Excited about weight lifting but nervous about injury? Nail your deadlift by following these simple tips and learn exercises that will improve safety and allow you to lift more weight.
Added bonus: these exercises will also improve your core strength, glute strength and your posture.
Proper Deadlift Technique: It’s all in the back
When you’re performing a deadlift you want to ensure that your upper back is in a solid neutral position. When lifting heavy weights, most people round their shoulders forward both on the way up and the way back down. Rounding your shoulders forward even slightly leads to rounding your upper back and thoracic spine and eventually to rounding your lower back.
A lot of people don’t have the strength in their upper back to maintain the proper position when they deadlift. Rounding your shoulders and back is ineffective for lifting maximal weight and creates a danger zone for injury (besides being terrible for your posture).
Easier said than done though right? Luckily there are exercises that can help with correct deadlift posture.
Exercise #1 – Tube Walking
Activates and strengthens glutes and upper back
For this exercise you will need some mini bands. They are a great, inexpensive way to add some resistance to a lot of exercises. Place one band around your knees, another around your ankles and use one for your hands.
Sinking in to a bit of a quarter squat, push your hips back, arms to your side, and push out on the bands.
Now you are going to step to the side with the lead leg and lift and resist with the trailing leg.
Walk 10-15 steps to each side. Make sure you are pushing out with your hands with your elbows at the side which will activate your upper back.
This strengthening exercise will help keep your shoulders in the proper position when you deadlift. Using the mini-bands activates your glutes to help you lift more weight. This exercise will improve your posture, your lifting position and activate your glutes.
Exercise # 2 – Plank and Weighted Plank
Strengthens abdominals, lower back and inner core muscles
Another exercise to improve your deadlift is a regular plank. Most people can hold a plank for more than a minute. Most reps of a deadlift last for a few seconds. With heavier weights, it requires a maximal bracing effort from your core. If you add weight to your plank, you can replicate this maximal bracing of your core.
For maximum core recruitment in your plank try pulling your elbows towards your hips. Your arms won’t move because the ground will hold them still. Then get a partner to add weight to your lower back.
Aim for 30 seconds and once you’ve achieved this, increase the weight the next workout.
Exercise #3 – Weighted Prone Cobra
Strengthens upper and lower back, improves posture and deadlift form.
Another exercise that helps with your deadlift is the Prone Cobra with weights. Lie on your stomach with your hands behind you at a 45 degree angle. Engage your upper back, your lower back and holding that good postural position, lift your upper torso and feet off the ground.
Turn your thumbs up towards the ceiling, lift your legs up and keep your head in neutral. Work on holding that position with the weights, building up to 30 seconds. Once you’ve achieved that, you can slowly increase the weights.