Deadlift Tips

The deadlift is much like a squat. The weight is resting on the shoulders. (The hands attach to the arms, which attach to the shoulders!). The load is through the core, hips, legs and feet into the ground. The hips are higher in the start position of the deadlift than in the bottom position of the squat. The deadlift uses starting strength where as the squat utilizes a somewhat elastic component in coming out of the bottom, unless one is doing pause squats. Those are the major differences.

The first tip is when doing the pull from the floor one should cue/focus leading with the heart. The hips and shoulders should rise from the bottom position at the same time. Novices and tired lifters tend to lift the hips first, which puts too much load onto the lower back. When leading with the heart is the focus and coaching point, the hips will follow in the optimal sequence if the one is strong enough in the core. If core weakness is present, then the core will collapse in front and the back will round putting undue pressure onto the discs of the spine.

A related tip is to focus on pushing the feet into the floor. When the focus is lifting the weight, novice lifters will tend to dip and attempt to jerk the bar free from the ground. This “technique” will tend to collapse the core and raise the hips. If, on the other hand, the focus is to first push the hips through the floor and then lead with the heart, optimal technique as well as the lowest risk for injury can be maintained while one pulls the bar to a full upright position.

The next tip is how to address the bar. The bar should be over the toe foot junction with the feet turned out at 7-15 degrees. An over under grip is used in order to lesson the chance of a weak grip allowing the bar to drop. Pull the hips low and the shins forward in order to pull with the hips and the back. When the focus is to “bend over” in order to deadlift, the hips tend to start too high. When the focus/cue is to “pull yourself under the bar” the hips tend to be in an optimal position.

The chest should be “big” with the shoulders back and a large breath of air locked into the lungs in order to create pressure within the core in order to resist core collapse. Just like in a heavy squat, a heavy deadlift needs big intra-core pressure in order to resist core collapse and possible back injury.

Over all, the deadlift is a safer lift than the squat as the bar is in the hands and can be dropped at any time. The big risks occur when the hips rise first or the bar drifts away from the shins as the load is lifted. If this happens it is very common to feel a shift in the low back and the back will spasm with the muscles locking in order to protect the spine from injury.

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