Hook grip deadlifts 


The options are endless depending on your style and training. The deadlift mainly trains your quads, hamstrings, lower back, and traps. The emphasis is on the back of your body rather than the front. To perform a good deadlift follow these steps: 


  1. Place your midfeet under the bar 
  2. Grip the bar in a mixed or hook grip 
  3. Lower yourself to the bar 
  4. Breathe out 
  5. Brace
  6. Turn in your elbows as if you squeezed lemons in your armpits
  7. Be patient off the floor
  8. Make the bar bend
  9. Initiate the pull by pushing the floor away from you
  10. Pull the bar up and towards you 
  11. Pop your hips forward
  12. Squeeze your glutes
  13. FInish the lockout
  14. Put the bar down


One of the main debates on the internet is to keep your back straight during the deadlift. I personally find that this queue does not work really well to protect your back. Getting tight, avoiding to jerk the bar off the floor and being patient off the floor naturally straightens your back. Following these steps will set you up in a secure and strong starting position. If you want to learn more about the deadlift look into:


  • Ed Coan
  • Eddie Hall
  • Juggernaut Strength
  • Calgary Barbell
  • Supertraining06
  • Ben Pollack
  • Frank Duffin
  • Kabuki Strength


The two sticking points in the deadlift are at the ground and at lockout. If you fail the lift at the bottom you are not strong enough to move the weight. This can be based on a lack of strength or the ability to create tension. If you fail the lift on the way up it is usually due to lack of technique or aggressiveness. The limiting factor to the deadlift is your grip. This is where it usually fails first. The longer it takes for you to get the weight up, the more likely it becomes that you fail the lift. 


The sumo deadlift gives you a shorter range of motion but better leverages off the ground. The conventional deadlift gives you better leverage off the floor but a longer range of motion. The common gospel is that lifters with relatively long limbs compared to their body do the conventional deadlift. If you have relatively short limbs you might want to opt for the sumo deadlift. 


The biggest advantages of the deadlift are that it builds raw strength and primal instinct as it is such a heavy and simple movement. You will find no other barbell move which fits that bill as good.


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are that it can be bad for your lower back and that it is not explosive. The deadlift just did not lend itself to bodybuilding like training. You will far better with the sumo deadlift are a machine. If your aim is to pack a better punch you also might look into the power clean or clean instead of the deadlift.




The pull up is one of the most solid movements for bodyweight strength. It is easy to learn and can be almost done anywhere. Just get a pull-up bar into your home and you are ready to go. With the surge of calisthenics and CrossFit, the pull-up and its variations gained popularity in recent years. There are many variations and some of them are:



You can play around with the different types of pull-ups to get better and stronger. The pull-up mainly trains your upper back, lats, biceps, and triceps. If you want to learn more about pull-ups look up:


  • Frank Medrano
  • Edward Checo
  • Sam Tribble
  • Brandon Carter
  • Brendan Meyers
  • Lazar Novovic
  • Pavel Rudometkin

To perform a good pull up follow these steps:


  1. Start with a narrow grip (you can gradually go wider. Wider=Harder)
  2. Grip the bar 
  3. Squeeze the bar as hard as you can
  4. Fully hang from the bar to the lowest point
  5. Start from the bottom
  6. Activate your arms and biceps
  7. Squeeze your shoulders together to activate your lats
  8. Pull up until your chin over the bar
  9. Lower yourself slowly to the bottom position

Rinse and repeat to get stronger. Look up some of the calisthenics programs on the internet to get a progression going. This way you know what you are doing each time you step in the gym.


The biggest advantages of the pull up are that it does not need a lot of equipment and that the injury risk is very low. You can do them anywhere and it is very unlikely you will break any bones unless you do something really stupid.


The biggest disadvantages of the pull-up are that it is actually quite hard to pull up your own body weight as an adult. It takes practice and patience for many to even perform one pull up.


Should you combine deadlifts and pull ups? 


You can combine deadlifts and pull-ups in one session. I recommend doing the deadlifts before the pull-ups to keep your grip fresh for the deadlifts. It is also a good idea to combine pull-ups and deadlifts in a program for intermediates to develop the lower and upper back. If you are too weak to do pull-ups supplement with rows.


Combining the deadlift with pull-ups is not my favorite. I think squat and bench press sessions are better. Here you can just throw them in between sets to get more out of your session. You can do the some with dips for deadlifts.


Further reading 



Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Fitness, Strength, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman