Today is deadlift day, and unlike many when they hear “deadlift day”, I’m truly excited. When I started training at 16, like all young guys I lived to train chest and arms. While I still love that chest pump, I have to be straight up, the deadlift is without question my favourite exercise, bar none!
Why you ask?! The challenge.. There is no spotting, no cheating or hiding. It’s you, the bar, your headphones, your favourite playlist, and how hard you want to go. It employs your ENTIRE body and is a good gauge of your overall strength.
When it comes to deadlifting, after 20 years of training, making mistakes, getting silly injuries and learning the hard way, the one piece of advice I can’t stress enough is LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR. You only get one back, don’t worry about what anyone else is lifting, you’re training for YOU, not to impress anyone else. The strength will come with time, and if you are patient and consistent you will have a bulletproof lower back.
If you haven’t deadlifted before I highly suggest reading my blog on volume training and employing it with your deadlifting regime to get used to the movement with high volume at a comfortable weight. This will test you without overloading your lower back and build a good foundation for when you move onto challenging yourself with with higher weight and lower reps.
There are many different types of deadlifts, but let’s look at the form of the conventional deadlift.
Load the bar and collar the weights so they don’t move during your lift. If you are starting out and can’t lift 45lb/20kg plates, use blocks or the power rack to elevate the bar to where it would sit if larger plates were loaded.
Position your feet between hip & shoulder width apart, with your shins close to the bar.
Bend forwards and ‘grip’ the bar shoulder width apart, so when you lift, your hands and knees don’t touch. Double overhand grip is good, some go with one over, one under. I personally don’t like this grip as I like to keep my body symmetrical when lifting.
Sit your butt down keep your chest out, shoulders back and head up. It is VERY important to maintain a neutral (straight) spine throughout your lift to avoid injury. Keep the bar as close as possible to your body as you go through the movement.
Take a deep breath, engage your core, back and shoulders to ensure you maintain a neutral spine. Drive through your heels/mid foot and pull the bar up. It is important that your whole body rises at the same time, we don’t want to see your butt coming up first then your chest. While it looks great when a pole dancer does it, it’s not the form we are after.
Towards the top of the lift, squeeze those shoulders back and and drive those hips forwards with your glutes.
A couple of things to repeat to yourself as you go through the lift, core tight, chest up and open, arms straight, keep the bar as close to your body as possible.
During the eccentric phase, make sure you unlock your knees and hips at the same time, keep your core strong and chest up, sit back into it, kiss the bar down on the ground and drive up for your next rep.
As with most exercises injuries often occur during placing the bar down on the last rep as people feel the work is done once the weight has been lifted and forget their form on the way down. So ensure you maintain your form until you let go of the bar.
Time to hit those deads!
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