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Strongmen Laurence Shahlaei and Rauno Heinla’s Deadlift Accessory Tips


A heavy deadlift demonstrates raw strength and is a mainstay event in competitive strongman. In a video published on his YouTube channel on July 31, 2023, Laurence Shahlaei, who recently shattered his Dinnie Stone carry world record by over seven feet, traveled to Estonia to train Rauno Heinla, who offered insight for building a heavier deadlift

Heinla is a two-time World Deadlift Champion (2019 and 2022) and currently holds three deadlift world records, including a 540-kilogram 18-inch deadlift, a 580-kilogram silver dollar deadlift, and a 476-kilogram Masters deadlift.  Check out their training video below:

Heinla and Shahlaei’s Deadlift Tips

Heinla asserted that the barbell should be in contact with the shins at the deadlift starting position. Placing the bar at a distance from the lower legs can skew the line of pull, leading to suboptimal force generation.

Heinla uses a hip-width stance. However, he encourages each individual to to three different deadlift stances to suit their biomechanics: shoulder-wide, narrow, and wider-than-shoulder-width.

Heinla uses a shoulder-wide overhand grip for his deadlifts. He keeps his elbows locked out and tight to his legs. He looks up during his concentrics as he finds that increases his rate of successful lockouts. Rounding one’s back will likely put unwanted stress on the lower back and should mostly be avoided.

Heinla maintains a neutral spine when bending to the bar. He remarked that many lifters round their backs at the starting position, as it allows them to grab the bar without bending at their hips and knees. However, he finds that is suboptimal, as it hinders leg drive. 

Heinla argued that if one squats too deep to reach the bar, they’ll mainly use their legs to pull the bar off the floor. On the flip side, rounding the back without bending the knees or hips will bias more of the load onto the back. Balancing that load is where Heinla generates maximal force.

Heinla trains the deadlift twice weekly. He begins with the conventional deadlift and works up to one of three accessory deadlift: deficit, 18-inch, and snatch-grip.

Deficit Deadlift

Heinla opined that the extended range of motion of a deficit deadlift shifts the focus to the back, which can help improve one’s conventional deadlift and Atlas Stone lifts. He prescribed the deficit deadlift to lifters who are weak pulling the barbell off the floor.

18-inch Deadlift

This is Heinla’s favorite deadlift variation. Per Heinla, the 18-inch deadlift is an excellent accessory lift for lifters who struggle to lock out. Since the barbell starts higher off the floor, this accessory is not meant to improve pulls from the floor over the knees. Heinla recommended using the same stance as one would for a conventional deadlift. 

Heinla employs two different techniques when training 18-inch deadlifts: explosive concentrics when building to a one-rep max and steady cadence pulls for reps to promote strength. 

Shahlaei recommended beginners use a slow-rep speed until they have drilled the movement. Once there, they can incorporate explosive concentrics.

Snatch-Grip Deadlift

Heinla advised holding the barbell as close to the collars as possible and using a wider stance. He recommended using lifting straps so the grip isn’t a limiting factor at heavier loads. 

The movement pattern of a snatch-grip deadlift is similar to a conventional deadlift. Heinla’s snatch-grip deadlift PR is 300 kilograms (661.3 pounds) for 10 reps.

Featured image: @rauno_heinla on Instagram

The post Strongmen Laurence Shahlaei and Rauno Heinla’s Deadlift Accessory Tips appeared first on BarBend.

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