5 Things About Deadlifts Your Trainer Wants You To Know

Time to read: 4 mins

1. Why it's the Complete Full Body Workout

Want sculpted glutes? (I mean, who doesn’t?). Compound movements (i.e. uses two or more joints in the body) such as deadlifts incorporate more muscle groups in the body than nearly all other weight lifting exercises, so they are great at building definition in the lower body.

The deadlift works all of the prime mover and most of the synergistic muscles in the abdomen and lower body - with emphasis on the erector spinae, lower back and upper back, along with muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus. Phew!

Gives You Great Glutes

Want ass-focused glute work to tone, lift and sculpt your butt? The Dream! If you want your butt to look like 2 juicy kiwi fruits – minus the fur, put deadlifts into your training for building strong well rounded glutes.

Research has found that the gluteals are massively activated during double and single leg deadlifts. This also translates to sporting performance with compound exercises shown to have a great impact on jump and sprinting performance with improvements from 5-15%.

Gives You Six Pack Abs

Most people would be happy with a flatter stomach, so isolating your abdominals is the way to go, right? Wrong!

Research shows that deadlifts (and other compound exercises) have shown to achieve significantly greater trunk musculature activation than isolation exercises. What this means is they get your core muscles FIRING and you can leave the Ab Roller alone!!

Core strength also plays a pivotal role in sports performance, with greater stability allowing for greater force production and transference from the lower to upper extremities (legs to arms).

Promotes a Muscle Building Furnace

Large muscle group exercises such as squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and jump squats significantly increase the stimulation and release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone (TST) and growth hormone (GH). These hormones are needed for optimal gains in strength and hypertrophy (building muscle).

The most advantageous training strategy for the release of TST has been reported as 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions performed close to repetition-maximum loads. Therefore you need to lift heavy to get results!

2. The Correct Start Position

In performing the deadlift there are two grip options. The first involves a normal overhand (pronated) grip, with the second being a mixed overhand (pronated) and underhand (supinated) grip.

This latter grip is sometimes called “offset,” “reverse,” or “alternate” grip.

Starting position:

  • Feet are placed between hip and shoulder width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards.

  • Elbows should be fully extended and feet flat on the floor with the bar over the first lace of the shoe (approx 3cm from shins).

  • Hips should be higher than knees and lower than shoulders.

  • Natural curvature of the spine should be evident with the chest up and out and scapulae retracted.

  • Traps should be relaxed and stretched and the head up looking forward or up and shoulders over or slightly in front of the bar.

  • Take the weight of the bar whilst taking a deep inhalation to brace and help stabilise the spine.

3. How to Perform the Concentric Upward Movement

This consists of:

  • A forceful extension of the hip and knees (pushing through the heels).

  • The movement should hinge around the hip and not the lumbar spine.

  • Hips should not rise before the shoulder and this is often referred to as a bum shuffle (don't do it as it increases the strain on the lumbar spine).

  • It is also important to leave the arms locked out, so all the force acting on the bar is through the legs.

  • The bar should be kept close to the body throughout the movement.

  • At the top of the lift, push your hips forward and come to a standing position.

  • Finish with a completely upright posture to complete the concentric phase of the lift.

4. How To Perform the Eccentric Downward Movement

  • From this point the bar should either be lowered in a controlled manner back to the start position or dropped back down to the platform ready to commence the next repetition.

  • Do this by pushing your hips back and squatting back to your original position, the back should remain flat throughout this eccentric lowering of the bar.

5. The Most Common Faults with the Deadlift

The most common fault when carrying out the deadlift is to lift with incorrect posture and thereby suffer a great amount of flexion in the lumbar or thoracic regions of the spine.

Possible causes for this include poor trunk control, particularly in the lower abdominal region as well as around the scapula throughout the eccentric phase of the lift. Poor flexibility in the hamstring muscles can also lead to poor posture when executing a lift.

Failure to maintain good posture causes undue stress to the spinal discs, by pinching the front and leaving a gap at the back, forcing the internal fluids to compress towards the back, and potentially causing herniated discs! Also, the compression can squeeze the spinal roots of the spinal cord, causing nerve-conditions like lumbago or sciatica.

In summary, start deadlifting if you aren’t doing it already!

Focus on getting that form correct and if in any doubt, consult a qualified trainer.

Happy deadlifting!

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