6 Tips For A Better Deadlift
The deadlift iis a fundamental movement that should be trained by everyone. Whether you want to gain strength, build muscle, burn fat, become a better athlete or just make everyday tasks easier, you should train the deadlift.
Believie it or not the current world record for the deadlift is just over 1,100 pounds. Imagine trying to pick up 1.100 pounds from the floor. Yikes! But, the deadlift isn't just for powerlifters who could lift a small car It also has a place in the average persons gym routine.
The deadlift gets its name from the starting postion of the weight or bar. Break down its name and you'll see it's LIFTing a DEAD weight from the floor. The deadlift is the name of the exercise but it trains a fundamental movement pattern: the hip hinge.
The hip hinge is exactly as it sounds. It is a hinging from the hips. Learning to hinge from the hips as opposed to the low back is key in performing the deadlift and hip hinge properly.
Before you grab a bar and load it up with weight it is important to be able to hinge properly from the hips. The video below courtesy of Dr. John Rusin shows an excellent drill for teaching the hip hinge. When you can properly hinge from the hips you recruit the proper chain of muscles and lower your risk for injury.
Just to reiterate it is absolutely imperative that you can perform the hip hinge with your back to the wall as well as with the dowel touching 3 points of contact. Until you can do this you should not move forward!!
If you find it difficult to maintain the dowel against that back you may need to do some additional work before you're ready to perform the deadlift. It this is the case schedule an assessement with one of our staff. We can give you a more personalized breakdown of your movement pattern and tools you can use to correct this pattern.
Now that you understand what the deadlift is and the prerequisites to performing a solid deadlift I want to share with you six cues or pointers that you can use to improve your deadlift.
1. Maintain a Neutral Spine
Too often I see people in the bottom of their deadlift with there head up looking straight ahead. If you practiced performing the hip hinge with the dowel you'll notice that your head has not option but to stay in a straight line. This is the best position for the neck and spine when performing the dealift. It allows for the most stable position of the torso. Use a dowel to bring awareness to the posiion of your neck in between sets.
2. Lift Your Chest
When you take position under the bar you'll want to lift your chest. This will set your low back in the proper positin. Starting in this position gives you the best opportunity to remain in good position throughout the lift. In the picture below you can see that my chest is down.
In the second pic my chest is lifted which will help our next key point.
3. Engage Your Lats
It's important that you learn to engage your lats throughout the lift. If you are weak in the lats you'll lose the tension you need to lift the bar from the ground. This energy leak will cost you pounds on the bar and will also increase your chances of injury. To engage your lats some people think about bending the bar. I like to think about pulling my shoulders down and back while pulling the arms into the sides of my torso. You can give either cue a try. Whichever one suits you is the one to use.
4. Build Pre Tension
If you've practiced lifting the chest and engaging your lats you'll likely have some tension build up already. The last thing you want to think about is getting your legs driving into the ground without picking up the bar. This means if you have 135 pounds on the bar your pulling up with about 134 pounds of force. You're effectively taking all of the slack out of the bar. When you start to elevate the bar from the ground your body will be ready locked loaded and ready to go.
5. Push Don't Pull
This might sound counterintiutive. When you look at the dealift it would appear that you are pulling the bar from the floor into a standing position and you're correct to think that. In order to get the bar off the floor what you actually are doing is driving your legs into the ground. This produces the necessary ground forces to engage the muscles in the legs. The entire time you are moving the weight from the floor until lockout you should be thininkgdrive my feet and legs into the floor. I like to say imagine your pushing the floor away from you.
6. Extend Your Hips
After the bar has reached your knees it's time to drive the hips forward. We want to utilize the strongest muscles in the body "the glutes" to finish the lift. Simply think about trying to get your hips to the bar in a straight line. This minimizes the distance the bar has to travel and recruits the muscles that you need. Once the bar reaches the hips it's not necessar to lean back. Stand tall to finish the lift and return the bar to the floor under control.
Take time to practice the steps above and watch your deadlift numbers increase. Until next time Happy Deadlifting!!