Setting up properly for lifts is an overlooked aspect of training from what I’ve seen in the general population and something we make sure to nail down when teaching our athletes movements. I can think back to my football playing days and my participation at Michigan’s football technique camp where at least 30 minutes of each day was spent on stance and setup in order to get off the ball quickly and effectively. How can you effectively execute a lift safely and properly if the setup is not consistent? Set yourself up correctly in every lift in order to set yourself up for progress. In the picture below we can see where this would go if he started his set like this…
How many times has someone seen this in training? It’s not always the person’s fault because they may not know better but that’s one major way we can impact our athlete’s training. The deadlift is another prime example of a misunderstood lift that people think causes back pain. Dan John has said many times that people have told him that squatting or deadlifting hurts their back. His response, “No, how you are doing those things is hurting your back.” Of course, we will pick more back friendly exercises such as trap bar deadlifts and single leg variations of lifts but you’re missing the boat if your setup is not correct to start with. The cues listed below are ideas to get people to stay in good alignment from the back of the neck through the tailbone. They can be applied to many lifts and there are probably 50 other cues that coaches use to help their athletes lift safely and effectively.
- Get tall
- Chest up
- Chin tucked
Sometimes it’s about taking a step back and realizing that results and effectiveness can be as simple as performing consistently and appreciating the setup of your training on each day.