Making Deadlifts Useful for Olympic Weightlifting

Are deadlifts useful for Olympic weightlifting? Sure, as long as they look a lot like a clean…
Strength is very position and movement-specific—the more similar a training motion is to what we want stronger, the more the strength it builds will help.
However, less similar strength movements don’t just help less—they can actually be counterproductive, and the deadlift is a good example of this.
When we pull a clean, we want a rigidly extended back, a posture that keeps us upright but over the bar, and even balance over the whole foot.
If our heaviest pulling work is conventional deadlifts that start with high hips, shift balance to the heels, bring the shoulders behind the bar, and round the back so we look like a question mark, we’re not just not helping our Olympic lifts—we’re making our strongest position and pattern one that diverges from what we need, and the body will invariably revert to our strongest positions as weights increase. In other words, we’re training to make it impossible to do what we want in our biggest lifts.
So can we lift as much with a stricter clean deadlift as in an anything-goes deadlift? Not quite, but all of it will apply to our lifts, and none of it will detract from them. And moreover… if this is the way you train deadlifts long term, the gap will diminish dramatically anyway and the point largely becomes moot.

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