The barbell is on the floor. You make your approach, bend over, and then spend 30 seconds wrapping your fingers around the bar. It’s not open-heart surgery, and you’re procrastinating. You raise the bar a few inches off the ground, can’t lock it out, then let it crash to the floor. Epic fail. Research conducted at Josef Pilsudski University in Poland and Semmelweis University in Hungary has shown that stalling at the bottom of a deadlift can cause you to lose up to 55% of the elastic energy that helps you start the lift. You need to develop a routine that allows you to grip the bar and pick it up within seconds.

Trust Yourself

“You have to commit yourself to what you’re doing,” says Josh Bryant, a trainer at legendary Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and an 810-pound deadlifter. “It’s the one lift where you’ll see people with crappy form pull a lot of weight because they have the right attitude.” Bryant suggests visualizing yourself successfully completing the lift before you step up to the bar. “You need to have the lift done in your head already,” he says. “That way, when you actually grab the bar, you’re just going through the motions, because you’ve already been successful.” You’ll lock it out, no problem.

Four-Step Deadlift Approach

1) Commit to the pull

“When I step on the platform, I think of letting the weight break my back before I’d miss the lift. Never give up.”

2) Set your grip

“This shouldn’t take long at all. Know ahead of time where you want to hold the bar, then grab it tight and go.”

3) Drop your ass

“If you drop your ass down fast instead of staying down there, you can create better leverage on each rep.”

4) Keep the bar close

“The more the bar goes away from that midline path, the heavier it’s going to get, so keep it tight to your body.”