Since today was a personal record for the staff and I on trap-bar deadlift (425 on TBDL for me- which is nothing in the deadlifting world) I think it is fitting to talk about how to progress the deadlift with it’s many variations. When I used to train at Rowan or at the commerical gym I never saw people deadlifting, and if they were it tended to hurt my back just from watching. I am not a strong guy by any means but peforming the lift the right way with less weight will get you farther than lifting heavier weights with crappy form. You cannot lift injured, right? With that, let’s look at ways to start deadlifting the right way.
Why deadlift? Because they are a tremendous way to build mass, get viciously strong, strip some extra body fat off, and develop the posterior chain which most of us never care about because everyone is so worried about what they look like on the front of their body. This leads to muscle imbalances which then increases the possibility of injury Also, who doesn’t love a beautiful back side? We also need to realize that in the athletic world the posterior chain is where the power comes from. Strong glutes= faster, more powerful, and a better looking butt.
#1 The Pull-through
*Even though it is a older video, now we teach the chin tucked position to stabilize the cervical spine which has a stabilizing effect on the entire spine. At the bottom position your head should not be up. Your eyes should be looking a few feet in front of you on the ground. Check my last post on Neck Strengthening and look at the neck positioning in the deadlift picture.
This is one of the easiest teaching tools on how to hinge at the hips and not the low back. Even though it looks quite ridiculous, it will keep you from looking ridiculous when you try some deadlift variation because you will actually use your glutes and hamstrings. Keep you chest up, chin tucked, entire back arched and tight, and push your butt back. Finish up tall with your hips all the way through. A common mistake is for people to finish with their back arched (leaned too far back) instead of full hip extension.
#2 Straight Leg Deadlift (Romanian Deadlift =for those of you who like to think this foreign country invented this lift!)
The second progression allows us greater strength gains because we can know load the barbell more than the cable column allows for the pullthrough. It also offers the benefit of having the weight in front of us so that we can get accustomed to the set-up of a conventional deadlift. Unrack from a power rack that is around hip height. The same cues apply, keep your knees slightly bent throughout the movement, chest wide, and back tight/flat. Keep the bar close your legs as you push your butt back. Then fire through your heels driving your hips through and sqeezing your glutes hard. Do not worry so much about how far the bar can go down your legs, rather focus on keeping the lower back arched throughout.
#3 Trap-Bar Deadlift (TBDL)
The trap-bar deadlift is one which we use at Endeavor almost always once people master how to properly hinge at the hips. Most often times people may be strong enough to pull weight off the floor but their lack of mobility in their upper-back and hips does not allow them the proper set-up and thus proper form throughout the movement. Although the TBDL loads the quads more than in a conventional deadlift they are easier to teach and perform. They also can save the knees a little bit more while still recruiting the posterior chain quite effectively.
#4 Conventional Deadlift
Proper form, takes a long time and this is why most people have no excuse for loading it up like they do. Just being able to set-up the right way proves that you have been doing something right! Let’s face it, guys who can pull from the floor heavy are usually beasts. Knowing how to set-up can be confusing because many people have different methods. The way I think about getting set up is feet hip width, maybe wider, the bar 2-3 inches aways from the shins (this is just the way that I do it, many methods work). As you lower to get in position some ankle dorsiflexion will occur that will cause your shins to just barely touch the bar. The same rules apply to the set up : chin tucked, chest up, back flat, drive through heels and finish tall firing the glutes through.