Deadlifts a la Tate

By Dave Tate

In Exercises, Powerlifting, Videos

July 23, 2009

Video Article

Dave Tate of EliteFTS came to CrossFit San Diego for a private seminar on January 24, 2009. Dave was a successful competitive powerlifter for over two decades. He trained with Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell Club. His best back squat was 930lbs, bench 610lbs, and deadlift 740lbs. Tate is a powerlifting specialist, and he doesn’t claim to be anything else.

In this series on the deadlift, Tate offers a simplified approach. Pick the bar up. More specifically, he says, stay on the heels, shoulders start over or behind the bar, lean back, and stand up. Sumo style is better for some. His language reflects his time in the gym.

Part 1 covers the basics including setup, approach, bar speed, and some differences between sumo and conventional.
9min 35sec

Part 2 starts with a discussion on max loads, including warm-ups and the weight differential between max squat and max deadlift. He also covers grip and adjusts a couple athletes. There is also a discussion about the differences between Powerlifting and Oly-lifting.
10min 6sec

Part 3 Tate works with Nicole Carroll (who is solid), Greg Amundson (who isn’t), and John Welbourn. He ends up switching Amundson to a sumo stance because of his long torso.
9min 18sec

Part 4 is mostly about RDLs (which Tate doesn’t like) and Dimel deadlifts (which he does). Dimel deadlifts are high speed, high volume, partial ROM deadlifts that have supported massive gains is 1RM loads.
4min 47sec

Part 5 has Dave Castro goes heavy, eventually lifting 490lbs off the floor but not making the lift (PR at the time was 455lbs). John Welbourne then does five reps with the 490 under Tate’s guidance.
4min 2sec

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Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:


39 Comments on “Deadlifts a la Tate”


wrote …

This is a wonderful video. I have always had a pretty strong deadlift but feel like I could break a PR next time I hit the gym just from watching this.


wrote …

Dave tate's the man! I cant wait to try deadlifting with my shoulders behind the bar and falling back.


wrote …

Dave Tate is just awesome. I have read articles written by him on some other sites, and it is great to have these training videos. I hope Dave and Crossfit work together for some time. I am a fan of Dave Tate.


wrote …

I'd really like to get down to the bottom of the differences between Tate and Rip. I've pulled 405 sumo (PR) and 385 traditional, both on the tail end of the CrossFit Total. I did the 7x1 deadlift workout 2 days ago and only managed an ugly 375. That was after reading Rip's 6 page article from Nov 2006 on the DL. Not to mention my back is still crazy sore today. I guess next time I should just try to pick the thing up. It seems like traditional is much more easily repeated movement for high rep workouts, where the sumo seems like a 1 RM technique.


wrote …

Anyone else curious about the "Glute ham raise . . . I need you to cut the camera" statement?


replied to comment from Chris Robinson

OH yeaaaahhhhh. :-)


Karl Eagleman wrote …

Fantastic stuff here.

Anyone know who the guy is in the red long sleeve CF shirt?


replied to comment from Chris Robinson

Yeah, what's up with the camera cut? What kind of a tease was that!? Secret glut/ham exercises... hmmmm!!!


replied to comment from Karl Eagleman

You kidding? Thats the infamous Greg Amundson! One of the original CrossFit badasses, I believe he is a SWAT team member.


wrote …

My understanding is that having the shoulders in front of the bar you in a better position for olympic lifting (i.e. for the 2nd pull), so you might refer to that style as a "clean deadlift." I think it also puts more emphasis on the quads, especially when wearing oly shoes. If you're concerned about grooving that technique for oly lifts, especially for trainees who don't have a lot of time under the bar, maybe stick with Rip's style. In other words, someone who's focus is powerlifting or strongman will get enough reps in with each that they can afford to switch between the two styles for deadlifts vs. oly lifts. A client who you see 2 or 3 times a week, who will only see deadlifts every X weeks, probably won't do as well mixing it up.

If you want to maximize the amount you can pull, I'd say do it Dave Tate's way, as it lets you shift more of the burden to the (larger) p-chain muscles. It's also, AFAIK, the way that the strongest deadlifters pull, although I don't know how much suits are a factor (certainly much less than in the squat).


wrote …

tell them both are options - everything works, but some things work better for some and other things work better for others, everyones different and everyone needs to find the nuanaces that work for themselves, absorb what works, discard what doesn't and maybe add in a bit you learn yourself


Daniel Schmieding wrote …

Fantastic videos, best out of the whole Tate series.

And of course it was a blast seeing Amundson, Nicole, Castro, etc lift.

