There is little doubt that Mitchell Hooper is one of the top strongmen in the world. After making waves at his international competition debut at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest, where he finished eighth overall after handily winning his group in the Qualifying Stage, Hooper continued as a podium contender for every contest he entered in the back-half of the year.
Part of Hooper’s success is thanks to his exquisite form across lifts combined with his speed and agility. Compared to other strongmen Hooper competes against at elite stages, like four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw, Hooper is one of the lighter athletes in the field. Hooper offsets that bodyweight differential through his precise form on heavy lifts.
On Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, 2022, Hooper took to his YouTube channel to share tips on proper deadlift stance and the optimal angle for the torso when pulling in two segments from the same live seminar. Check out the first segment below:
Hooper highlights that heavy lifts, like the deadlift, tax the nervous system. Therefore, the form when performing those lifts should be viewed through a lens of offsetting the nervous system’s burden.
The more muscle groups you’re using, the less frequently you’re able to do it.
Considering how many muscle groups are involved in the deadlift, Hooper advises it be programmed twice a week at most. By contrast, the yoke, which uses even more muscle groups, should not be programmed more than once per week.
Positioning for the deadlift varies based on the length of one’s femur. If an athlete can squat deeply and remain upright, their femurs are likely shorter than those who naturally need to bend more forward.
The goal of the deadlift is to move the barbell as efficiently as possible without any sticking points.
Hooper suggests the natural starting stance for the feet should be equivalent to their positioning when performing a high jump. Take a few steps before positioning for a high jump and note the stance of your feet — that is the position your feet should start in for the deadlift. Hooper suggests tweaking the feets’ position from there.
If you make a tweak, give your body four to six weeks to get into it; see how it feels.
[Related: Hafthor Björnsson (+140KG) Wins 2022 Thor’s Powerlifting Meet Via a 970-Kilogram (2,138.5-Pound) Total]
Hooper explained to his seminar audience that the optimal torso angle is most likely somewhere between 15 to 45 degrees when deadlifting. Anything short or beyond that range is over-biasing or the posterior chain or the quads without getting support from the other. For reference, a more vertical torso position biases the quads, while a more horizontal torso position biases the posterior chain.
The 2023 strongman season will be Hooper’s first full season as a professional strongman. He has the recent momentum of a third-place finish at the 2022 Rogue Strongman Invitational and a new Dinnie Stone world record as the wind in his sails. We’ll see if he can continue his string of successes into the new year.
Featured image via Mitchell Hooper’s YouTube channel.