Monday, June 7, 2010

More on the Deadlift

More on The Deadlift: Preparation and Technique

The deadlift is the king of all the lifts out there. Now some might say the squat is, but I would have to say that the deadlift trumps it simply from the difficulty it provides, both mentally and physically. Let's look at the deadlift a little closer and see how it should be prepared for and done.

The posterior chain is the main target of this lift. The posterior chain includes, but is not limited to the hamstrings, glutes, and calves, lower and upper back, and plantar fascia. Yes, the plantar fascia. Although, these muscles appear at first glance to be inactive, they are not. The plantar fascia plays a significant role in lower leg stability, much like the bicep stabilizes the arm during a bench press(more on that later). Since the deadlift starts at the feet, the first muscles that fire along the kinetic chain are the plantar fascia of the feet. If this muscle is tight or damaged in any way it will travel up the entire leg, ultimately, affecting the hip drive needed to complete the lift, not to mention the ankle, knee, and hip issues that can occur.

So, what are some solutions to this problem? Before deadlifting, use a tennis ball, and roll the plantar fascia of the foot. For those new to myofascial release, the plantar fascia is located in the arch of the foot. Also, make sure to roll the surrounding muscle tissues that may feel tight as well. Some of these include the calves, hamstrings, and glutes (but you do that already don't you, hint, hint).
The next part that I feel is also very essential is hip drive. When teaching the deadlift, it is key to teach the client or athlete how to arch the back, elevate the chest (thoracic extension for you anatomy guys) and push the hips down toward the ground and explode into hip extension. This takes time to do simply because most people do not know how to use their hips to provide motion. They will instead try to use the low back.

The best way to teach hip extension is by going through a proper hip and low back warm up. Some of the exercises I like to use with my clients are hip bridges from the floor with no load (beginner) for 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps to loaded hip extensions using a 45lb Olympic bar (intermediate/advanced) for 2-3 sets of 12 reps, then doing some reverse hyperextensions off a Swiss ball for 2-3 sets of 15 reps or 45 degree hyperextensions for the same set and rep scheme. I have used this warm-up with great success with my clients and have kept their low backs healthy and strong with this warm-up. One thing to remember with your warm-up - it’s just that a warm up. It shouldn’t take you any longer than 10 minutes to do.

With all that being said, the only thing left for you to do is to put these things into practice and get to deadlifting and watch the numbers go up.

Charles Gardner, B.S, CPT, ISSA SPN, Licensed Precision Nutrition Coach

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