06/06/2022 # Coaching
“The deadlift keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality but imparts quick and prominent athletic advantage like no other exercise.”
The deadlift is unrivaled in its simplicity and impact while unique in its capacity for increasing head-to-toe strength.
Regardless of whether your fitness goals are to “rev up” your metabolism, increase strength or lean body mass, decrease body fat, rehabilitate your back, improve athletic performance, or maintain functional independence as a senior, the deadlift is a marked shortcut to that end.
To the detriment of millions, the deadlift is infrequently used and seldom seen either by most of the exercising public and/or, believe it or not, by athletes. It might be that the deadlift’s name has scared away the masses; its older name, “the healthlift”, was a better choice for this perfect movement.
In its most advanced application the deadlift is a prerequisite to, and a component of, “the world’s fastest lift,” the snatch, and “the world’s most powerful lift,” the clean, but it is also, quite simply, no more than the safe and sound approach by which any object should be lifted from the ground.
The deadlift, being no more than picking a thing off the ground, keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality but imparts quick and prominent athletic advantage like no other exercise. Not until the clean, snatch, and squat are well developed will the athlete again find as useful a tool for improving general physical ability.
The deadlift’s primal functionality, whole-body nature, and mechanical advantage with large loads suggest its strong neuroendocrine impact, and for most athletes, the deadlift delivers such a quick boost in general strength and sense of power that its benefits are easily understood.
If you want to get stronger, improve your deadlift. Driving your deadlift up can nudge your other lifts upward, especially the Olympic lifts. Fear of the deadlift abounds, but as fear of the squat, it is groundless. No exercise or regimen will protect the back from the potential injuries of sport and life or the certain ravages of time like the deadlift.
We recommend deadlifting at near-max loads once per week or so and maybe one other time at loads that would be insignificant at low reps. Be patient and learn to celebrate small, infrequent bests. Major benchmarks would certainly include body-weight, twice-body-weight, and three-times-body-weight deadlifts, representing “beginning,” “good,” and “great” deadlifts respectively.
For us, the guiding principles of proper technique rest on three pillars: orthopedic safety, functionality, and mechanical advantage. Concerns for orthopedic stresses and limited functionality are behind our rejection of stances wider than hip to shoulder width. While acknowledging the remarkable achievements of many powerlifters with the super-wide deadlift stance, we feel that its limited functionality (we cannot safely, walk, clean, or snatch from “out there”) and the increased resultant forces on the hip from wider stances warrant only infrequent and moderate to light exposures to wider stances.
Experiment and work regularly with alternate, parallel, and hook grips. Explore carefully and cautiously variances instance, grip width, and even plate diameter— each variant uniquely stresses the margins of an all-important functional movement. This is an effective path to increased hip capacity.
Consider each of the following cues to a sound deadlift. Many motivate identical behaviors, yet each of us responds differently to different cues.
Set-Up and Execution :
- Natural stance with feet under hips.
- Symmetrical grip whether parallel, hook, or alternate.
- Hands placed where arms will not interfere with legs while pulling from the ground.
- Bar above the knot of the shoelaces.
- Shoulders slightly forward of bar.
- Inside of elbows facing one another.
- Chest up and inflated. • Abs tight.
- Arms locked and not pulling.
- Shoulders pinned back and down.
- Lats and triceps contracted and pressing against one another.
- Keep your weight on your heels.
- Bar stays close to the legs and essentially travels straight up and down.
- Torso’s angle of inclination remains constant while the bar is below the knees.
- Gaze straight ahead.
- Shoulders and hips rise at the same rate when the bar is below the knees.
- Arms remain perpendicular to the ground until lockout.
- Look straight ahead.
- Keep the back arched.
- Arms do not pull; they are just straps.
- Bar travels along the legs.
- Push through the heels.
The deadlift, like the squat, is an essential functional movement and carries a potent hormonal punch. This is core training like no other.