The Deadlift is one of the most used exercises in the gym. It is also one of the ultimate functional exercises. We use it in daily life more than any other lift… picking up items from the floor, picking up your kids, carrying heavy objects etc.
SO if we use this movement so often, why do so many people have bad backs?
Over time our lifestyles cause our posture to deteriorate. We are so frontal dominant. Sitting, driving, using tools, using laptops and phones. These daily tasks cause us to make poorer use of our midline (core/abs) and legs, so when then rely further on our backs to carry load, even if we don’t realise we are doing it. We forget how to active our midline and forget how to push through our legs.
Deadlifting the best exercise to fix this issue and reverse the damage done to our backs. BUT, we need to do it properly. These 3 tips are a fantastic start to deadlifting well.
1. Push, Don’t Pull
This cue directly addresses the issue we commonly have, pulling things from the floor with our back. So rather than aiming to grab the bar and pull, imagine yourself trying to push the floor beneath you, or push the Earth down. By focusing on pushing down we are able to activate our legs far more effectively making our legs the prime force generator, meaning our back can now work as a supporter… ie, what it is intended to do.
2. Keep the Bar Close
Thinks of a class 3 lever… if the weight is situated further away from the fulcrum, the effort must either: 1. increase dramatically or 2. shift further towards the weight in order to lift it. So with a deadlift, if we move the bar away from our body our legs can no longer sustain the force required to lift the bar. The weight is simply too far away. Therefore our back takes over to try pull the weight.
So keep the bar close to your body at all times, this will help ensure better use of your legs and safe use of your back.
3. Stay Active
Commonly we see people deadlifting heavy weight, straining and leaning back to complete the lift. This is not ideal. Yes, maybe for the 140kg Powerlifter that has spent endless hours on building up his back strength through accessory exercises, it might pass. But for us everyday folk looking to get stronger, avoid injury, and live actively, lets avoid it.
The leaning back position commonly causes us to disengage our core and relax at the top of the lift, sitting on our hips to take the load.
If we want to build up the strength of our legs, back and core through deadlifting so we can achieve the lifestyle goals we are after, make sure you stay active at the top of the lift. Once you have initiated the movement by pushing the floor down, keep pressing and aim to straighten your legs as the top, in particular your knees. By keeping your legs and torso straight, we maintain tension in our hamstrings, glutes, quads and our back and core… we are rock solid, we are strong.
Practice these tips, feel free to ask us for any more help with your deadlift. If you want to give CrossFit a go and learn a tonne more about moving well. Give our free trial a go.