The odd thing about it is that I did not really deadlift before 1996 or so, a full 17 years after I began lifting. Why? Because we didn't do it in high school or college to get ready for football. It is as simple as that- we benched, squatted and did some curls. And neck also. I did end up doing a bunch of bent over rows later on because I LOVED the Barbarian Brothers and saw them do 495 lbs. for reps at a seminar that I attended.
So when I decided to deadlift, I taught myself, and promptly screwed my back up. Feet too wide, back rounded, bar way out in front. I guess that was when I ruptured a disk, way back then. I remember when it happened. I downed copious amounts of Jim Beam to dull the ache. This was when I was coaching high school football in Florida. My training partner at the time, Wildman Bill(pro wrestler), suggested that I try sumo deadlift. I took to that right away. My back felt so much better doing sumo's and my hamstrings grew a whole bunch also.
I ended up competing using that style, and pulled over 700 on a few occasions, topping out at 740 in a meet.
Fast forward , a bunch of years to 2009. My assistant at the time , Brett Crossland,(Collegiate National Champ in weightlifting), was pulling some conventional deads and I asked him some questions and got him to show me some stuff. He said in his west Texas twang, "You oughta try 'em!", and I did. Just 315 for a few sets. But lo and behold, actually performing the exercise correctly felt good. The movement felt natural as hell to me. So I started alternating sumos with conventional. Interesting about the conventional- it packs a bunch of muscle on your lats. Pulling that weight hard into your body activates the hell out of the lats.
I still alternate them, but to be honest, I like conventional deadlifting better. No, not because it is a more "manly" lift. It is a more natural lift. Its a position that you actually get in in life when you pick stuff up.
What should one think about when setting up for the conventional deadlift? I am real careful to crush the floor with my heels and flex the hell out of my hammies. I think about sitting back. I think about pulling back on the bar. And here is a huge key with the deadlift. Take the slack out of the bar! What does that mean? It means that if there is 700lbs on the bar, put 699 pounds of pressure on the bar before you begin the lift. No jerking of the bar. When you do not take out the tension, your ass flies up in the air and your low back takes on the brunt of the work. I also put the bar right over where I tie my shoes, I dont crowd the bar. Then, when I go down to the bar in that position, my shins come to the bar, without crowding the bar too much. What else? I think about ripping the skin off of my shins. You must keep the bar close during the lift. as the weight gets heavy, an inch or two out front can mean the difference between making or missing the lift.
Ok- here is my deadlift from today- Please excuse the language as I have a tendency to get in a little bit of a blind rage(as fred Hatfield calls it) when I deadlift. Its 530x8 reps.
I hope this stuff helps you guys in a quest for a bigger deadlift. Hit me up with questions anytime.