The deadlift can make you feel strong! Don’t we always want to feel strong in a particular lift? The only problem is if we can feel strong while lifting safely. Lifting is one of the exercises that many will perform and sustain injury based on improper technique.
There are a couple of main points to understand when performing a deadlift: 1) It is suppose to work more than your lower back. 2) It is a full functional movement so many things have to be applied in the proper form and the best fit position for less risk of injury.
The First Variation
The first variation is the conventional style deadlift. This is the most common style, and for many who have a natural build for deadlifting (longer arms and shorter tibias) can generate tremendous amounts of power. When performing this variation, it is very important to keep the bar close to the body at all times. We initiate the movement driving through our heels so we want to keep that drive secure and balanced. The closeness of the bar will allow more control and less risk of injury especially in our lower/mid back region.
Also, we can use two different types of grips in this movement. Most people use the over/under grip which aids in the grip strength with the bar. In some cases, it is best to opt for the over/over grip to prevent the risk of bicipital injury. The underhand grip allows flexion of the bicep.
If tension hits maximum load where the bicep can’t support, then either the muscle will tear or we can have a complete rupture of the tendon which will be a complete detachment of the muscle from the bone. Either way, it is not a good scenario, and the injury could result in 10-16 weeks of therapy post surgical reattachment.
The Second Variation
Our second variation is the sumo deadlift. This is used for those with more flexibility in the hips, and shorter torso with shorter arms. Still, it can be a very powerful movement for many, and it also involves the use of our adductor muscles.
Similar to the conventional style, there are grip variations and risk factors. The bar still needs to maintain a close position to the body to prevent over-usage of our lower/mid back. The heel drive is still important but this stance will cause more pressure to be placed in the arch and anterior plantar surface of our foot. This is always important due to the type of movement needed to reset bar with stance with each consecutive rep. This will reinforce proper form and build more explosive power from the base of the movement.
The Third Variation
The last variation to discuss is the stiff-legged deadlift also known as RDL (Romanian Deadlift). I don’t recommend to have a locked knee position in this movement because this could place more pressure on our PCL (posterior cruciate ligament-supports the posterior position of the knee) and lower back. In this position, we will maintain a semi bend in the knee so that we still get the hamstring involvement like we want in this movement. We will also utilize glutes in the movement which will aid in both the eccentric and concentric motions.
This movement is not made to be an amazing movement of power, but it is definitely great for hypertrophic stimulation. Also, it can be added in a routine for accessory work thrown in after conventional deadlift movements. The bar will be kept within close proximity of the body as in the earlier movements and would still use an over/over grip.
Any of these movements could be incorporated in a routine. Every individual can benefit whether you are a strength athlete or a stay-at-home mother of three. They ultimately build power, speed, and muscle, and can increase our overall balance and metabolic output.