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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:39 am 
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Some time ago I seem to remember a debate about how deadlift actually works.

If memory serves, Kenny Croxdale was saying research has proven actual firing sequence is:
- Lower back extends slightly to break off the floor
- Legs extend to clear the knees
- Hips follow through to complete

The other side of the debate was simply that the lower back does not initiate the lift. Again - that's my memory - apologies for any mis-assignments of position.

About 10 days after tweaking my lower back I decided to try some very light deads to see how it felt (I've since decided this is counter-productive and won't do it until my back is 100%). This is what I found.

I found I could go surprisingly heavy, up to 70%, but for obvious reasons it had to be all legs. But at just 30 pounds more, very consciously not extending the lower back at the floor, the bar would not budge. My legs are in no way able to get much more than 70% off the floor. So regardless of what is proper or proven, this deadlifter apparently breaks the weight off the floor with a lower back extension, because when that extension was not available I lost 30%.

The confusing factor is that I have never really used my glutes, and am only learning that now. As I do a narrow sumo, it seems they would come into play through the entire ROM, no? So maybe the lower back thing is not conclusive due to this confounding variable.

Just thinking out loud.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:07 am 
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KenDowns wrote:
Some time ago I seem to remember a debate about how deadlift actually works.

Debate?

It is more like "Neanderthal Thinking" vs "Scientific Data build on Empirical Evidence".


Quote:
If memory serves, Kenny Croxdale was saying research has proven actual firing sequence is:
- Lower back extends slightly to break off the floor
- Legs extend to clear the knees
- Hips follow through to complete


Conventional Deadlift

The muscle firing sequence is: Back-Leg-Back.

"...the initial drive is done primarily by the back (erector spinae) and not the legs. If the athlete tries to move the weight using their legs instead of their back the result is a premature straightening of the legs and an unwanted curvature of the back."

As the initial pull from the back begins to lessen, the legs begin to take over. Knee extension and hip extension account for most of the movement until the bar reaches the knees. The primary muscles involved in this phase are the gluteals and hamstrings in hip extension and the quadriceps in knee extension.

As the bar passes the knees, the effect of the legs decreases and the lower back again becomes the primary force.

Sumo Deadlift

The muscle firing sequence is: Leg-Back

"...begin the lift by simultaneously pulling with the back and driving with the legs.

...Sumo lifters generally use their legs as the primary force to move the weight from the floor to the knees."


Quote:
The other side of the debate was simply that the lower back does not initiate the lift.


Neanderthals

Yes, the "Neanderthals" continue to believe you should push with your legs.

Their mantra: "Push the platform away from you".

The Irony

The irony is the when someone is ask how much they can deadlift, the question is often...

"How much can you pull"? That's a Big Clue that Maybe the Deadlift is more reliant on the "Pulling Muscle" in the posterior chain.

Not the "Pushing Muscles", the anterior quads.

However, the majority of those who go to the gym are too dumb to know the difference.


Quote:
About 10 days after tweaking my lower back I decided to try some very light deads to see how it felt (I've since decided this is counter-productive and won't do it until my back is 100%). This is what I found.

I found I could go surprisingly heavy, up to 70%, but for obvious reasons it had to be all legs. But at just 30 pounds more, very consciously not extending the lower back at the floor, the bar would not budge. My legs are in no way able to get much more than 70% off the floor. So regardless of what is proper or proven, this deadlifter apparently breaks the weight off the floor with a lower back extension, because when that extension was not available I lost 30%.


Breaking The Weight Off The Floor

See information above.

If you scream in it loud enough and long enough...

The foundation of advertising in American (known as propaganda in the "Axis of Evil" countries) is based on the Nazi's advertising/propaganda machine.

That is, if you scream something loud enough and long enough, people believe that it's true.

Parrots

The majority of those who lift in gym learn information via the Nazi method.

They are "Parrots", "Good little Nazis". They repeat things they have been told, without a question.

So, the "Neanderthal Mantra" and belief with the deadlift is..."Push The Platform Away From You"

Since there are and always will be more Neanderthals in the gyms, the "Neanderthal Deadlift Mantra" is here for a while.


Quote:
The confusing factor is that I have never really used my glutes, and am only learning that now. As I do a narrow sumo, it seems they would come into play through the entire ROM, no? So maybe the lower back thing is not conclusive due to this confounding variable.


It's not like you glutes take a nap when you perform your deadlift and wake up when you stop deadlifting.

Your glutes ARE working!!!

So, I have NO idea of...

1) What you mean by that statement.

2) How you have determined it.

Kenny Croxdale

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:50 pm 
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"Conventional Deadlift

The muscle firing sequence is: Back-Leg-Back.

"...the initial drive is done primarily by the back (erector spinae) and not the legs. If the athlete tries to move the weight using their legs instead of their back the result is a premature straightening of the legs and an unwanted curvature of the back."

