Introduction to Deadlift Hitching
What is deadlift hitching, also known as a ramping deadlift? The answer is supporting the barbell on the thighs during the performance of a deadlift.
The origin of this phrase is that hitch means a snag, an obstruction, or a setback. As in, “It went without a hitch.” So a deadlift hitch implies an interruption, a pause in the deadlift.
A hitch deadlift disqualifies your deadlift during a powerlifting competition. You might care less about that, but you still need to avoid deadlift hitching for three reasons.
- The form of a hitch deadlift is terrible. Don’t do it. Do not use a weight that is so heavy that you end up hitching the deadlift.
- You do not want to fail on your deadlift during a powerlifting meet because of a deadlift hitch.
- Risk of injury. Even if you don’t care about lousy form or training for a powerlifting meet, you put your health at risk because the deadlift is a dangerous lift when not done right.
Resting the bar on or above your knees and then sliding it is not a deadlift. Don’t show off for your friends at the gym!
IPF Deadlift Rules
Deadlift hitching is a term used so often that you might think this appears in the International Powerlifting Federation Technical Rulebook. It does not. But, you can see that rule number 4 is the deadlift hitch.
Causes for disqualification of a deadlift found on Page 32 of Technical Rules Revised: 12.15.2016 from www.USA Powerlifting.com:
1. Any downward movement of the bar before it reaches the final position.
2. Failure to stand erect with the shoulders back.
3. Failure to lock the knees straight after the lift.
4. Supporting the bar on the thighs during the performance of the lift (This is deadlift hitching). If the bar edges up to the leg but is not supported, this is not a reason for disqualification. The lifter should benefit from all decisions of doubt made by the referee.
5. Stepping backward or forward or moving the feet laterally. The rocking of the feet between ball and heel is permitted. Foot movement after the command “Down” will not be cause for failure.
6. Lowering the bar before receiving the Chief Referee’s signal.
7. Do not release the bar from the palms of your hands.
8. Failure to comply with any of the items outlined under “Rules of Performance.”
The figure below from the IPF Technical Rules shows a description of supporting the bar on the thighs aka deadlift hitching:
How to Stop Hitching on the Deadlift
1. The easiest way to avoid hitching the deadlift is to deadlift a weight that you can handle. Stop deadlifting an amount of weight that is so heavy that you cannot complete the lift without hitching.
2. Instead of focusing on how much weight you can deadlift, work on perfecting your deadlift form.
3. Deadlifting too much weight without proper technique puts you at risk for injury. What is the point of deadlifting 700 pounds with a hitch? Lower the amount of weight you lift and prevent injury and disqualification.
4. Your starting position is critical to building speed off the floor in the deadlift. First, let’s talk about your stance, how far apart should your feet be from each other?
5. Your feet should be in the position to get the maximum push off of the floor.
6. This stance will be the width you typically take for a jump, your jump stance.
7. Therefore, this position is narrower than your starting position for a squat.
8. Also, the barbell should be directly over the middle of your foot.
9. A good coaching cue is to line the barbell up with the laces on your deadlift shoes.
10. Speaking of shoes, make sure that you are wearing deadlift shoes. Do not deadlift wearing typical gym sneakers.
Shoulder Blades Over the Bar
11. Also, make sure that your shoulder blades are over the barbell, which means that your shoulders will be a bit forward from the barbell.
12. When you start the deadlift, the barbell should lift in a straight line.
13. If you want to go from point a to point b, the fastest route is a straight road.
14. Deadlifting with the bar swinging a bit forward and then backward is not efficient.
15. Besides a lack of efficiency, the weight moving too far in front of you is risking injury as well.
16. So keep your shoulder blades over the barbell, not behind and not in front.
Vertical Leg Press
17. Think of a vertical leg press as a deadlift coaching cue. When you imagine doing a vertical leg press, you will focus on starting your deadlift with a massive push against the floor. This push helps your speed off the floor, which is critical to power your lift.
18. Use the power in your legs to fuel the deadlift up to and past your knees. As soon as the bar passes your knees, your hip thrust forward finishes the lift.
19. A good deadlift coaching cue is to think of pushing the floor away from you. This deadlifting cue will help maximize your leg drive.
Watch this two-part series from Alan Thrall to help fix deadlift hitching. Watch both videos for great suggestions to improve your deadlift.
The first explains how to speed up your deadlift off the floor:
Make Your Back Flat Like a Table
20. You need to keep your back flat during the deadlift for two reasons:
- Complete your deadlift
- Avoid injury
21. A good cue o flatten your back, is to think about raising your chest when you are ready to start your lift.
22. Never pull a bar with your back rounded. That is an invitation for disaster.
23. Do not even think of increasing the weight you deadlift until you perfect your deadlift form.
A flat back, or neutral spine, will prevent injury and force you to tighten your body. You cannot raise your chest and flatten your back without tightening up your core. And a flat back like a table helps you complete your deadlift with the final step.
When the bar passes your knees, think of pushing your hips through to the barbell. This hip drive and will help you complete the deadlift to the lockout of your knees. For more tips, read How to Deadlift Like a Boss in 5 Simple Ways and 39 Top Deadlift Tips for Beginners.
Deadlift Hitching – Final Thoughts
Some people ask if hitching on the deadlift is voluntary. And the answer is, of course, it is! For your safety and to get the most benefits out of deadlifting, you must prevent hitching on the deadlift.
This post explains what a hitching deadlift is and practical strategies to ensure you never perform a hitching deadlift.
Whether you are an athlete, fitness, or deadlift enthusiast, these tactics will help improve your overall deadlift strength. A stronger, more powerful, and safer deadlift will enhance your total health and fitness.
What are your most effective deadlifting coaching cues and assistance exercises to prevent deadlift hitching?
Please comment and share.
And if you are not up to deadlifts and first need to take off weight, read how to lose 20 pounds in 3 months.
See 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast for more details about why deadlifts are so good for you.