Master it: deadlifts

Some exercises need perfect technique to be truly effective. The Deadlift — one of the great core strength (and butt) building exercises — is one. Fitness First’s National Fitness Manager Michael Cunico shows how it’s done.

michael-cunico_hero_imgl04381. The Start

There are very few absolutes in the world of exercise, but here’s one: the position of your shoulders relative to the bar at the start of a deadlift. If we view the movement side-on, prior to starting the exercise your shoulders should be positioned directly over the bar. If the shoulders are behind the bar you’ll very quickly have bar-to-shin impact. And if the shoulders are in front of the bar, it will swing away from you and you’ll have to “chase the bar”. Neither of these scenarios are optimal for lifting, and under heavy loading either could cause pain or injury.

michael-cunico_hero_imgl04392. The Middle

Every body is different, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to starting the deadlift. The length of your femur (the bone in your upper leg) will have an impact on how high or low your hips will be when starting the movement. Different lifters will have different starting positions, and people who are stronger in certain areas may use to this to their advantage when lifting. For example, a person with a very strong posterior chain may have a higher hip position to really load the hamstrings and lower back to minimise the stress placed on the quadriceps.

michael-cunico_hero_imgl04403. The End

Neck position is also a highly debated topic. If you look at the strongest deadlifters on the planet, many will look up prior to starting the movement and continue to look up while aiming to lock out. The theory behind this is that as the body shifts into extension, looking up supports this process. However, some bio-mechanists claim that optimal neck position should be neutral with little deviation. Personally, I’m not against looking up. If the lifter can perform the movement in this fashion with no pain, and they can lift more using this technique, it may be preferable. Go with what works for you.