Powerlifter Jamal Browner is training for his strongman debut in September, and that includes a heavy focus on conventional deadlifts. Given his performance in the 2022 USPA Pro Raw Championship, when he pulled 455 kilograms (1,003 pounds), Browner is capable of deadlifting with some of the world’s top strongmen.
On May 13, 2023, Browner published a video to his YouTube channel describing how to properly perform a conventional deadlift. (Unlike in sanctioned powerlifting competitions, strongman contests do not allow sumo deadlifts. )
Check out his tips for deadlifting in the video below at the 3:07 mark:
In the video above, the raw powerlifting world record holder deadlifts 372 kilograms (820 pounds) for five reps. Below is a breakdown of his technique.
Browner’s Conventional Deadlift Advice
Browner described how to “pull slack,” which means gaining tension throughout the bar from the bottom of a deadlift before performing the concentric. Browner suggests imagining “pressing the ground away,” instilling tension in the upper body while the hips set hinge.
“[Apply] pressure down; that way, your body can go up.
- Foot placement — Directly below the armpits (or a little more inward)
- Toe placement — Turned out approximately 45 degrees for proper hip extension
- Arm placement — Maintain arms as long as possible to help pull the slack
- Hand placement — Pull pinkies into the body for back engagement. Squeezing the pinkies helps elevates the chest while keeping the back compact
- Hips placement — Sets the hips right above his elbows, allowing a good hinge
Browner’s hip placement is crucial. If the hips are too low, the deadlifts engage the quads too much; if they’re set too high, excess pressure from pulling the weight applies to the lower back, increasing the risk of injury.
If the deadlift is performed correctly, the hips should feel like they are “prying you open,” with the hips going through the bar. This will naturally extend the lifter upright at the top of the movement.
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Browner maintains a relaxed back without rounding the spine. Keep the back straight at all times when performing conventional deadlifts. Browner reiterated establishing tension in the upper body and pressing the ground away.
Conventional vs. Sumo Deadlifts
Browner typically performs sumo deadlifts in training, as he always lifts sumo in powerlifting contests. However, he incorporates conventional lifts every so often as they bias the hamstrings. Sumos deadlifts bias the glutes and inner adductors.
Browner shared a full day of eating as he packs on mass for his strongman debut. If he can take a win in the deadlift event in September, perhaps a more serious strongman career could be on his horizon.
Featured image: @jamal_b15 on Instagram