Last weekend I had the pleasure, again, of doing a workshop at Crossfit BG with Bob Clark and the crew. I had done a couple last year and they had been a lot of fun and this one was no exception. The workshop covered all things deadlifting and we looked at warm up ideas, breathing, deadlift technique and why we want to maintain a neutral or fixed spinal position.
We started off looking at the Jefferson lift and why it may not be a great exercise to have in your program once you look at the pro’s and con’s of the lift. As a more general piece on spinal mechanics and the good and bad regarding spinal flexion and the benefits of manitaining a more neutral spine this article by Greg Lehman is a really good read. I’d also recommend this podcast on The Movement Fix with Dr Stuart McGill where he talks in more detail about what is going on in the Jefferson Lift plus lots of other intersting material. The short answer is that loading the spine in this manner, the Jeffereson lift, isn’t great for spinal health in the long term and can be best looked at from the point of of view that we can have a (very) mobile spine or a strong spine but we can’t have both.
We then moved onto warming up for deadlifting and what I consider this entails. For me this means getting the hips moving and using movements that encourage a stiff spine so that we are both warming up and teaching the decoupling of the hips and torso. For this I usually recommmend goblet squats, lateral lunges, reverse lunges, hip aeroplanes and single leg stiff leg deadlifts.
The goblet squats and lunges really warm the hips up well whilst the hip aeroplanes especially are a great drill for teaching movement at the hip over movement in the spine and can be progressed from having both feet in conctact with the ground to balancing on one leg.
We then moved onto the deadlift itself. Two of the bigger cues/echniques that I use are thinking of bending the bar to really engage the lats and pushing rather than pulling off the floor. Getting the lats really engaged helps to stiffen the torso given that they attach to the spine from T7 all the way down to the sacrum and the idea of bending the bar also really gets the upper back involved. Thinking of pushing off the floor encourages keeping a good back angle rather than pulling which can cause you to loose shape during the initial pull.
Of those who attended two had just been members for a few weeks and both felt they couldn’t deadlift but were happily displaying great technique very quickly once we got under way. Then to finish the day off Bob pulled a PB deadlift of 220kg, a fantastic way to finish off a great afternoon.