Pretend You’re Squeezing Juice With Your Armpits To Improve Your Deadlift

During a deadlift, you risk hurting yourself if you let your upper back round from the strain of lifting the weight off the floor. The trick is to keep your body braced and “tight”, so to do that, imagine yourself making juice with your armpits. It sounds crazy, but it works.

Your upper back can round when you do a deadlift for a number of reasons. Typically, it’s that the weight is too heavy, your upper back muscles are weak and/or you’re not keeping your body “tight” enough. Tony Gentilcore, a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance, suggests you pretend that you’re squeezing an orange in your armpit during the entire rep, like you’re making orange juice.

The tightness is crucial because it provides stability throughout the lift but also helps protect your spine. The video above from the strong gals at Unapologetically Powerful demonstrates how to incorporate the cue from start to finish.

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  • I thought it was okay to round your upper back just as long as it doesn’t happen to your lower back because that is where the problems start. At some point when you’re lifting heavy (and you should be because you’re deadlifting) you will have a rounded upper back. Just look at videos of power lifters who always have a slight rounded upper back during the start of the lift.

    • Rounding your upper back is OK as long as it is minor and on your heavy sets. If you are rounding on your lighter sets drop the weight and practice. Lower back rounding is never ever good light\medium or heavy.
      This cue is quite good. What I found works is tucking your shoulders in your pockets and squeezing the bar as hard as you can. Tighter the hand tighter the rest of your body will be which translates well to squats\bench\deadlift

    • You are correct, but the focus should be ATTEMPTING to have a flat and tight upper back. In the same way you’ll never be totally upright in a squat, but you should be ATTEMPTING to tay as upright as possible throughout. As weights approach your max (probably > 75%), the back will start rounding. Anything below that you should be able to stay pretty strong in the upper back (and elsewhere).

      FWIW, when I try to give this tip to people (who ask, never unsolicited), is to imagine trying to hold a golf ball in your armpits during the lift. Instantly improves people’s form in one set.

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