As the initial pull from the back begins to lessen, the legs begin to take over. Knee extension and hip extension account for most of the movement until the bar reaches the knees. The primary muscles involved in this phase are the gluteals and hamstrings in hip extension and the quadriceps in knee extension.

As the bar passes the knees, the effect of the legs decreases and the lower back again becomes the primary force." - Kenny Croxdale

I don't understand this. When I perform Romanian Deadlifts (straight-leg, straight-back), I hinge at the hip while keeping my spine as rigid as possible. My Conventional Deadlift is very similar. The only noticeable differences are that I bend my knees slightly, and of course that I'm pulling from the floor rather than lifting it off a rack and backing up to start.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:35 pm 
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PS) I try to pull in one smooth motion and don't fully straighten my knees until after the bar clears them, at which point I aggressively drive my hips forward. Therefore pushing away from the floor doesn't make much sense to me either.

Also, I'm much stronger above the knees than I am below. I don't think I've ever failed to lockout a barbell after clearing my knees.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:36 am 
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Matt Z wrote:
"Conventional Deadlift

The muscle firing sequence is: Back-Leg-Back.

"...the initial drive is done primarily by the back (erector spinae) and not the legs. If the athlete tries to move the weight using their legs instead of their back the result is a premature straightening of the legs and an unwanted curvature of the back."

As the initial pull from the back begins to lessen, the legs begin to take over. Knee extension and hip extension account for most of the movement until the bar reaches the knees. The primary muscles involved in this phase are the gluteals and hamstrings in hip extension and the quadriceps in knee extension.

As the bar passes the knees, the effect of the legs decreases and the lower back again becomes the primary force." - Kenny Croxdale

I don't understand this. When I perform Romanian Deadlifts (straight-leg, straight-back), I hinge at the hip while keeping my spine as rigid as possible. My Conventional Deadlift is very similar. The only noticeable differences are that I bend my knees slightly, and of course that I'm pulling from the floor rather than lifting it off a rack and backing up to start.


What you are telling me doesn't make sense.

Romanian Deadlift

Due to the straight-leg, straight back movement, the primary muscle group worked are the hamstrings.

This is a definite "Hip Hinge" movement.

A simply rule is that a muscle being stretched under a load is the one doing the work.

Conventional Deadlift

There's no way anyone is going to perform a "Heavy" Conventional Deadlift with a "Hip Hinge".

Doing so, minimizes the weight and turns it into some type hybrid deadlift.

In a Conventional Deadlift, the back initiates breaking the weight off the floor.

The hamstrings are also contribute to coming out of the hole. However, bending the knees decreases the hamstring involvement.

In a deadlift and squat (step up, lunge, etc) the hamstring are more involved in the low position.

There is more hamstring involvement with movements with a forward lean.

Bent Knee

Bending the knees in a Conventional Deadlift (any movement) take the Stretch out of the hamstrings.

Remember, a stretched muscle is a loaded muscle.

Thus, bending the knees in a Conventional Deadlift, squat, good morning, etc. drastically decreases the loading and decreases the involvement of the hamstrings in the movement.

Vertical Drive

In the deadlift, especially the Conventional Deadlift, you have to pull the weight back (posterior chain involvement) while at the same time driving the weight up (anterior chain, a lot of quad drive).

Quad Deadlift Exercises

The quads are instrumental in driving the weight vertically.

Some of the best quad deadlift exercises are...

1) Quarter Squats: In a Conventional Deadlift, the legs start from a "Quarter Squat" position. That is why quarter squats are such a good deadlift auxiliary exercise.

2) Leg Press: This is a quad movement. Gene Bell (one of the best deadlifters/powerlifters) was once ask how much performing leg press' helped his squat.

Bell's reply was, it helped his deadlift a lot more than his squat.

Kenny Croxdale

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:26 pm 
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My point is that conventional deadlifts are a hip-dominant movement, not a spine-dominant movement. Most of the ROM comes from the hips, with some knee extension and minimal spine movement. ... Therefore, I'm having a hard time understanding how the erectors are moving the weight rather than merely transferring force from the hips to the upper-body as they do in squats, good mornings, RDLs, cleans, high pulls, etc. :scratch:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:11 pm 
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Matt Z wrote:
My point is that conventional deadlifts are a hip-dominant movement, not a spine-dominant movement. Most of the ROM comes from the hips, with some knee extension and minimal spine movement. ... Therefore, I'm having a hard time understanding how the erectors are moving the weight rather than merely transferring force from the hips to the upper-body as they do in squats, good mornings, RDLs, cleans, high pulls, etc. :scratch:


Suggested Reading

Below are some article on this will address some of your questions.

