- Are you having trouble with your deadlift?
- Do you feel awkward trying to get into position to effectively pull the bar off the ground in the deadlift?
- Have you tried different variations of the deadlift to suit your body’s needs?
If you’re having issues pulling the bar you may need to customize your deadlift. The deadlift is a very powerful functional movement to include in most any strength and conditioning program. If you’re experiencing issues never fear because there are still ways for you to leverage this movement for some groundbreaking strength.
Customize Your Deadlift
When looking at breaking down your deadlift technique you can look at several variables that may be causing you problems. For instance, if you feel quite a bit of strain on your back, or feel limited in being able to get your body into position to just grab the bar then we could naturally assume that you may have some restriction in your mobility.
Even though I would say that this is usually the issue it may not always be the issue. There are other factors that can play into how you move and lift things in terms of getting your body into position to produce the greatest leverage.
One example of this is in the design of your body. Mechanically we are all just built differently. Some people are tall, some are short, some have long arms and short legs, and some have short arms and long legs. Yes, we all have the same anatomy, but structurally there may be other variables in play that can influence the way you lift and move things.
In addition to this there may be asymmetries in your body due to past injuries, or other relating lifestyle factors. Weakness in certain muscles, tightness, or just general technical flaws can bring on a lot of different issues concerning your deadlift.
With that being said here are a few deadlift variations to help you. Based on your given situation you may want to adopt one, or more of the following variations to meet your body’s needs in order to perform the movement pain free.
Elevate the bar: Here you can you can make a simple adjustment with deadlift to make the lift more practical if you have trouble getting into position to lift the bar. The thinking here is simple. If you can’t get down to grab the bar then bring the bar up to you.
You can do this by simply sliding a couple of blocks, plates, or other sturdy platform underneath each plate on either end of the barbell in order to elevate the bar into a higher position for you to be able to get down into position to grab it and pull. This is a simple, practical, and immediate fix if you feel you’re having issues in getting to the bar.
Use a kettlebell: Sometimes the barbell can be difficult because people have a difficult time with getting the bar close enough to their body in order to not place unwanted torque on their low back. Because the barbell must be lifted from the floor you must get it as close to your shins to lift from your center mass and base of support.
The thing is that because of the position of the bar you’re naturally going to be placing greater stress on your spine because the bar is simply going to be in front of your center mass base of support. However with a kettlebell you can stand directly over the weight on the ground between your ankles. You can lift the kettlebell directly off the ground from your center base of support.
Another way to alleviate shoulder and spine stress with the deadlift is to adopt the suitcase deadlift. Here you can perform the deadlift by placing a kettlebell on the ground on each side of your legs.
You can also use a trap bar for a similar benefit. From here you can hinge your hips back like you would for a normal deadlift and pick the kettlebells up off of the ground like a pair of suitcases, hence the name suitcase deadlift.
Like the kettlebell between your legs would alleviate stress off of your spine so will the suitcase (and trap bar) deadlift. In addition to this a larger cast iron kettlebell will naturally sit higher up off of the ground allowing you to more easily get down into position to lift the weight up off of the ground.
Another honorable mention to the benefit of this lift is that you can easily transition into a farmer’s walk with the weights in hand if you want to make the transition out of the deadlift.
Use the single leg deadlift:
Another variation that would be good to add in would be the single leg deadlift. This movement may look simple, but in my experience more people struggle with this movement than just about anything else I introduce because of demand of ankle, knee, and hip stability involved in order to pull it off.
This movement would be good for you to add in on a different day from when you’re doing standard deadlifts. By adding in this movement you’ll notice a substantial difference in your movement and performance for the standard deadlift, or one of the other mentioned variations here.
Customize Your Deadlift: The Takeaway
Keep in mind that aside from having a serious lumbar spine injury, or condition you should be able to leverage the power of the deadlift movement. Performed properly you should generate the force to produce this movement and develop ground-breaking strength.
Have you used any of these variations for your deadlift?
How often do you include deadlifting into your training?
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