When we talk about building strength and getting “jacked”, you can’t leave out deadlifts, right? RIGHT! Hold on there, Chief Liftheavy. Don’t go loading up that bar with those big weights that you can’t tell how many pounds they are just yet! We’ve got a lot to do before that happens. Maybe, just maybe you aren’t ready for that yet, and I’ll tell you why.
Hip Hinge. Have you heard this term before? If you haven’t, whoever taught you how to deadlift has a lot of learning left to do before they pick up a weight. If you have never been properly taught how to hip hinge, you probably shouldn’t be loading up barbells with weights. The end result of that could be traumatic to your results, your lower back, and your insurance rates. A short version of explaining the hip hinge is bracing your abs like you are about to be punched in the gut, then you stick your butt into the wall behind you. There are a few other things to be aware of when learning the hinge, but for this purpose we will just leave it at that. If you haven’t learned to do this, then more than likely you are deadlifting incorrectly. You are probably putting excessive load on your lower back and not using your hips to their ultimate potential. Both of these things equate to a far from optimal deadlift, and a MASSIVE increase in injury potential. This leads to a likelihood of you stopping deadlifting, squatting and in general, working out because of your newly acquired back pain.
If you’ve taken some time to learn this hip hinge, then you can get along with the finer points of the deadlift. WAIT! Before you add those weights, look at other parts of the body as well. Are the knees turned in, putting undue pressure on them? Is the upper back rounded or are those shoulders packed and strong? In order to start loading heavy weights, shouldn’t we put our body in the strongest position possible AS WELL AS the safest position possible. Most people miss that last point there. Safety first, kids!
Ok. Now that we’ve got that, let’s start to pack on that weight. WAIT. Let’s get strong on each leg individually, shall we? We don’t want one leg to overpower the other when we plant both feet on the ground, do we? If that happens, won’t we develop some imbalances? My guess is yes. So get strong on both sides, individually. I’m not talking about “the rounded back speed the dumbbell down to the floor and then zipping it back up”. I’m talking about REALLY getting strong and controlled one leg deadlifts through a hip hinge on each leg. THEN, when we get to loading a bar up, we won’t just pull and extend the right side, ripping muscles that aren’t meant to be ripped. We’ll have a good foundation to lift from. Practice one leg deadlifts until you form a good balance of strength on both sides, so there is less of a chance of one side dominating over the other.
Now, let’s do the deadlift that you are all thinking of. Once we’ve learned to hinge, have no movement patterns that are bad, and have good strength through equal sides of the body, THEN we can get after it. Unfortunately with the patience we have today, everyone wants to do the “fast track” workout. If we build the foundation, the structure gets to be stronger and more resilient. That’s really what we are looking for? No?