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How To Deadlift - Set Up and Technique

Thoughtful Thursday – How to Deadlift!

Hey guys! SO excited to talk to you about one of my favorite exercises of all time… the DEADLIFT!!!! This exercise is critical and is super helpful if you want to make big gains in your racing for the spring! The deadlift does a few things for us as athletes. One, it helps us improve our ability to RECRUIT THE GLUTES which is the main muscle for propulsion and power in running and cycling. Two, it helps us strengthen those muscles so that we improve our power/strength to weight ratio. This is critical because what this means is that this exercise helps us be stronger and more powerful, but at the same weight. If we are stronger at the same weight, we go faster, and that for most of us is the end goal! Lastly, speaking more to triathletes, this exercise is really helpful for holding good form during the run off of the bike. By improving your glute and core strength you can maintain good running mechanics off the bike and have a better run split as a result! So now that we’ve talked about why the deadlift is beneficial, let’s walk through how to set up for this exercise!

How do I set up for a deadlift / What is a trap bar?

First of all great question! A trap bar or hex bar as it is sometimes called is a barbell shaped like a hexagon. It’s a great way to learn the movement of deadlifting and actually puts less stress on your back compared to the normal barbell. It looks like this.

Now let's talk set up!

1. The first thing you want to do is step inside of the bar. You want to position yourself in the middle of the bar with your feet hip width apart.

2. Then bend over and grasp the handles of the bar with an overhand grip.

3. Squat down a little by sitting back like you’re going to sit in a chair.

4. Once here take a deep breath and pull your belly button in toward your spine. This helps us have a good flat back which protects our back and helps us get the most out of this lift.

5. Once your back is in a good position lift your chest up while holding onto the bar. This puts your body in the best position to perform the lift and takes up the last bit of slack before starting to lift the bar.

Now that you are in the proper position, push through your heels, pull with your hamstrings and glutes and come up to a standing position. Once here, stick your butt out and reverse the lifting motion, slowly lowering the weight back to the floor. Continue this procedure for however many reps you are doing in that set, making sure to keep a flat back and good form with each repetition.

How often should I do a deadlift?

The deadlift is another exercise that I typically implement into my 1-2 strength days per week and does not actually have to be performed on Wednesday with the rest of the #meangirls. I do this because it is a functional and compound movement that provides a lot of benefit for the time spent performing the lift. Within each session I typically perform the deadlift for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with 60-90 seconds of rest in between. The weight should be heavy enough that it starts to get difficult around the last 2-3 reps of every set. If you are unsure how much weight you can do, I would start on the light side so that you don’t do too much and injure yourself due to poor form. As runners and triathletes the goal of weight training is to supplement your training and prevent injury, not to max out your deadlift. So when performing lifts, start light. You can always progress as needed and as you get more comfortable with the lifts. The key to performing the deadlift safely, is to bend in your hips and not in your back. If you are struggling with this movement, practice the motion of the hip hinge in the following way.

Stand 4-6 inches away from a wall with your back facing the wall. Pull your belly button toward your spine and bending only in the hips, stick your butt out and touch the wall with your butt. Then pull your hips back to a standing position by squeezing your butt muscles together and repeat. This is a great way to practice the hip hinge movement that is so beneficial for deadlifting. It will also help protect your back during other movements performed throughout the day and is a great skill to learn!

Well guys, that’s how you deadlift with a trap bar. If you liked this blog please share this out to someone who needs to hear this and make sure to watch the technique Tuesday video on proper deadlift form here:

For the 5 dynamic warm up exercises for runners click here:

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Until next time,


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