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Dead Lift

Dead Lift

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Published by: BigNat7774 on Apr 16, 2009
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10/02/2010

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Deadlift The deadlift is a heavy compound movement that should be included in the exerciseprogram of any lifter. As this lift will strengthen not only the entire back, but themusculature of the hips, abdominals, and legs, as well as work the grip, proficiencyin this lift is a must. Like the squat, the deadlift will stimulate a growth responsefrom the body that should carry over into strength and size gains in other areas. There are two basic styles of deadlifting, conventional and sumo. Each style will beexplained, and compared to the contrasting style. While certain aspects of deadlifting are similar, such as the fact that the lifter is basically picking a weight upoff of the deck, and raising to the highest possible level without bending the arms, agreat many differences in biomechanics occur as a result of the differing styles. The conventional stance consists of the athlete standing with the feetapproximately shoulder width apart, or slightly narrower. To position the feetproperly, slide them forward as far as possible without moving the shoulders in frontof the bar. The hips should be as close to the bar as possible as well, but the lowerback must remain arched. The head should be elevated so that the athlete islooking forward and slightly upwards. The shoulders should be back, but slightlyrounded. Retracting the shoulders causes the shoulder girdle to elevate, increasingthe distance the lifter must pull the bar. The athlete must grip the bar tightly, and toensure that the bar does not roll, a mixed grip (one hand supinated, one handpronated) is often emplo. The true beginning of the deadlift is the set up, or the first phase (as it is known inOlympic lifting), which has already been described. The next step, before pulling thebar free from the deck is to fill the abdominal cavity with air. While drawing in asmuch air as possible, the goal is to push it down as far as possible, not fill the chestcavity. Filling the chest cavity with air elevates the shoulders, which will increase thedistance the lifter must pull the bar. The deadlift is initiated by simultaneously extending the knee and hip joints. Theknee will extend due to the contraction of the quadriceps muscles (vastus lateralis,vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris), and, during the extension,may move slightly to the rear. The hip joint will extend secondary to the contractionof the gluteus and the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, andsemimembranosus). While the entire hamstring is active to a certain degree duringthe deadlift, the semitendinosus and semimembranosus are recruited to a muchgreater degree to extend the hip joint. The bar should be pulled into the body, as well as up. This keeps the athlete fromfalling forward during the lift, as it helps maintain a far more stable combined centerof gravity (CCOG). This is where the placement of the feet is a significant factor. If 
 
they are too far forward, causing the shins to be closer to the bar than necessary,the bar must be pulled around the knees, instead of past them. This shortens thelever arm distance and reduces the resistive torque. During this period, and indeed,throughout the entire lift, the musculature of the upper back and shoulders(trapezius, latissimus dorsai, teres minor, subscaris, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, aswell as the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids) will be undergoing an isometriccontraction to hold the bar in a stable position. In the arm, the biceps brachii,brachialis, and brachioradialis will also contract isometrically to stabilize the elbow joint. The forearm flexors are extremely active during the gripping of the bar. The erector spinae (iliocostalis thoracis, iliocostalis lumborum, longissimus dorsai,and spinalis dorsai) will contract during the lift, along with the intertransversarii,interspinalis, rotores, and multifidus muscles to bring the spine into an erectposition. These muscles become more active once the back is extended past a pointthat would be 60 degrees away from vertical. The inter-transversarii, interspinalis,rotors, and multifidus will also serve to stabilize the vertebrae and discs. In theconventional deadlift, the torso is inclined far more than in the sumo style, in directcontrast to recommendations for a more erect torso to reduce shear force on thelumbar vertebrae (4, 9, 12).As the bar travels past the knees, and up the thighs, several key points must benoted. It is imperative that the knees not re-bend once they have begun tostraighten. In addition to the extra strain this will put on the ligaments and tendons,secondary flexion of the knees (hitching) is cause for disqualification during acompetition. Another mistake that is often made as the lift nears completion is thelifter will try to pull the torso back, when it is far easier to simply push the hipsforward. This technique will allow the athlete to shift some of the strain from theerectors to the larger muscles of the hips, including the gluteus. At the top of thelift, the shoulders should be pulled back to indicate the completion of the lift. This isnot necessary for routine training of the deadlift, but a powerlifter should practicethis to avoid unnecessary red lights. The major difference that occurs in the sumo deadlift is the placement of the feet. They are placed much wider, sometimes even twice shoulder width, although this isan extreme. The toes are turned outward, sometimes to the point where the angleof the feet approaches 160 degrees. There are several biomechanical advantages tothis stance. The distance the bar must travel is greatly lessened as the hip angle ison average 12 degrees greater than the hip angles of conventional deadlifters,while the knee angle is approximately 13 degrees greater. (7, 12) The trunk angle issignificantly closer to vertical, which, from a pure safety standpoint, the sumostance decreases both L4/L5 moments as well as shear forces. (4) Furthermore, thesumo stance allows the lifter to keep the bar closer to the body, which shortens themovement arm to the lumbar spine. (12) This stance can reduce the total distancethe bar travels by as much as 25 40%. (7) The functional technique in the deadlift is different as well. The athlete pulling a
 
conventional deadlift will push straight down with the feet, whereas in the sumodeadlift, the knees must be pushed out over the toes. This is important, to avoidlateral shear force on the knee, as well as the fact that it allows the lifter to engagethe larger muscles of the hips earlier than in the conventional stance. As a functionof the bar being closer to the lifter, it will contact the legs earlier. As the bar slidesup the thighs, it is important to ensure that the fingers of the pronated hand are nottorn open by the friction thus generated. A modest amount of baby powder or talmay be applied to the legs to reduce the chance of this occurring.One factor that has not been discussed that makes the deadlift unique among thethree powerlifts is that unlike the squat and bench, there is no eccentric(lengthening, or lowering) portion prior to the concentric (shortening, or raising) of the bar. This has the function of negating the stretch reflex, a fact that is oftenoverlooked by many athletes and coaches alike. There is a way of generating asmall stretch reflex, which may help when initiating the lift, but nothing like thereflex that can be generated during the other two powerlifts. In the conventionalstance, a slight rocking of the hips, which will cause the knees to flex as well, can beemplo. The lift should be initiated when the hips are at the lowest point, and thismovement must occur rapidly. Care must be taken when doing this, as if the hipsdescend too far, the lifter will be at a biomechanical disadvantage.Unsurprisingly, there is a difference when using this technique when pulling sumo. This technique (often called diving ) can allow the sumo lifter to generate a greaterstretch reflex without moving out of position, unlike the conventional deadlift.Because the feet are father apart, instead of just raising and lowering the hips, thehips should be lowered rapidly then thrust forward at the bottom of the descent. This allows not only for a greater stretch reflex, but for an even more erect torsothan lifters who pull from a static position.Variations on the deadlift There are several varieties of the deadlift, and can be used not only to assist indeadlift training, but can also significantly strengthen muscles that can be impedingprogress in another lift. Some of these lifts can be used in place of the deadliftduring training as well.One of the most common variations of the deadlift is the partial deadlift, or racklockout. These are usually performed in a power rack, with the pins set at a varietyof heights. Pulls can be done from one inch above the deck to a couple of inchesbelow lockout. As a general rule, the shorter the ROM, the more weight that can behandled. The primary function of the partial deadlift is to not only overload themuscles of the back, as well as increase motor recruitment. (5, 18.) At times, theamount of weight that can be handled during the execution of a short range of motion rack pull can be so great that it surpasses the amount of weight the athlete

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