We’re back with another foundational movement pattern, the deadlift. In our last article, we covered the squat, so if you missed that one, be sure to check it out here: http://acceleratehealthfitness.com/booty-toning-time/. In this article, we’re going to dive in to the deadlift, common faults, corrective strategies, and finish with a series of progressions for you to try. If deadlifting has scared you in the past, it’s our mission to help you conquer those fears, understand the mechanics of a true deadlift, and perform this critical exercise with ease. So without any more delay, lets get into to deadlifting.
1. Caving in with the knees – Having the knees cave in during the deadlift is not good. You can only imagine that this will lead to knee pain. If the knee is not stable while deadlifting, a lot can go wrong. Be sure to drive the knees out while deadlifting to prevent any knee cave.
2. Too much arching in the low back (Lordosis) – During the deadlift, we traditionally see people stick their butt way out, drive their chest tall, and pretty much look at the ceiling. When you get into this position, your low back is going to pay the toll. Just like the squat, we want to maintain a neutral spine throughout. The main difference between the squat and the deadlift is how much knee bend we get. The deadlift will have minimal knee bend while the squat has a lot of knee bend. The spine should be in a neutral position for both of these foundational leg exercises. If you lose posture and position of your spine, these exercises will be no fun and probably cause more harm than good.
3. Rounded Back – Deadlifting is an amazing lift, if it’s done right. A deadlift will teach the body how to drive from the hips and generate a lot of force into the ground. However, this needs to be done with a neutral spine. Your upper body should look EXACTLY the same and have the exact same posture while deadlifting. All too often we see people round their backs while performing the deadlift. No wonder deadlifting hurts a lot of people. Try this with a neutral spine and you’ll notice a difference immediately.
4. Arms Lose Connection with the Torso – The deadlift is a full body lift. It’s not only good for your legs. It’s also good for your core and upper body as well. If you’re engaging the lats (large upper back muscles) while deadlifting, you’re going to get more out of your core and mid to upper back. Not only are you going to train your upper body statically while dynamically training the legs and hips, you’re going to save your back in the process. Keep the weight tight, engage the muscles of the upper back, and drive from the hips. Don’t let your arms lose connection with your upper body.
If you notice any of these errors while training, here are a handful of corrective strategies to try out. These may do the trick for you and start to clear up your deadlift pattern. Don’t let the simplicity of these two correctives fool you. If you have a tough time with either of these, we can almost guarantee you that you’ll struggle with the deadlift. Even if you don’t struggle with the deadlift, we highly recommend putting these two correctives into your warm-ups on deadlift day.
Toe Touch Progression
If you can’t bend over to touch your toes, it should make sense that bending over to pick up weight from the floor isn’t a good idea. This toe touch progression will help teach the core to fire and do it’s job so the hamstring and back can lose some tension. A heavy majority of the time we see someone with a limited toe touch, this exercise will add a dramatic amount of mobility and really improve the toe touch. Don’t try to deadlift until you can comfortably touch your toes. If you can’t touch your toes, give this one a shot.
Leg Lowering 1
Leg lowering is a great exercise that teaches your hips how to move without the use of your back or needing to tilt the pelvis. This simple drill done from the floor will help you control your spine and learn how to move from the hip without the need for compensation. Make sure you can clear at least 70 degrees on this drill before you deadlift. If you can’t move a leg from the floor and raise it 70 degrees without needing to compensate from tilting the pelvis or arching the low back, deadlifting will once again probably cause you more harm than good. Work on this re-patterning drill and your deadlift will get better and better.
After the deadlift pattern starts to come together, we want to reinforce it with some weight. Adding a load to a pattern teaches the body that it’s good, so ensure you’re hinging well from the hips before you add additional load. If not, you’ll just tell your body the poor mechanics are good, and that bad pattern will get engrained in your brain and you’ll be deadlifting poorly for a long-long time. Try out this four-exercise progression. We recommend starting with the first progression and getting really good at it before moving on. Try to add load as you go to challenge yourself and stick with each progression for a minimum of 2-4 weeks. Starting at the top, try adding each one of these into your workout regimen. The first exercise will not need additional load. This is there to reinforce the hip hinge, but after your hinge is down, feel free to move on to the other progressions.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series, the vertical press. Each article will progress through a specific movement pattern. By the end of this, we’ll cover each pattern needed to have a well balanced program, show you some ways to correct or enhance each pattern, give you 3-4 progressions of each, and finish with a FREE 6-Week program for you. We hope you enjoyed this one on the deadlift, so be sure to check out vertical pressing next.