Deadlifts are awesome, anyone can agree with that. They are considered to be the ultimate test in overall body strength.
The deadlift is predominantly a back exercise, but because it activates muscles in the lower and the upper body as well, it can be very useful for both back and leg day. To make the most out of it, you need to take into consideration the sequence and application of your workout routine.
When you deadlift, you exercise every single muscle in your body as such:
- Hand, arm and forearm muscles – sustain the bar, holding it into position throughout the lift
- Shoulders and traps – hold the weight and keep it stable
- Core and back muscles – keep the entire body tight and stable and help keep your spine secure
- Legs and posterior chain muscles lift the weights
Training with deadlifts activates all your muscles. But if you think about it, as we mentioned the part that every muscle plays in this type of lift, you realize that the legs are the prime movers, while the rest of your muscles hold on to the bar and keep your body strong and stable. That being said, you can position the deadlift anywhere in your workout routine, making sure that you have a proper protocol, whether it’s back or legs.
DEADLIFT – LEG DAY
When doing deadlifts on a leg day, you need to arrange your exercises in order. Never start your leg day with deadlifts, as this is both psychically and physically exhausting exercise. Best is to place deadlifts later in your workout routine and start with other exercises that are not so tiresome, such as: leg presses, leg curls, front barbell squats, or barbell lunges. Incorporating squats and leg presses can help your deadlift by building legs. This will improve your leg drive and the power to get the weight off the floor.
If you are incorporating squats into your leg workouts, you should do deadlifts on back days. Deadlifts should be separated from squats as far as possible, usually by three or four days. Squatting heavy on one day and deadlifting heavy the following day is not a good idea for long term success.
DEADLIFTS – BACK DAY
It is recommended that, when doing deadlifts on back day, you don’t take the movement to muscle failure. The best way to incorporate deadlifts for this day is to do lower reps and go heavier. It’s best to deadlifts only once a week or even less, as the lower back, with its large amount of tendinous tissue, is one of the slowest area of the body to recover.
Other exercises which will help you on a back day routine are: T-bar rows, dumbbell shrugs, pulley rows and pull ups.
Speaking of deadlifts, let’s see the steps to a proper form and execution:
#1. Place the bar on the floor in front of you and stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
#2. Hip hinge driving your hips backward while keeping your torso straight.
#3. Grab the bar and raise your head as if you are looking at yourself in the mirror.
#4. Pull slightly on the bar so that your arms are creating a slight tension on the bar.
#5. Flatten your back all the way to your neck – make sure you keep it flattened during the entire deadlift.
#7. Squat until your forearms are touching the outside of your kneecaps.
#8. Lift the bar and stand straight up, letting the bar hang by your knees.
#9. Hold for a few moments, and then return it to the ground.
Here are a few tips to help you develop a stronger deadlift.
- Warm up
Before giving your all, you must warm up. When you warm up properly, you will not only decrease your injury risk, but also increase your performance.
- Work on your technique
Whatever type of deadlift you’re executing, you must use a proper technique. A bad, unpracticed technique leads to weakness which leads to injuries, and you’ll want to avoid that. On the other hand, if you practice, your deadlift will become much stronger, and the injury risk will be much lower.
A few basics key tips on the conventional deadlift technique would be:
- Arms should be straight at all times. Bending them is what leads to biceps tears
- Lower back should be in a neutral position. Rounding your back can be very dangerous and leads to unwanted injuries.
- Abs and lats should be tight the entire duration of the exercise. This will help with your strength.
- The bar should stay close to your body at all times. Keeping it distanced will put severe strain on your back and will also limit the amount of weights you can lift.
- Train explosively
A very effective way to increase your strength for deadlifts is to train explosively. This type of training can also be an easier and less tiring method of weight training. To build athletic power and strength, you can't underestimate the power and usefulness of bodyweight exercises.
Even though it’s safe to include deadlifts in either back or leg routines, it’s best that you don’t do them in both days. Include them in one group of muscles once and then make them part of another muscle group and do them accordingly.
Also make sure you give enough time for your body to recover after every workout routine, especially the one for back day, from which you recover harder.