IDEAL HEAD POSITION
NOT AN OPTIMAL START POSITION
The deadlift can get brushed off as the least technical of the big lifts. Pick it up and put it down….. that’s it right? Though the learning curve for the deadlift tends to be much shorter than many other compound lifts like the bench press, squat, or olympic lifts, its’ simplicity can sometimes be deceiving. Foot, hip, and head position are all crucial, and highly individual for the athlete based on limb and torso lengths. Mastering tension and breathing are also key to success in the lift. There is also a thing called leg drive that many people tend to bypass once things get heavy and wonder why their lower back is trashed for days after a session. I won’t address every factor in this short blog/video. What I do want to address are a few common mistakes we tend to correct on lifters that come to us for instruction.
One other note. You could probably Youtube some monsters deadlifting a house doing the things that this article says to avoid. Understand there is always individuality with people, but the exception isn’t the rule.
There was a horrific video a few years ago that circulated on Youtube of a “trainer” helping his client by grabbing her by the chin and forcing it up throughout the lift. Horrific isn’t the right word. Incompetence, negligence, and stupidity are all fitting, but not serious enough. Sorry I digress. Yes, extension at the neck can help facilitate the deadlift but not at the bottom of the lift when hips and knees are flexed. At the beginning of the deadlift it is important to keep a neutral neck position. Hyper-extension, especially at the bottom position puts the body at a disadvantage and causes stress on the neck and posterior chain. It is ideal to coach a neutral neck with the lifter’s eyes looking up(eye extension is not neck extension). As the lifter progresses through the lift into an upright position the head/neck should be strait or slightly extended. There are times neck extension is used in finishing a big lift at the top, but it shouldn’t be used as a main driver in the deadlift. Does this mean everyones neck has to be perfectly strait at the beginning? No. There will be degrees of variation, but a severe hyperextension is rarely ever an advantageous position.
UPPER BACK and LATS
Another common mistake we see are people that get tight by squeezing their shoulder blades together before initiating the deadlift. Engaging the lats does NOT mean squeeze the shoulder blades together. When you retract the scapula, you fully engage the rhomboids which are shoulder stabilizers. Rhomboids not meant to hold a maximal deadlift. You want to spread the shoulder blades (not round the back), and think about having long arms. Reach out and push arms down or close your armpits . Engaging your lats appropriately will allow you to have maximal stability and connect your upper back to your hips so your legs will drive the movement.
LEG DRIVE – LEG DRIVE – LEG DRIVE
The deadlift is widely known as a pull. Many times, when lifters think of pulling the weight they commonly initiate the lift by utilizing the lower back muscles. When the hips are in the right position and the lats are engaged the legs should initiate by pushing the ground away. If you have experience on the belt squat it is a good simulation of the push to initiate the deadlift.
We are kicking off our Barbell Foundations Course October 13th, 2020. A 6 Week course that will focus on the main compound lifts, Bench, Squat, Deadlift, and Power Clean. We are capping the course at 10 people. Click the button below to learn more!