THE DEADLIFT: A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS
http://www.nhomag.com/99_v1_n2_5.asp

Get It Right: The Deadlift
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... e_deadlift

Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift
http://www.elitefts.com/documents/biome ... _of_dl.htm

It's Time To Shut Up About Rounded-Back Deadlifts
http://liftbigeatbig.com/its-time-to-sh ... deadlifts/

A Defense of Round-backed Deadlifting
http://www.myosynthesis.com/roundbacked-deadlifting

A Strong Case For Round Back Deadlifts
http://www.t-nation.com/training/strong ... k-deadlift

Kenny Croxdale

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:00 pm 
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"Deadlifts involve concentric action (shortening) of the erectors. Disagree? Have a lifter get into deadlift position with a bar at normal deadlift height (8 inches). Take a tape measure and put it at the bottom of the sacrum (the beginning of the thoracolumbar aponeurosis, where the erectors originate). Then go to the base of the neck (C7) and note the distance between the two points.

Now have the lifter deadlift the bar and hold the weight in the top position. Measure the two points again. The distance will be shorter, usually by 2-4" inches on most people." - Tim Henriques

I'm short and have good hip mobility, so lets assume I'm at the low end of that range. That's two inches, while the barbell travels a total of about twenty inches (for me).


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:23 pm 
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The 3rd link didn't work for me.

The 4th argues in favor of some rounding, although it cautions lifters to limit spinal movement by maintaining roughly the same posture throughout. Also, it seems to be written mainly for tall lifters with long limbs. I'm short with short limbs and a proportionally long torso.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:55 pm 
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The 5th link didn't work.

"Maintain whatever spinal position is chosen and not allow the position to buckle." - Bret Contreras

Again, while allowing for round-back deadlifting, the article warns against excessive spine movement.

"Now what? If you're stronger when deadlifting with a neutral spine, then lucky you. This article doesn't apply to you, so carry on." - Bret Contreras

Apparently, I'm in the minority.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:04 pm 
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I don't dispute that the erectors are working hard in a conventional deadlift, or that they're often the weak link in the lift. I just don't see how they're doing most of the work, since spinal extension is minimal, while the hips move through a much larger ROM.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:45 am 
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I don't attempt to coach deadlift. I don't attempt to believe I know what in the hell i'm talking about on deadlift. I hate doing it and the more I train, the worse it gets. Consequently I end up only deadlifting at meets.

I know I should work on it, but I don't know what in the hell to do. I got people cuing me who are good deadlifters, but are built completely different from me.

I've watched videos about deadlifting, read books on it, read articles upon articles and I still can't figure it out.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 3:19 pm 
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I only deadlift about once a month. The rest of the time I do either Romanian Deadlifts or Good Mornings, plus High Pulls.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:24 pm 
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For me to put much importance on that data i'd need to see other variables somehow accounted for. Leverages play a big part in someones deadlift style which I reckon could change things, and actual technique must play a part i.e a sloppy lift with no tightness, hips shooting up, back rounding vs a cleaner rep with everything moving in unison. Maybe it wouldn't but we don't really know so, whilst the data is interesting, i'm not sure it's conclusive enough to be useful (yet).

I'm not disagreeing with it just playing devils advocate.

This reminds me of the following quote,

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

Even if we assume the data is correct, does it change things? And if it doesn't, then is it relevant?

In my opinion, you shouldn't really feel any one body part more than the other. It should feel like your whole body has became one object or unit and is moving the weight as such. It should feel and look very "together". I think trying to move or fire different parts in different orders is probably not an ideal road to go down. If hips move more than everything else, or a knee caves in, or the spine position moves more than everything else, or the head position goes crazy, then these are technique flaws and need to be addressed accordingly. I think everyone would agree these are things that need fixed, irrespective of views on the data RE muscle firing sequence.

In the same respect, if you blatantly feel your lower back, there's most likely a problem, and it may or may not be related to muscle firing sequence. When something like this happens, I think it's always best to go back to the drawing board and start with the basics.

How is your technique when you train? How do you break down (if you do) when the weight gets heavy? And what does all this mean and what can you do about it. These questions are way more likely to lead to a solution. I think the research is great for discussion in this case but not so much for action.

I also think people mix up coaching cues with positioning cues. How you describe a certain position and how you verbally cue someone into a position can be drastically different.

"chest up" can make one person move into a neutral spine, and another move into hyper extension, for example.

"Chin down" can take someone into a neutral head and neck position, and others into a flexed position.


And, "hinge/flex at the hips, posterior weight shift with neutral spine, etc" sounds drastically different from "close an invisible door with your a$$", but both describe the same thing.

I believe (and have found) "press the floor away" is a good coaching cue for some people because it can help put them into and maintain more tension in a more efficient starting position. People who have a tendency to get pulled forward with the hips shooting up before the bar has left the floor are an example as it tends to clean their deadlift up like magic. This isn't the only way to fix it, but it's one of many cues that work especially with this type of flaw.

