Why you need to do the Deadlift

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Monday….universally known as chest day to every gym going man/man child.

I’ve never been one to follow the trend, Mondays for me have either been a Squat or Deadlift type movement.
A few years back I was working as a personal trainer in Virgin Active in Chiswick. We had our own resident bodybuilding champion, Mr natural universe, Roger waters.
We would talk about his training methods and he mentioned he never did any Deadlifts because it was too much of a compound movement.
(Compound = exercises that uses more than one joint)

One day in the gym I overhead him talking to one of his clients, they were watching another trainer teaching a lady how to Deadlift, Rogers client watched the lady perform the exercise and then started shaking his head and scrunching up his face, he said it was too much of a compound movement and that he preferred isolation.
Roger agreed.

Let’s keep in mind that Roger is a mature trainer and performing high risk exercises at heavy loads is probably not the best. This isn’t to say that old people shouldn’t learn how to deadlift, this is purely what I know about the guy.
If you’re lucky enough to see him train, you can see that he thrives on the attention, so imagine if he tried to perform the deadlift and could only lift a small amount. Not going to happen!

I personally felt that as a trainer, you should be able to teach your clients how to perform the deadlift and make sure they do it correctly. How many times have people had to lift something off the floor?
It’s an exercise for teaching posture, body movement, breathing, control, strength and power. It’s a real world exercise!
Not only do you miss out on the strength gains but what we do know is that lifting maximal weight can increase your growth hormone.

For some strange reason I took it personally, I felt like he was giving a disservice to the client and the industry that I was working in…also here’s a picture of Arnold deadlifting, so it’s clear that bodybuilders do Deadlift.

arnold_schwarzenegger_powerlifting_deadlift

It’s important to remember that as personal trainers, our clients are completely individual. Most of the time trainers are training their clients like they would train themselves. Don’t be that guy.

Why do you need to Deadlift?

Strengthen your posterior chain.
Learn how to lift weight correctly.
Maintain trunk and thoracic alignment.
Feel like a caveman/woman when lifting.
The glutes, lower back and hamstrings, are what we call the posterior chain. These muscles work collectively to help hold your posture, generate power and speed, and works in balance with the rest of the body to help with movement.
Deadlifts also have a positive effect on our growth hormone levels, usually secreted after intense bouts of exercise, this hormone makes a very potent fat burner.
Deadlifting alone doesn’t help to lose fat, but added to a range of primal movements, this exercise is definitely one to keep in your arsenal.

How do you deadlift?

Although a very simple movement, it can be extremely technical.
The first step in coaching someone through a deadlift is looking at how their body is currently moving, what we’re looking to see is how well they hold their thoracic (mid spine), looking at how they control their trunk and hip, and whether their knees, foot and ankle is working in alignment.
Below is a video of the Wall Deadlift. This drill helps teach people to sit back and use less of your quads and more of your glutes and hamstrings.

The idea is obviously not to smash your face against the wall, the knees aren’t allowed to exceed past the foot, this forces you to tilt your hips back and use your Glute as you lift yourself up.
If you find you can’t get low enough, then your issues lies with your mobility and flexibility.

The next progression……

Rack Pull

This exercise calls for a rack, power cage or blocks.
It’s great for those with mobility issues, tight shoulders/chest. Due to the increased height of the bar, it’s easier for you to hold your posture.
Note: The picture below shows a guy deadlifting from a height. Note the rounded shoulders and lower back. The bar is way too low forcing his posture to round.

how-not-to-deadlift-bad-form

How to perform the Rack Deadlift –

Rack-pull
As you can see from the above image, the barbell is placed on the rack, level with the knees or just above.
From this position, push through the heels of your feet, force the hips forward and squeeze the glutes at the top of the motion.
Other key points –
Chest up and out
Imagine someone pulling your shoulders back and down
Grip the bar tightly
Make sure you lift from your heels.
Back flat.

This is an important exercise. It teaches you to hold your mid spine in position, locking your scapular in place. A good exercise to teach you about posture and positioning.
Once you’ve understood how to do it, progress onto the full version of the Deadlift.

The Full Deadlift

Aim for 3-5 repetitions. The Deadlift is a strength and power exercise. Performing hundreds of these for endurance doesn’t help. As you fatigue your technique is compromised and if you hurt yourself it’s your own fault.
It’s just common sense.

Key Points –
Keep bar close to legs as you lift upwards
Keep elbows straight as you lift
Drive through heels of your feet
Lift explosively through your hips.
Head position up. (There has been a big debate about whether to keep the head in alignment facing down to the floor or look up. According to strength training legend Mel Siff, flexing your neck (looking down) causes your back muscles to relax, while extending your neck helps them contract.)
Pause 2 seconds after every lift. (It is called a Deadlift for a reason. Momentum is not your friend here)

T-Nation – Controversial Deadlift Tips

As you get stronger, and are able to lift more weight.
There may be sticking points where you find that you lose your posture because the weight is too heavy.
Try Deadlifting from blocks, raising the height of the bar from the floor so that you don’t lose your posture.

If you found this helpful, please share. Remember to send your videos to me and I’ll help critique technique where I can.
Thanks for reading!

Kang
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Kang

Personal Trainer at Professional PT
Experienced & Enthusiastic Personal Trainer in Chiswick, Richmond, Twickenham, Ealing, Barnes, Kew and the whole south west london. Helping clients transform their Mind and Body.
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
Primal Flow Instructor
Kang
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