The deadlift is one of my favorite exercises for building raw strength. It is up there with one of the best exercises you can have your athletes perform. There are many options that you can choose from. You could always use the conventional deadlift with a barbell, Romanian deadlift, sumo deadlift or one of my personal favorites, the trap bar or hex bar deadlift. Either one you choose it is a win in my book.
Most young athletes walking into the training facility for the first time have no business even looking at a deadlift, let alone trying to perform the movement. They cannot even hinge their hips! So that leads to the question, how do we teach the deadlift to athletes that cannot even properly hinge their hips? There are many options that I like to use in unison and some by themselves.
Here are my top three ways to teach the deadlift.
1. Hip Hinge w/ Dowel & Bench. Have an athlete place a dowel along their spine. The dowel should run from the back of their head to their tail bone. One hand holds the dowel behind the head and above the tail bone. Have the athlete take a shoulder width stance with their feet underneath a bench. The bench is used to force the athletes to hinge their hips and not make the movement from their knees. The athlete should pack their neck, which means they should keep their chin tucked. Make sure the athlete keeps three points of contact with the dowel at the head, upper back and tail bone.
2. Pull Through w/ Band or Cable. Have the athlete grab the band or cable attachment (rope attachment). Take a few steps forward so there is tension on the band or cable. Have the athlete hinge their hips back while keeping a neutral spine. The hands should come to the middle or the athletes legs. The pull from the band or cable somewhat forces the hip hinge to take place if it is not totally there yet. Instruct the athlete to drive through their heels and extend their hips.
3. Kettlebell Deadlift. When this movement is used it should mean that the athlete is hinging their hips properly and do not need physical feedback or assistance. The athlete should set up the kettlebell between their ankles, hinge their hips back, grab the kettlebell and perform the deadlift.
This three step process can take one day, week, month or season. It does not matter how long it takes, but it must take place before any athlete is allowed to perform a deadlift using any bar. Your athletes will move better, reduce their chance of injury and get stronger if this progression is followed
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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