In the lifting realm there are things that separate the men from the boys. Most people consider squatting to be an essential lower body lift and those that are fond of it will routinely bash the leg press crowd.
After the squat, It’s not surprising to hear those same people talk about the deadlift. In fact, a lot go as far as to recommend squatting and deadlifting as a comprehensive attack for lower body training. But is this really true?
The deadlift does have some pros. It can’t really be ‘cheated’ or misunderstood like the squat can. The bar must travel from the ground to lockout. It’s pretty simple, really. However, this is exactly what adds a gray area to the lift.
There are numerous ways to get the bar from point A to point B and most people will default to a way that puts the lower body at a mechanical disadvantage which will automatically decrease the effectiveness of this lift as a strengthener of the lower body.
The glutes are the most powerful when the spine is in a neutral position (give or take a few degrees – it will never be perfect). In order to fully take advantage of this, a solid back angle MUST be maintained with emphasis on motor pattern recruitment throughout the lift (mainly driving the lift through hip extension once the bar passes the knees).
When the weight gets heavy most people tend to round throughout the thoracic spine. This is fine if your only goal is to move the weight. However, only powerlifters have to worry about that. We must remember if were using the lift for athletic performance we need to always consider our target goal which is to effectively strengthen the target musculature, not necessarily move the most weight.
Rounding throughout the thoracic spine will shift emphasis to the mid back, mainly the thoracic region. Most people that pull respectable weight with this form will often have larger backs then they will glutes and hamstrings as a result of the use of this form over time.