Sumo-Deadlift is often overlooked, while having just as much if not more functional value than the traditional.


replied to comment from Chris Robinson

Yes me too! Does anybody in CrossFit do the glute-ham raise? The GHD has many uses: back extensions, sit-ups, hip extensions, hip/back extensions but no glute-ham raises. Why is that? I went to a Level 1 cert and they didn't explain that exercise. Even though that piece of equipment was meant for the raise? Can anybody fill me in on that, maybe that's why they cut the camera? Ooooohh.....


James Crichton wrote …

Yeah I do glute-ham raises. A far superior exercise to the glute-ham situp in my opinion. I can't fathom why Crossfit uses this piece of equipment for every exercise except the one for which it was designed.

GHRs are a great assistance exercise for the hamstrings, to bring up your DL and squat, and other things. They would be a good idea for females particularly, who generally have relatively weaker hamstrings. Failure to strengthen the hamstrings leaves an athlete prone to injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee in particular.


wrote …

+1 for more GHD info


wrote …

I never thought about it (before now), but there is nothing wrong in using the sumo-style when performing CFT? At least I can't find anything in the rules.. and I would probably increase my DL by doing it sumo-style :)


replied to comment from Daniel Meyer

I understand the difference for having your shoulders in front of the bar for oly lifting but we're not comparing Tate & Coach B here. We're comparing Tate to Rip who both come from powerlifting backgrounds. Rip doesn't gear his coaching towards an oly lifting program which is why he uses the low bar back squat. So why is there this difference in opinion on the shoulder placement?


replied to comment from Daniel Gallagher



wrote …

You can't square what Tate says with what Rip says. They have very different theories of the deadlift and it has nothing to do with Oly versus power lifting. We forget because we are in the CF community, but Rip is an insurgent when it comes to power lifting. Arms in front of the bar, high hips, is heresy amongst most power lifters.

Rip's theory has to do with loading the scapula efficiently, which is anatomically where we are supposed to carry heavy loads.

I'll bet if we had a professional running coach in here they would tell us to train and eat differently than B-Mac and CF Endurance, too.


wrote …

I believe the glute ham raise Tate is referring to is NOT the GHD bench variety. Louie Simmons invented a reverse hyper bench that essentially mimics the reverse of the GHD - the legs swing freely against resistance provided by a belt that goes over the back of the ankles, while the tosro rests on a pad. The entire Westside Barbell team swears by the "miracle" of this piece of equipment. I could be wrong, but I believe that is the movement Tate was going to discuss. You can see the piece on the Westside website


wrote …

I will be honest...I was a bit skeptical about this technique until we did DL max's this morning in the garage box. Of the 11 clients in the morning class, the average increase in PR was 25lbs. Two people went up by 40lbs. Now I'm sure it isn't all attributable to Tate's technique, they have been working hard, but they all said if felt 'easier' to get on the heels and lean back. Thanks for the instruction.

On another note...How cool is it to see some of the best coaches/instructors that CF has to offer still excited about learning. That speaks volumes about CF and their dedication to help people become more fit.


wrote …

Very interesting. Can't wait to try the new cues.

I wonder if Greg A. will stick with sumos.


Russell Berger wrote …

It's been a while since my barbell cert, so It would be nice if Rip could get on here and correct me if I'm wrong, but Rip's Deadlift set-up works on his hypothesis that regardless of setup, the bar will ONLY raise from the floor once the hips have moved into the proper position, which means high enough to put the scapula over the bar. Rip showed us a number of videos of lifters who pull as Tate describes, and noted with each video that the lifter's hips drove up quickly and his or her scapula rotated over the bar almost the instant the bar left the ground... ( here is a good example: ) (WFS)

Rip's point was that given this shift in position, and the swing it can create in the bar on your 1RM attempt ( which should ideally be a straight line bar path), why not just start there?

It's also important to note that Tate has completely different intentions than Rip, and their differences in coaching probably mostly boil down to the differences in strength-training and professional power-lifting.


replied to comment from Michael Senft

Louie created the reverse hyper machine, on which you do reverse hypers, a very distinct exercise from a glute-ham raise. In fact, if you go to, you'll see that what York calls a "glute ham bench" and what many refer to as a "glute ham developer", they call a "glute ham raise." So, I'm pretty sure that when Dave said "glute ham raise" he meant the exercise that we all think of as a glute ham raise.

You were there. Care to share any inisght as to what was said/shown?


wrote …

Great videos. Just great.


wrote …

Typical of us... we want to prepare for the unknown, which requires seeing the unseen. Like others, I would like someone to ask Dave Tate what he meant. Maybe DL Part 6....


replied to comment from Russell Berger

Russell, you would know better than I, but I think Coach Rip has said many times - "I want to train beginners in how to get stronger," not how to win contests/set records. The difference in those two desired outcomes is reflected in what they emphasize in their training.

