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A few tips for safe deadlifts?(8 posts)

A few tips for safe deadlifts?Alex-in-Evanston
Jan 2, 2002 7:18 AM
I was hoping somebody could give me a few tips on safe, effective deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts. I know the basics of the exercise, but I was having trouble keeping my lower back from rounding out.

I switched from leg press to squats this year, and it's been going well - so I'd like to make the same switch to a barbell exercise for the hamstrings. Besides, I'm a modest fellow and the leg curl machine makes me look like I'm humping the equipment.


re: A few tips for safe deadlifts?cincy1
Jan 2, 2002 9:10 AM
The key to safe and effective deadlifts is form. I don't recommend doing a true "stiff-legged" deadlift. There are too many bio-mechanical risks. Instead, keep your knees slightly bent. Bend from the waist while looking forward and keeping your lower back curved inward. Don't let it round out. If it does, you are probably using too much weight. You risk serious injury if you persist in doing the exercise this way. Start with a light weight and do sets of at least 12 repetitions, keeping the weight under control at all times. Don't bounce it off the floor. If you can't reach the floor with the weight due to your own particular flexibility, don't worry. Done properly, your hams get a training effect even if you only get to mid-shin. Try three sets to start, then work to five. Stretch after your workout to keep the hams flexible. Weight work like this will shorten the hamstring muscle tissue and increase your risk of pulls unless you maintain a strict stretching regimen. Good luck.
re: A few tips for safe deadlifts?weiwentg
Jan 3, 2002 6:58 AM
cincy is quite correct on this: do NOT do stiff-leg deadlifts with knees locked. unless you're very flexible and your lower back is strong.
you may wish to include back extensions in your program. and you will simply have to lower your weight on deadlifts until you can do them without rounding your lower back. if not, stick to squats and back extensions for the time being.
re: A few tips for safe deadlifts?walter
Jan 2, 2002 10:10 AM
The first thing to remember is that the DL will work glutes, hip erectors, lower back and, if you finish with a shrug, traps as much as quads/hams. This of course is good but you need to be in a starting position that allows all these muscles to come into play.

Start as flat-footed as possible. If you have squat shoes with an elevated heel, do NOT use them for the DL. In competitions lots of guys use wrestling shoes. Get your feet wider than your shoulders. You want a wide base though your not trying to pull a split here. Let your toes turn out, forcing the toes to stay in during a DL or squat is a straight line to knee problems. Your hands are inside or not quite as wide as your feet. 1 hand has a "reversed grip. Squat as deeply as you can while keeping your back straight and elbows locked. The bar is right up against your shins. Start your pull SLOW. If you try to jerk all you'll do is straighten your legs and the weight will still be on the floor. As you pull keep the bar as close to your legs as possible. In competitions some guys'll baby powder their legs so they can slide the bar up. That's a bit excessive IMO. As you pull also pull your head back to your shoulders and focus your eyes on the ceiling directly above you. This'll help keep your back straight.

Warm-up extensively by doing multiple reps with light weight. Make proper form second nature so you don't have to think about it when the weight starts to get heavy. Excellent choice IMO to switch to freeweight. You'll progress much faster than you would with machines, whatever your goals are.

I didn't address straight-leg DLs as I never was much into body-building. Good Mornings from the squat rack are more effective IMO.
re: A few tips for safe deadlifts?markmark
Jan 2, 2002 10:33 AM
i would have someone help you with this in the gym. Someone observing can better spot correct technique. Believe me, i wish had followed this advise earlier. Smith rack squats temporilary messed up my lower back due to bad/incorrect form. I am back humping and pressing the leg machines for now.

Jan 2, 2002 12:11 PM
Cincy1 is right in that you don't want to do a STRAIGHT leg deadlift. You DO want to do a STIFF leg deadlift. Difference is as cincy1 described. The key to both these movements is to retract the scapulae (shoulder blades) HARD before starting to move. Remember, the lower back tends to mimic what the upper back does. Keep the shoulders back, look up. Walter did a good job with the mixed grip, as it will aid in keeping the bar in the hands when going heavy. However, unless you have some real biomechanical problems (long femurs, very tall) with conventional grip (hands outside the legs), then I'd recommend NOT doing sumo style (hands inside the legs). With SLDL, have some one watch you, as the back will definitely round if you try to go lower than your flexibility will allow. On standard DL, get the feet into position, bend down and grip the bar, look up, pull the shoulders back and down, then pull. Don't try to lean back at the top of the lift. Unless you can keep your form ABSOLUTELY TIGHT on the descent, don't try to do touch-and-goes. Reset the grip and stance on every rep. Hope that helps.
Jan 2, 2002 4:49 PM
Actually I was wrong with hand placement. I think I must have been thinking about cleans where your hands are inside your feet. Place your hands (reversed) so they're outside your feet. Grip the bar as close to the plates as is comfortable. I agree that sumo style is unnecessary for what you're after. Of all the advice on this thread I really do think that starting slow is the most important. If you jerk the bar form and that good starting position you forced yourself into is immediately lost. Brider is dead-on about not doing fast reps either. Take time and reset. This is very much a "power" lift. Speed is not a factor here. If you want to work speed do cleans and either jerks or push presses. Excellent exercises but hard to do in many gyms as you really need rubberized weights.

I've competed some but am more of a squatter than a DLer. I really do prefer Good Mornings to SLDLs. Pick the weight up as if you're squatting. The weight should actually be higher on the shoulders than if you were going to squat. Back out of the rack, throw your shoulders back to keep the back straight, widen your stance and bend (not lean) forward from the waist. Your goal is parallel to the floor but you probably won't be exactly parallel. Stay tight and straighten up. Do this with just the bar to learn form and it's always better to have a KNOWLEDGABLE, person watch. Just b/c they work in a gym doesn't guarantee knowledge. Excellent lower back exercise and a great supplemental lift for squats and DLs. Good Luck!
Thanks all - I followed your adviceAlex-in-Evanston
Jan 3, 2002 7:46 AM
I'm feeling it this morning. My lower back became tired before my hamstrings, but I understand that the back is the prime mover so this should be the desired effect.

THanks and regards,