If you lift too much with the back and not enough with the legs/hips, you need cues that help engage more legs/hips, but this doesn't necessarily have any bearing on muscle firing sequence.

I've always deadlifted once per week, with the occasional second variation in like RDL's or rack pulls. However recently I deadlifted 3x per week, but have since decreased to 2x per week, although I still occasionally deadlift 3x/week. Also squat and bench 3x/week now, and just added a 4th press variation. I've jumped on the frequency boat :thumbright:

Also, I pretty much never feel my lower back when deadlifting and rarely have beyond the first 6 months or so that I started doing it, and recently (last 12-ish months), i've been belt free 99% of the time. I occasionally feel the lumbar erectors pumped up/fatigued, but never a "spine" pain. Interestingly this is true even if i've thrown caution to the wind that day. More interestingly i've injured my lower back before and had bouts of pain (although, touch wood, not in years), but it was never due to or directly effected my deadlift.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:55 am 
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KPj wrote:
I believe (and have found) "press the floor away" is a good coaching cue for some people because it can help put them into and maintain more tension in a more efficient starting position.


Poor Coaching Cue

"Press the floor away" is a poor coaching with the Conventional Deadlift.

We've been through this before. Let's try once more.

The reason has to do with biomechanical research that examined the muscle involvement, firing sequence and trajectory of the bar.

"Contrary to popular opinion, the initial drive is done primarily by the back (erector spinae) and not the legs. If the athlete tries to move the weight using their legs instead of their back the result is a premature straightening of the legs and an unwanted curvature of the back." Source: THE DEADLIFT: A SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS, http://www.nhomag.com/99_v1_n2_5.asp

"Pushing the floor away" from you in a Conventional Deadlift is somewhat like a "Super Bug" that nothing can kill.

It continues to flourish and is spread from one individual to another.

Issue

Any issue you/anyone has with this pertains to Dr. Tom McLaughlin (PhD Exercise Biomecanics/former Powerlifter). There are also National Strength and Conditioning Research Journal articles that have supported McLaughlin's findings.

I have no doubt some will enlighten these individuals and show them the light.

How Much Can You Leg Press Off The Floor?

In my decades of lifting, I have yet to have have someone ask me or anyone else, "How much can weight can you "Push away from the floor?"

The question is...

"How Much Can You Pull?"

This is the right question because the Conventional Deadlift is primary a "Pulling Movement".

The quadriceps play a supporting role in the Conventional Deadlift. However, the erectors, hamstrings and glutes are "The Stars" of this show.

With that said, the best quad drive exercises for the Conventional Deadlift are: Leg Press, Quarter Squats, Front Squat, Partial Step Ups, etc.

Reality of The Situation

You are a smart guy. However, you stuck on the "Push the floor away" idea and your not going to change.

Thus, my message is directed toward those who have yet to be "Brain Washed".


Quote:
If you lift too much with the back and not enough with the legs/hips, you need cues that help engage more legs/hips, but this doesn't necessarily have any bearing on muscle firing sequence.


Cuing Isn't The Primary Issue

Cuing all day is an exercise in futility.

The problem in this situation is primarily the lifter has an incredibly strong back and weak legs.

That leaves the lifter with two options.

1) Lift less via "Pushing the floor away".

2) Make the lift by shifting the load to the lower back.

Trying to have a lifter use the weakest muscle groups in an exercise insure the the lifter's is going to lift less.

Ken Downs post is a great illustration of how pushing guarantees less weight being moved.

In Clutch Situations...

An analogy is that in clutch situation, is you want to give the ball to your best scoring player.

This analogy applies to lifter who want to succeed with a lift.

This means the body instinctively shift the load the the stronger muscle groups, if the weaker muscle group cannot preform it.

Giving the ball to your lowest/weakest scorer (i.e. muscle group) doesn't make sense. It like taking one of your third string players and putting them into a clutch situation.

A Strength Issue

To solve of "using too much back" and not enough hip/leg drive, leg strength primarily in the quads need to be addressed.

Increasing leg drive strength will automatically allow the lifter to assist the back in driving the weight. The back is still going do be the work horse.


Quote:
People who have a tendency to get pulled forward with the hips shooting up before the bar has left the floor are an example as it tends to clean their deadlift up like magic. This isn't the only way to fix it, but it's one of many cues that work especially with this type of flaw.


NO Leg Strength

You can cue, yell scream, whip, beat, etc the lifter all day long to use more leg drive.

However, the bottom line is that it is NOT going to happen because the legs are not strong enough to do the job.

The two options are...

1) Drop the weight you are trying to lift.

2) Strengthen quad drive.

Kenny Croxdale

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