Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lower body strength exercise

So if you are looking to build strength in your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps), there are several options you can choose from.  Depending on your specific goal (or sport specific movements), you may narrow it down to even fewer.  But to build overall strength in the legs in a functional movement, there is none better than the deadlift.  Some will argue that squats are the best movement for overall lower body strength.  And they may be right, but how ,many times are you stacking weight on your shoulders and standing up?  Sure if you are competing in the Worlds Strongest Man Competition, then you will definitely need to emphasize this move.  But more often than not, we bend down and lift things from the ground; essentially performing a "deadlift" exercise.

In this article, I am going to breakdown the movements of the deadlift and include a short video so that you too can begin deadlifting (if your not already doing so).

Before beginning to practice the deadlift, I would recommend that you practice with a broomstick or light bar so that you master the mechanics before beginning to add weight.

When beginning the deadlift you can choose between 2 hand grips, both hands pronated (overhand grip), or 1 pronated and 1 supinated (or alternated grip).  This will be a personal choice, but I prefer 1 of each because I feel that I can hold on to the bar easier; especially when lifting heavier weights.

I would recommend that you use a mirror when starting to perform a deadlift, this will help give reinforcement to your mechanics.  Sometime we think we are doing the exercise correctly, but then see ourselves in the mirror doing it wrong.  You can always have someone video you performing the movement too so that you can look back and compare and see the improvements.

Starting position:
*Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly open (rotated outward); this will help the knees track directly over the feet.
*Squat down keeping hips below the shoulders, knees behind the toes, and back straight to slightly arched.
*Grab the bar with either grip (pronated or alternated) with hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
*Arms should be outside the knees and fully extended.
*The bar should be about 1cm in front of your shins and directly above the balls of your feet.
*Keep the head in line with the spine, eyes focused straight ahead, and heels in contact with the floor

The Lift Movement:
* Push through the heels keeping arms fully extended and back flat or slightly arched.
*Extend the knees and hips under control keeping the bar as close tot he shins as possible
*As soon as the bar gets to knee level, begin to shift your weight to the balls of your feet
*Maintain a slightly arched back keeping elbows fully extended
*Extend and lock the hips first and then the quads and knees as you stand all the way up.

The Lower Movement:
*Slowly lower the bar to the ground in a controlled manner
*Keep the bar close to the thighs and shins
*Maintain your flat to slightly arched back
*Keep elbows fully extended
*Keep your eyes focused straight ahead
*As soon as the bar touches the ground, begin to lift up for another rep

After I viewed this video, I realized that my knees were too far forward and should have remained behind the bar during the Lift movement.  This is why I earlier recommended having someone video you, so you can easily correct the error and prevent injury.

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