Throughout his nearly decade-long career as a strongman, Robert Oberst has assuredly picked up many nuggets of knowledge along the way. He likely couldn’t have competed for as long as he has if he didn’t learn the tools of the trade regarding proper training and technique.
In its many variations, the deadlift is a staple compound movement across parts of the strength sports world. It is a competitive fixture in strongman and powerlifting contests and a great movement for anyone looking to develop leg and back strength. (Provided they execute the movement with good technique.)
As an eight-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) competitor, Oberst assuredly knows the core components of what goes into a stellar deadlift rep. Is tips are as follows:
Tip 1 — Slightly Arch Your Back
Before Oberst does any deadlifts, he starts his walkthrough by emphasizing body positioning. He stresses that slightly arching the lower back creates more stability when pulling the weight. The American strongman compares this tenet to the process of another compound movement in the back squat.
“If you are an experienced lifter, you know that at the bottom of a squat, when you get down there, you get a little bit of an arch,” Oberst says. “Your butt starts to flex out, nice and tight, and that ends up stabilizing you much more. It’s the same at the bottom of a deadlift. You want to have that slight arch in your back. Make sure that that part of your body is braced and ready to lift.”
Tip 2 — Actively Extend Your Arms
Next in his deadlift guide, Oberst muses about athletes making sure they keep their arms long during their pulls. As Oberst notes, keeping the arms long through a rep will make the range of motion on a deadlift shorter and ultimately easier to lift.
“You want to make sure your arms are long and strong, as tight to your body as you can without keeping you from being able to stand up,” Oberst says. “That keeps your arms nice and straight. The closer [the barbell] to your body, the straighter [the arms] are going to be.”
Tip 3 — Push Your Knees Past the Arms
In Oberst’s final piece of deadlift advice, the strongman advocates for putting the knees past the arms while pulling. Oberst believes that an athlete’s knee positioning is perhaps the most essential aspect of a successful deadlift — even more critical than hip height.
“For a standard deadlift…I need to make sure that my knees are past my arm, so when I pull, my knees are over the bar,” Oberst explains. “That is so important that my trainer even explained to me, ‘Don’t worry about high your hips are.’ I don’t care how high your hips are! We’re at the beginning, at stage one of building back your deadlift. And at stage one, it’s the most important thing to ensure your knees are past your arms.”
Oberst’s Upcoming Plans
His core deadlift tenets aside, Oberst has been keeping busy of late. In April 2022 — after recovering from a torn shoulder tendon that knocked him out of much of the 2022 season — Oberst stated that he would retire from strongman competition after the 2023 WSM.
Later, in June 2022, the Giants Live organization revealed that Oberst would be the captain of Team USA during the 2022 World’s Strongest Nation.
Oberst’s squad — which features names like Trey Mitchell, Nadia Stowers, and Inez Carrasquillo — will square off against Team UK, led by captain and 2017 WSM Champion Eddie Hall. On his team, Hall will have the support of athletes such as reigning two-time WSM Champion (2021-2022) Tom Stoltman. That competition will occur on November 26, 2022, in Liverpool, England.
From training advice and team endeavors to pondering his future, it certainly seems Oberst has no shortage of creativity in staying active.
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