It is most excellent to be able to have both to learn from!


replied to comment from Christer Idland


The official CFT rules (via the main page FAQ) say, "The bar is gripped with both hands outside the legs" which rules out sumo.

I'm not sure what rules were used at this year's CF Games, but I don't recall seeing any sumo. If you plan on competing you should probably not neglect the CFT-style DL. On the other hand, if you're not doing "official" CFTs and sumo suits you, go for it.


Russell Berger wrote …

That's absolutely right. Try confusing Rip for a Powerlifting coach, he won't waste any time explaining the difference.

The Glute-Ham raise Tate talks about are similar to the same done by high-school football teams everywhere. There is a pretty good breakdown of the movement in the article I wrote on his seminar. They aren't easy to do on a Typical GHD bench, and are a pretty difficult exercise.


wrote …

of course you can pull more in a sumo the range of motion is short then a traditional.


wrote …



Darren Coughlan wrote …

Russell, where's your article?


replied to comment from Darren Coughlan


Thanks for the reminder about your article. I read through it when it first came out, but had since forgotten about it. You're right, the glute ham raise Dave teaches is just a standard glue ham raise, with the exception of the advanced version (putting the GHD on a box).


Thanks Chris!

Nice article Russell.


wrote …

Howdy everyone,
So I was actually at Rip's certification today and asked him the question everyone else has been wondering. Hopefully I manage to explain it relatively coherently.

Rip suggests shoulders in front of the bar because that is the position in which our scapula is directly over the bar and the bar is over the midfoot. The scapula is essentially where the load is being carried. It is hanging from the arms which are attached at the scapula.


If you look when any heavy deadlift is pulled off the floor, the scapula is over the bar. It doesn't matter where the scapula starts off at (behind or in front) - when the bar leaves the floor the scapula is over the bar. Look at any heavy deadlift.

I'm pretty convinced that Rip is right about this as I've paused enough videos to see the evidence. Look at the 5th video at any of the pulls and you'll see that when the bar breaks the ground the scapula is NEVER behind the bar.


wrote …

Philip did you see john welbourn pull the bar from his toes not the middle of the foot and bar still adjust itself into that vertical bar path that Mark Rippetoe likes to talk about. Rip has true teaching methods and well Dave Tate, "just pick the f*cking bar up." just doesn't do it for me. What type coach are you if thats your teaching method, its not a method at all,its just good advise at best.


wrote …

Question for Mr Tate/community:
What's your opinion on the use of straps and/or belts when going for a PR? Does this question come up with your members?


That's why I asked. I thought it was Greg Amundson, I just haven't seen him in a while.


Kirez Reynolds wrote …

Perhaps, like with pullups, the most effective route from A to B is not a straight line.

Rip is unarguably correct that a straight line from spine to bar passes through the middle of the scapula. It cannot be otherwise. Anthropometry can and does vary dramatically from one individual to the next, but nobody has a skeletal joint between the spine and shoulder - the force is transmitted through the trapezius. Between floor and standing in a deadlift, the shoulders are necessarily in front of the bar.

If people are getting better results by starting with the shoulders above or behind the bar, then they are necessarily incorporating an extra movement into their deadlift, and that movement is NOT pulling the bar from the floor in a straight vertical line. (OR, the bar moves vertically, but the body shifts fore and aft as it accomplishes the lift.)

If Tate is getting people to lift more by incorporating additional back-and-forth movements into the lift, something far more interesting is happening. The negotiation of balance -- body mass behind the bar, then rebalancing forward, then rebalancing backward -- is helping the lifter to, excuse this spin on the word, 'kip' the bar up.

There may be something else going on: a more effective sequence of firing the muscles. The most common mistake we see in the deadlift is for the hips to shoot up too fast. We see this the first time a lifter reaches a weight that's too heavy: the legs fire, the hips go up, but the bar either doesn't move at all or doesn't move as far as the hips did. The back is then left at a worse angle and holding more of the weight.

I would not be surprised if you told me that the explanation for these two phenomena is the same: leaning back with your deadlift enables you to incorporate the more powerful firing of the hips, correcting to an angle and putting height and momentum on the bar, at which point the back can increase its contribution. This pattern seems to be more common, more intuitive, and faster, and one big difference I note in Dave Tate's deadlifts --- they're faster.

It would not be the first time we saw straight-line thinking frustrated by biological systems.

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