There are no less than a million exercises out there from which to choose. All promise “something”. Some just get you tired, like poorly performed burpees, but some, like those I’ll be looking at over the next few weeks, really do deliver the goods like improving your ability to run better and reduce injury risk.
Today I’d like to highlight one of the most effective exercises one can do to improve their performance, the deadlift. This “basic” lift NEVER goes out of style and it strengthens the entire backside of the body, which is essential if you want to run stronger and faster.
While we could spend a whole weekend getting into all of the nuances of this amazing lift, I’d like to address two common issues I see all the time.
Before we start, here’s a little Deadlift 101 for you. Your back should be straight and you should lift with your legs while your upper body braces. Hopefully before attempting to lift a single pound, you’ve mastered the ability to hinge at the hips.
Only use your controllable range of motion. If your back rounds, you’ve gone too low. For beginners, start with dumbbells and do the dumbbell deadlift with the weights along the side – not in front of – the body .
Once you’ve mastered the dumbbell deadlift and can do 10 reps with at least 35lbs in each hand, you’re ready to try the barbell deadlift.
I recommend lifting from blocks (I’ll use aerobic steps if lifting blocks are not available) until you can lift 115-135lbs (unless you have bumper plates available). This allows you to simulate lifting from the floor, but is safer because you are less likely to round your back.
If you’re lifting over, say, 185 lbs though, cut the aerobic steps some slack and invest in something more durable, like lifting blocks. Or try the trap bar deadlift, which is one of my personal favorites.
To really get the most out of the deadlift, the intention has to be to STRONGLY “push the floor away!” as you lift.
I never grip the bar and think, ‘ok, now I’ll just stand up with the weight’.
That’s friggin lame and won’t get you very strong.
Instead, choke the bar tightly, brace up, and focus on pushing the floor away as hard as you possibly can.
See the difference? It’s huge.
If your intention is to get stronger, you’ve got to bring that intention to every rep and make it count. In this case, by focusing on pushing the ground away, the weight will almost lift itself!
Go ahead give it a try and feel the difference!