Movement Monday - The Deadlift

In last weeks post, we went through the squat. During that post, I explained how I thought the squat was the most useful movement in fitness.


This is closely followed by the deadlift.


At least this is my opinion. It is a close race between the two and highly debated in the fitness community. But I'm not here to debate. I am here to explain.


The deadlift is one of the most useful full-body movements. It has two main variants conventional and sumo. They are both encourage a massive amount of muscle recruitment to shift the most weight possible.


The deadlift is considered the bodies way to shift the most weight of the floor. This recently got proven by Hapthor when he deadlifted 501kg. Saying this if you compare the weights between deadlift and squat in powerlifting and strong man the squat comes out on top. Having the biggest world record with a 525kg. Squated by Vlad Alhazov, beating Hapthor's deadlift by 24kg.


But that's enough about squats lets get into deadlifts. Like I mentioned there are two main styles of deadlift. Conventional deadlift - this is where your feet are placed underneath your hips and hands are outside of your knees. This style of deadlift is most commonly taught in gyms and around the world as it is a safe way to move large weights off of the floor.


The sumo deadlift is a more specialised style of deadlift mostly used in powerlifting. The sumo deadlift is performed with the feet wide and toes pointed out and the hands in close. This is a more specialized style of deadlift that has been adopted by powerlifters. It suits people with longer legs because it reduces the range of motion. But this style of deadlift is harder to master and has more chance of injury due to it being more technical.


To perform a conventional deadlift, start by bringing your feet under the bar about hip-width apart. When placing your hands on the bar, make sure they are just outside the knee, drop your bum down to create a Z shape between shoulder, hips and knees. Brace the core by breathing into the abdomen and expanding your core. Pull shoulder blades back and down, this will straighten out your spine and activate the muscles in your thoracic spine. Make sure that bar is in close to the legs and drive out of the heels as you lift the bar off of the floor. As you lift make sure you have a neutral spine through the whole movement and that you maintaining a slight outward pressure on the knees to prevent injury.


The conventional deadlift has carry over into Olympic lifting. But if you believe that the Olympic lifts and the deadlift is the same movement, then this could be a reason behind why your Olympic lifts are lower than they should be. There is a big difference in how you pull the bar and how you generate force. The deadlift is a strength movement that is the best way to move the bar from the floor to your hips. The clean and snatch are power movements that involve an explosive movement to move the bar from either the floor to overhead or from the floor to the shoulders. This difference between strength and power is the difference between the conventional deadlift and the Olympic lifts.


The sumo deadlift is a bit different. For the setup, place your feet out wide. Usually, a comfortable distance so that when you bend your knees your hips are not overly tensioned. Make sure you point your toes out at about a 45-degree angle. This will keep the knees safe through the movement. When going down to the bar try and keep the chest up. Bend the knees and pull yourself into position. Bring shoulder blades back and down to engage the thoracic spine. Drive out of the heel, keeping chest ups and push the knees out as you drive up.


The sumo deadlift is a great method of deadlifting if you have long legs. It shortens the range of motion and keeps a more neutral spine position. Saying this the sumo deadlift exposes the hips and knees to a lot of pressure. Because of this, it is a movement that should be practised and mastered before trying to overload this movement to find a max.


Overall the deadlift is a versatile and useful movement to have in your toolbox. It is a movement that you should be taught correctly at the start of your fitness journey. It can be used to build hamstring, glute and lower back strength. I also believe that although it is seen as a way to lift the most weight possible it should not be used for just that purpose. I think it is a great way to build lower back endurance and this should be its main purpose especially in the sport of fitness.

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