Don’t Be Afraid of Deadlifts, By The 4 D Trainer in Clapham
The deadlift is the desert island of all desert island exercises, in the sense that many experts recommend the deadlift as the number one exercise that targets all major muscle groups, alas, if you happen to find yourself stuck on a desert island (lucky for you) and in lack of a gym and short of time in between scouting prey, make sure you do this.
When I first mention this rather caveman like named exercise most of my female clients look at me like I’ve finally lost it. Until. I explain that this is the only exercise you can work the muscles from the soles of your feet right through your body and into the muscles of your upper back in the base of your skull. Now it’s sounding much more rewarding and less off putting than its name!
Like all exercises, form is PARAMOUNT. Make sure you start light and controlled.
There are two styles of grips you can use in the deadlift, overhand (pronated) or a mixed overhand-underhand (supinated) (sometimes called “offset,” “staggered,” “alternating”, or “mixed” and many other hip and street things) grip. Depending on forearm strength, the overhand grip may result in the bar potentially rolling about. Some argue the mixed grip is capable of neutralizing this through the “physics of reverse torsion.” The mixed grip also allows more weight to be used for this reason. I would recommend the mixed grip, especially for beginners.
So how do we deadlift? Here’s some key coaching points.
1. keep the bar close to you and push through the floor
Load appropriate weight for a warm up set, keeping the barbell on the floor. You should be close to the bar and tight throughout your entire body and right through the bar. The first move as you begin the lift is to pull the bar into your body, NOT up. This will allow you to maintain that tightness throughout the lift. Keeping the bar or object close to your body allows you to maintain the proper center of gravity to make the lift much easier. Keep your eyeliner slightly up.
Initially, you should visualize driving your feet through the floor rather than pulling the bar up. If you are still tight up top and have a good grip on the bar, you’ll be able to let your legs do most of the work.
2. Drive Your Chest Up and Hips Forward
Once the bar leaves floor, keep pressing your feet through the floor while focusing simultaneously on bringing your chest up and hips forward. If your hips shoot up first , you’ll be doing most of the pulling with your back; if your chest comes up to fast, your knees will come forward and you will essentially be squatting the bar up.
If you’ve kept your back tight it should be easy to lead with your back and drive your hips forward towards the bar. To bring your hips and hamstrings into the lift you should give your glutes a hard squeeze.
The final move is to lockout by fully extending your knees and hips and pulling your shoulders tight, which will resemble a soldier standing at attention. Attention!
It helps to give your glutes an extra squeeze to lock them hard at the top. Also make sure to NOT pull back too hard with your chest/upper back because this will cause you to arch your low back. This will often happen if you aren’t using your glutes efficiently. Once you are tall and tight it’s okay to let out your air.
To finish the exercise and bring the bar back to the ground you will essentially do the same thing you did to start the maneuver by hinging at the hips first. Still maintaining a neutral spine, bring your hips back first and then break at the knees guiding the bar back to the start position.