Core Stabilizing (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Deadlifts)

30 05 2012

I figured an homage to a classic movie in the title will soften the blow…

As I mentioned last week when talking about how to boost your vertical jump, there are three exercises I consider the “Big Three” (very much like a certain NBA franchise in South Beach).  The first one, the squat, is great for building lower body strength since it incorporates pretty much every muscle fiber in your legs.

Today we’re going to talk about my LEAST favorite exercise of all time: the deadlift.  This is the brussel sprouts of a workout routine.  The reason I call it that is because while I hate doing it, it’s arguably one of the greatest exercises to help stabilize your core muscles (such as your abs…see how the primer set you up for this?)

Here is a video demonstrating how to properly perform a deadlift (courtesy of HanleyStrength.com)


Yeah this is a lot of information to process, so I’ll summarize it as best as I can for beginners:

  • The idea is to utilize the muscles in your lower back.  Think of your arms and grip as hooks, as opposed to part of lifting the weight.
  • In terms of positioning, the best comparison I can make is to a catcher’s stance before a pitch is thrown.  This means that your shoulders are parallel your knees (not in front), your back is straight and you’re looking directly ahead (or even a little higher, if it helps you to keep everything aligned).  The idea is to not arch your back.
  • Do NOT lock in your knees at the end of the lift.  The idea is to have constant tension throughout the movement.  Just like the way you can hurt joints in your elbows locking out a bench press rep too hard, the same can happen to knee caps if you’re using enough weight on the barbell.  Notice the slight bend in the example photo below:

Perfect Form. Notice no arch in the back!

Getting back to how this helps your core…the deadlift is not what one would consider a “glamour exercise.”  What I mean by that is the gains and development aren’t going to be as glamorous looking in a mirror as, say, barbell curls or the bench press.  However, if you’re serious about sculpting that mid-section,  you need to cover both the abs AND your lower back.  The focus should be a stronger core.  The six-pack will come if you perform the deadlift properly.  Think of it like rowing and bench presses: the push/pull evens out your body.  If only work one side, you’re going to be physically imbalanced.

Since I hate this move, I always put it at the beginning of my back workout (while I’m still on auto-pilot at 5:00 in the morning).  In fact, I suggest putting each of the “Big Three” at the top of your routine, since not only do they suck to do, but they also wake up all the other secondary muscles you’ll be working later on in your routine.

Enjoy!

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