Digging Into The Deadlift

A lot of people have their go to move in the gym. For some it could be variations of the squat, for others it may be a clean or snatch. Personally, I feel as if the deadlift is the one big lift that has done me no wrong. Each of the big lifts are and will always be gold in resistance training programs and the level of ability while executing them can serve as vital benchmarks in your overall performance. And while the squat is still my favorite assessment tool, various volumes, vectors, and loads of the deadlift have become my go to movement for a number of reasons.

1. Lumbar-Thoracic Extension

Posture to me is the definitive test of someone's ability to coordinate their body and more often than not, this is something that is compromised during the 23 hours a day that you are not in the gym. The consideration that can be put into postural improvement when using appropriate deadlift patterns has been a huge assistance. Not only in stacking up the deadlift itself, but making the most of the low, mid, and upper back during squatting, pressing, and pulling.

2. The Use Of The Feet And Hands Together

I have become a big fan of being mindful of the feet and hands while lifting and the deadlift has become the poster child of this. When prepping someone for a deadlift I have adopted the cue of bending the barbell by driving the thumb forward and pushing the bottom part of the hand back into the bar. This allows for appropriate retraction and rotation of the shoulder to make the most of your posture for the lift. Coordinating this with applying force to the ground with the foot finishes this by turning on the hamstrings, glutes, as well as activating and extending the low back. You will know your position is set when you essentially have everything in your posterior chain roasted before the bar even leaves the ground. In the video below you will be able to see what I mean.

3. The Hip Hinge

A term growing in popularity but it's importance justifies its rise. The ability to coordinate well oiled movement of the hip is one of your biggest assets in making the most of the big lifts. The ability to coordinate hip hinging is a major priority for me and movements such as Romanian Deadlift variations where the hip starts and finishes the movement have become key movements. In particular for people who looking to eliminate limitations to squatting.

4. Back Line Length and Activation

A common side effect of limitations within the hip is the overuse of the quads and knees to start and finish lifts. The ability to integrate deadlift patterns have become a big tool in restoring range in the back line from heel to shoulder. This new found length and range often turns into greater activation of the back line as factors such as the heel strike, the hip hinge, and mid back extension begin to work together.

5. The Angles

The latest factor that I have come to appreciate is the versatility that the deadlift can provide. Personally, the feeling of a heavy barbell deadlift is like no other but being able to use different variables in resistance and position have added a lot of fresh movement to the workout toolbox.

My Story

I don't exactly take pride in my appreciation of the deadlift but I do want to share it due to its relevance. When I began lifting weights, like a lot of ego driven young lifters I would tend to shy away from the squat rack. I did however enjoy a lot of deadlifting and integrated a lot of them from the very beginning. Squatting began to become a bigger part of the routine but I did have to swallow my ego and learn how to actually squat. As squatting became a bigger and bigger component, the
understanding of the mechanics of it became bigger and bigger. And while I may have been one of those half assed squatters in the early weightroom days, I grew to enjoy and understand squatting and I attribute a lot of that to the pre requisites that the deadlift did provide me.