The Issue With The Deadlift
What You are getting yourself in for
Word Count - 1000 Words
Reading time - 5 Mins
Topic - Deadlift
The Deadlift, in my opinion, is a superb exercise. Why?
Learning it WELL will cross transfer into a lot of your other lifts.
For the posterior chain, I don’t think anything beats it.
It’s really damn fun pulling lot’s of weight off the floor.
However, the Deadlift, has some ‘baggage’ with it.
Injury risk is high, especially on lower rep ranges.
It’s MASSIVELY taxing on your CNS.
It’s massively taxing on your low back recovery.
It’s more often than not, performed absolutely incorrectly.
Performing the Deadlift
A lot of the time, people will set up the Deadlift well, they will pull the first rep, but from there, in my eyes, it can all go wrong. It’s in the name - DEAD-Lift, we are lifting a DEAD weight, it’s not called a BOUNCE-lift, we want to get strong at pulling weight from the floor, in a dead-stop fashion.
Now I’ve ‘been there, done that’ with the bouncy reps on Deadlifts… And I’ll tell you what it did.
Cause technique breakdown.
Low back pain and issues.
Struggling to get stronger as I was only as strong as the bounce.
Never getting the most out of the exercise.
So PLEASE, take away the ego, set up the Deadlift in a fashion where you hit the floor, re-set and pull again, you are now deadlifting, and you’ll gain all the cool benefits of doing so!
Other queues I like to think about when Deadlifting are -
Bringing the bar close to shins, but not directly on them.
Having the bar in line with my scapula.
Shooting hips up, stretching hamstrings and then placing them in position.
Hips should only be set at a level where they DO NOT shoot up when you initially go to pull.
Place pressure through the mid-foot (some people like the heel, but I find for most this tilts them too much back and hips too low).
Upper back tight - think elbows back as if you could wrap your elbows around the bar.
Finish straight, don’t hyper-extend.
Lower controlled, but not overly controlled eccentrics.
So, once you’ve NAILED the deadlift, you can now progress to HOW we are going to situate it in a Bodybuilding Programme.
Programming the Deadlift
The issue I see, is that the generic bodybuilding splits - push pull legs, don’t really allow room for the Deadlift to be put in well, without sacrificing something else due to lower back fatigue.
For example - if we are Deadlifting on a ‘Pull’ day, the next day we hit legs, our low back will be fried and therefore chances of Squatting well are pretty much in the gutters.
If we are on a upper lower split, the way to work around this is to situate a Deadlift on a lower body day, and proceed to only perform secondary moves that are low back supported, for example - Deadlift, Hack Squat, Leg Curls, etc. You have to learn to PRIORITISE with low back loading, you can’t expect to….
Stiff leg deadlift
ALL in the same training week, without some low back complications, this may not be injuries, but it will be excessive low back loading and can lead to workouts being negatively affected.
On a push pull legs split, switch to pull push legs off, and deadlift at the start of the week.
On a upper lower split, do as mentioned above, switch between DL and squat on lower body days.
Switch rep ranges so that you aren’t always hitting heavy deads, you can rotate a lighter session, followed by a heavier, then a mid rep range…
Rotate variations also! - I like to use deadlift, stiff legs and rack pulls. I have seen people have great success with deficits, pauses, trap bar and perhaps snatch grip dl’s also!
Accessories for the Deadlift
As a Bodybuilder, I think we should use straps IF they enable us to shift more load. Your grip strength can be built massively by not using straps for sure, but do we really want to build that if the specific goal is hypertrophy??
If you can be just as strong, with no issues, using no straps, then go for it, I’ve spent years Deadlifting without straps. I personally like them now because it just allows me to crack on with the lift and forget totally about grip and whether the bar is creating giant calluses on my hands. As for a belt, I don’t use one personally anymore, the rationale behind this is due to me simply wanting to learn how to brace without one, I was relying too much on the belt to help me stay tight and it was actually causing MORE low back issues and pain, so I really do believe that if you can Deadlift well without a belt, keep it that way :)
The Main Take Homes
You can deadlift in a bodybuilding split, you just need to do them PROPERLY and situate them well.
If something isn’t working, change it, don’t fry yourself into the ground doing something that simply does not favour you.
The deadlift, and it’s variations, are superb, you should be doing them in my opinion.
If you can’t deadlift due to pain, sometimes it’s as simple as a form fix, but please have someone who knows what they are doing, have a look at your form, or video yourself to stay accountable.
Any questions on this guys, let me know! If there's anything you'd like to see written about also, send me across an email - firstname.lastname@example.org