Primal Analysis: Is Your Deadlift Underachieving?

February 08, 2016 David McAuliff

Primal-Analysis-header There's an old saying that is spoken in most down 'n dirty hardcore gyms... You can't cheat the grind. Some things in life, you cannot schmooze your way around... no matter how creative, witty, bold, or ingenious you may be. The deadlift is one such area of life. Either you can pick up the barbell from the ground, or you cannot. It's that simple. Sure, there are the occasional fools who try to cheat an extra plate or two by deadlifting with poor form... but for the most part, they spend the majority of their time getting back surgery and complaining to co-workers about how big they *used* to be. In other words, gym rats that train back with poor form don't last very long in the gym.  Injuries happen fast with poor back training, and they keep these careless lifters home. Getting back to the deadlift... nobody can deny the massive impact that heavy deadlifting will have upon your strength and muscle size. Upper, mid and lower back is thickened and grown as a result of heavy deadlifts once a week. And while most smart lifters use it on a regular basis... the majority of them aren't doing their deadlifts CORRECTLY. Let's check out Five Top Deadlift Fails you just might be committing, and discover how you can dodge these common mistakes! Primal-Analysis-01 Leaning toward the squat A deadlift is a deadlift, and a squat is a squat, and ne'er the two shall meet. However, some deadlifters will attempt to locate some new source of hidden power (read: move more weight) by acting as if the two are somehow related and using the power squat muscles to help with their deadlifting. Keep your hips high with your shoulder blades leaning over the barbell to start.  Move the weight straight up off the ground, feeling every inch of the movement in your back muscles and minimizing the extent to which the leg muscles are involved.  The quads and in particular the hamstrings will always play a role, but it doesn't have to become a major one, if you are able to keep your focus correct. It's all about that stance Some people will attempt what can best be described as a near half-split when starting the deadlift. Sorry, but your legs are not that long, and you are certainly not that tall. You should keep your feet at around shoulder width's length apart, and perhaps a bit closer if you have shorter legs. You may think a lower base from wider legs will mean you don't have to move that heavy deadlifting bar quite as far, thus making the repetition shorter (and easier).  In reality, in doing so you are undermining your own strong legged-base, the foundation upon which the deadlift is built. Don't pull concrete from your house's foundation to make the roof look nicer! Primal-Analysis-02 Your arms are hooks An amateur lifting move - often committed by advanced lifters - is to use the biceps to help "curl" up the weight. Yes, it may help move the weight another fraction of an inch. But in doing so, you are removing the emphasis from the back muscles (the point of this workout) and awkwardly transferring the force to your biceps, hips, and neck. Not only is this a waste of time, but it can also be highly unproductive when you end up missing 4 months of gym time due to a torn bicep!  That lone bicep, no matter how rugged or peaked, cannot curl the 400 pounds you're trying. You're begging for a torn bicep by training in this manner. Gloves off! Unless you are a world class pianist who makes millions of dollars each year due to your dexterous mastery of the ebony and ivory, it's probably time to man up and leave the gloves at home. They protect the hands - but from what?  The callouses which make your grip stronger and firmer? A wider bar (which gloves' presence creates) is harder to grip, thus shortening your sets and limiting your muscle and strength gains. Additionally, many top lifters feel the bar loses accuracy of lift when gloves are present to skew the feel. Be smart, and tough.  Skip the gloves! The bottom line is that the deadlifts works wonders in terms of building muscle mass and strength - as long as you're doing it correctly.  Chalk up, train hard, take your supplements, eat wisely, get lots of rest, and deadlift right - the results will be outstanding!

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