Three Things to Improve Your Deadlifts by Jesse Dietrick, CSCS
Deadlifts. Who doesn’t love deadlifts? They are a great exercise that demands total body strength. Functional. Effective. Hard. Whatever you want to call them, this is one exercise that is in most people’s arsenal who are trying to get fit and gain strength.
While it is a great exercise, it can be hard for a beginner to learn, dangerous if done wrong, and there always improvements even the most experienced lifters can work on. While training many clients here at Fitness Quest 10, I have noticed some queues for deadlifts that help people of all shapes and sizes. Here they are:
1.) Footwear – Believe it or not, footwear selection can play a major role when deadlifting, especially at heavier weights. Most shoes that people wear in the gym have a heal lift. What does this do? It can make it harder do drop your hips at an optimal level to lift the weight without sacrificing your lower back. Also, another name for a shoe is, “sensory deprivation chamber.” It is simply harder fire up your central nervous system to produce as much ground force contact needed to lift a heavy weight if you have shoes on your feet that are like pillows. My tip? Try wearing flat shoes, or going barefoot.
2.) Use These Queues: “Tuck your chin!”/”Don’t pull your shoulders too far back!” – I often will see a client perform a deadlift one of two ways: rounding through their whole back, or lifting their head way up and over extending through their shoulders and lower back. The issue when many people lift their chin up and pull their shoulders back is that they fall into excessive extension. What is the issue here? The biggest issue is that their anterior core and hip flexors are not engaged and excessive load can be places on the lower back. A simple fix is to keep the chin tucked and find a balance between not over flexing or extending your spine, also known as a “neutral” spine.
3.) Breathe Into Your Stomach: Take in a SUPER deep breath right now and don’t read the next sentence yet… Did you breathe into your chest which elevated your shoulders making you look like you are super pumped up? Or did you breath into your stomach raising your belly? If you did the latter, pat yourself on your back. If you breathed into your shoulders, this is a sign of stress breathing and is also a very unstable way to breathe when lifting. You may ask why, and the fact of the matter is that by breathing into your stomach you activate your diaphragm which is a major stabilizer for your core when lifting weights. By breathing into your stomach you are decreasing the risk of injury and setting yourself up to lift more.
Deadlifts are a great exercise and these three tips will help you perform them safer and more efficiently, no matter your background. Remember, grip it, and RIP it!
Check out the video below for more: