Want to become a better athlete? Then get better at performing the “athlete’s lift!” Let’s go 1R.
The deadlift is my favorite athlete exercise because it helps develop the muscles in the upper back, glutes, hamstrings and grip. As all of these muscles are of paramount importance to athletes, the light should have immediately clicked on… Deadlifts will make me better!
Some don’t understand the difference between a squat and a deadlift, but it’s rather simple to distinguish the two: the squat is more of a knee or quad dominant exercise, as opposed to the deadlift which is a hip dominant exercise. In other words, a good squat has more knee range of motion, and a good deadlift has more hip range motion.
But, whether you’re new to the deadlift game, or a seasoned veteran still looking to improve your technique, continue reading for exercises below to help you perfect your form.
The Stick Good Morning
The stick good morning is one of my favorite exercises for teaching the deadlift because you learn to keep your spine in a neutral position (i.e. not rounded) when moving real weight. It’s critical that you understand what a neutral spine feels like to not risk injury when trying to set personal records.
In order to perform the stick good morning, simply have someone hold a stick against your back. One end of the stick will remain in contact with your upper back (near head and cervical spine) and the other will remain in contact with your lower back (lumbar spine).
Once this is taken care of, perform a “hip hinge”, which is essentially the good morning exercise. If you round your back the stick will lose contact with the body, making it a great self-regulating tool for deadlift form. As you’ll see in the video, the athlete was having trouble getting his lumbar spine in a good position in the very bottom and the stick comes off of the back… and that’s exactly why you do the drill!
The draw back to the stick good morning is still being able to “squat” the stick without really sitting back. That’s why, to develop a really solid “hip hinge” pattern for deadlifts, we like implement the Wall RDL.
Set up facing away from the wall, as the wall will let you know if you’re truly sitting back. The goal is to sit back and try to tap the wall with your glutes. If you fail you’re either rounding your back or squatting straight down. Either way, move as far away from the wall possible in order to complete the drill.
I also like to instruct my athletes to reach out with their arms in order to feel like they are elongating their spine. This will help maintain a tight back and a neutral spine. You could, if you like, even combine these movement to create yet another training tool (as you’ll see in the video below):
Any way you slice it, the deadlift, and its strengthening of the entire posterior chain, is one of the best exercises for all athletes. The key though, as discussed above, is to learn proper form, for it’s through correct posture that’ll you’ll truly experience improved strength, speed, and athletic performance.
In addition to the exericises above, 1R would recommend the following supplements if you're trying to take your deadlift to the next level: