Having a safe dead lifting technique is extremely important. In fact, if your technique is even slightly off there is a good chance you could eventually sustain some sort of injury.
One of the most overlooked areas of the dead lift is the need to have the shoulders fixed in a strong position through out the movement. Follow the tips below from long-time resistance training expert and core/pelvis/shoulder-control master Simon McCarthy.
The safest position for your shoulders is:
- Shoulders down: activating your Lats.
- Shoulders back: activating your rhomboids.
- Shoulders externally rotated: activating the posterior delt and posterior rotator cuff muscles.
This down, back and externally rotated position locks your shoulders in place.
Then you want to 'grip and rip' the bar: squeeze the bar/kettlebell and slightly externally rotate your hands as if trying to snap the bar in half with both hands. This will assist in locking your shoulders in place and hence keeping them safer.
Things you must avoid:
1) Loose shoulders: by not effectively placing the shoulder in the above position (down, back and externally rotated) your shoulders become 'loose'. Loose shoulders easily roll forward.
2) A fingers-only grip on the bar: if you can’t grip it with our entire palm as well as fingers, it’s too heavy and you should drop the weight down.
3) Finally; keep your ego in your back pocket. If you can’t grip the bar it’s too heavy, drop the weight. If you can’t keep your shoulders back it’s too heavy, drop the weight. If you can’t externally rotate your shoulders, drop the weight, it’s too heavy. Are you starting to see the pattern? ;)
To help strengthen your shoulders and improve your technique try these exercises:
Kettlebell Hand Cuff Good Mornings (video 1)
- Holding a Kettlebell behind you, focus on squeezing your core and tipping your pelvis backwards so your pubic bone pulls up towards your belly button.
- Lock your shoulders in the down, back and externally rotated position, the kettlebell will help your shoulders stay fixed.
- Preform the exercise as you would a good morning or Romanian dead lift.
- Reset your pelvis and shoulders into the desired fixed position between each rep.
2. Superman Kettlebell Good Morning (video 2)
-Hold the kettelbell on your chest by the sides of the handle, with the handle under your chin.
- Engage the core and tilt the pelvis as you did in the first exercise.
- Pull your shoulders down and back while mimicking superman tearing his shirt open.
- Once you have a very firm and controlled grip on the handle, bend at the hips to 90 degrees or where is comfortable for you to maintain good form (no rounding at the shoulders or back)
- Drive yourself back up to standing position by pushing your hips forward (no arching the back)
- You should not feel your lower back at any time. If you do it means your pelvis has become disengaged or your shoulders have dropped forward.
Important things to note:
Start light…really light, this is harder than it looks if you are correctly holding your core and shoulders in the fixed, engaged position for every rep. This will take some time to master so be patient. If you struggle with this exercise you shouldn’t be dead lifting. And remember; put your ego in your back pocket. No one is watching and no one cares how much you lift. Be safe, not tough.
See you in the studio :)