Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration Certification, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knees, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)
It always gets me, what’s up with all the PR talk and promotion of super heavy deadlifts? Is it just me? I don’t get it. When did that become a thing for the general population? Don’t get me wrong, I get wanting to achieve a goal or see progress but why are so many people putting so much emphasis on the deadlift and heavy deadlifts at that? Was that really a goal of the client or your own? Or did someone else tell you to push for it? There is a big difference in your own goals and someone else’s goals…just saying. Renowned Strength Coach, Mike Boyle, has even asked, “does your grandma need a 300 pound deadlift to live her life better?” More importantly is the toll such a goal places upon the body even worth trying to achieve it?
I’m not unfamiliar with what it is like to deadlift heavy, however, I didn’t build my strength by chasing deadlift numbers.
Anyway, I will end my little soapbox rant for now. I just feel that there is just too much emphasis on load and not enough on movement. I get it, you can’t lift super heavy and train movement at the same time but shouldn’t that be something you work on? Shouldn’t that actually be the goal? Being able to move in one plane of motion and resist force in another? Is that what true strength is? Many people will write off functional training because they can’t lift anything close to significant loads once we introduce more complex movement to an exercise. However, that is one of the BIGGEST signs we need to think more of just going heavy, how about going heavy while moving?!
People often neglect the idea of functional training that is mentioned above “complex motions and postures, and in an environment that preserves balance and joint stability…”
Where am I going with this right? Well, I guess I just want to open your eyes up to other variations of deadlifts, ones I feel actually work the posterior chain much better than just the traditional deadlift.
So you might be saying, how can there really be anything different or better than good ole’ deadlifts? “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Sometimes we don’t know something is broken until we look at it with the right glasses. The glutes, for example, are triplanar muscles, which is means they are suppose to produce and resist force and help our body move in all 3 planes of motion.
Learning to decelerate is just as important to our posterior chain and functional strength as is force production. When we focus on only lifting in a very stable environment and just up and down, we lose an opportunity to build great functional strength and injury resilience. That is why how we think about strength needs to evolve beyond just the load we see because many stressors on the body that are important are ones we can’t measure in the weight we lift.
Building a good foundation is key, but how we keep progressing is just as important.
There are a lot of ways you can change deadlifts not to just be different, but to actually get better. I want to break down DVRT deadlifts for you, so you can see where you can take your deadlift and why being fixated on just heavy deadlifting may be keeping you stuck back in the past.
So let’s progress your deadlifts!
First off we all know the traditional Bilateral Stance Deadlift right? That is where you can start. We learn how to properly hinge, brace our core, use our feet, and understand how our lats are connected to our core. But where do we go from there?
Lets alter our stability now, just a bit..lets take it into our Sprinter Stance Deadlift, here you will find with just the slightest bit of change to our stance this can open up a whole new world…this adds in instability by changing your stance. You would be surprised how difficult this can be for those that have never done this.
Sprinter Stance Deadlifts introduce the need to resist lateral movement and rotation. Best part, we do this in a progressive manner as trying to make a BIG leap in instability usually causes failure and lack of continued progress (the biggest reason people struggle going from bilateral deadlifts to single leg). This is also how we make Ultimate Sandbags feel just a little bit heavier instead of changing the actual weight.
So once we have the Sprinter Stance Deadlift down and we are able to stabilize and perform that movement with consistency, we can play with what we call the Rear Slide Deadlift. Using a sliding motion (with a slider like a ValSlide) allows us to remain in contact with the ground the entire time, so it helps us out with the movement. Using a slider you can play with how far back you take this slide, basically as far as you can control the movement. Just watch those hips! They like to start and move all around so, again, we are challenging the deadlift here with change in position/ stance but what else?
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Now we are also resisting lateral forces with this movement whereas in the traditional deadlift we are only resisting sagittal forces, so a little more bang for your buck right? Which means you are working more muscles! So hope you can see that maybe there is more than just our regular old deadlift. We are building strength, muscle, stability, and injury resilience, that seems like a tough reason to fight against using better progressions of the deadlift.
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