RDL as "safest" deadlift

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robertscott
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RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by robertscott » Thu May 10, 2012 12:02 pm

well I think it's about time I tried to deadlift again.

I've always thought the deadlift progression was RDL -> trap bar -> sumo -> conventional

does anyone have an opinion on a better way to do this?

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Stephen Johnson
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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu May 10, 2012 2:40 pm

@robertscott:

Eric Cressey has a trio of articles on T-Nation that address the deadlift. These articles might be beneficial to someone getting back into deadlifting. The third article doesn't address deadlift progressions directly, but it does list variation movements that can benefit the traditional deadlift. Romanian deadlifts aren't one of them, though.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ift_part_i" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ft_part_ii" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... t_part_iii" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My own progression was rack pull -> trap bar - regular deadlift, I fooled around with sumo deadlifts, but i'm paranoid about what pulling heavy from a wide stance could do to my knees while wearing standard cross training shoes.

I've used Romanian deadlifts with front squats in several of my leg routines, and as a substitute for still legged deadlifts. It's a really good exercise that hits the posterior chain without putting the lower back at risk.

Welcome back to the deadlifting fold. Keep us posted on your progress. I've been inspired by the squat thread to do more single legged training.
Thanks TimD

robertscott
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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by robertscott » Thu May 10, 2012 3:12 pm

thanks for those articles Stephen, I've seen them before but I forgot all about them.

I hadn't thought about rack pulls, I think the temptation'd be too much to load them up heavy as hell. I'm thinking with the RDLs I'll be more likely to be slow and controlled, and can get a good stretch in the hamstrings which might help towards addressing my woeful flexibility.

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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by JasonJones » Fri May 11, 2012 1:23 am

The safest progression is weight, and the safest conventional deadlift is the lightest conventional deadlift. There's no aggregate point where deadlift variations translate to deadlifts. You might be able to RDL 600# and never be able to pull a 135# deadlift again in your life. Depending on what you did to your back, you may never want to. The safest deadlift is the one with the most appropriate range of motion, the most appropriate weight, and the most appropriate individual. If your goal is to return to conventional deadlifts, then in my estimation the safest way to accomplish that goal is to do conventional deadlifts.

(With an unloaded bar and an endless supply of 2.5 pound weights.)

Keep in mind that with a deadlift (and unlike a squat or a lunge) the range of motion is determined by your height* relative to the midpoint of a 45 pound plate. Those plates are that tall and the bar is that low because that's how they're made; it doesn't represent a full range of motion or a strong range of motion or a safe range of motion, and your mileage will vary. A hip hinge movement is a fundamental human movement, but the conventional deadlift does not represent a range of motion with properties meaningful outside of the manufacture of olympic bars and plates.

(That's not to say that each variation doesn't have a very specific and measurable difference in the amount of force it puts on the lumbar spine. We can say pretty reliably that a sumo deadlift will usually place less stress on the lumbar spine than a conventional deadlift just by examining the difference in moment arm, for example. We can even calculate the moment of force for most positions and most loads, but the safest deadlift would still be determined by the individual, and not the lift.)

*obv. I mean the relationship between the lengths of different bones within your appendicular/axial skeleton, unless you're some kind of freaky snake man with snakes for limbs or animated skeleton in which case AWESOME lets be friends
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robt-aus
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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by robt-aus » Fri May 11, 2012 1:50 am

can we change the text used for Jason's membership level please? novice is just not right.

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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by KPj » Fri May 11, 2012 9:40 am

I think RDL's are a great teaching tool for learning the hip hinge and "the arc" - same thing, really, but you need to be able to feel your arc, otherwise you won't be able to tell when you lose it. I used to go straight to conventional deadlifting but just, "raise the floor" (with either steps, weight discs, or start with rack pulls) to bring the bar up to a safe ROM. However it over complicated things - the ideal starting position for a deadlift is complicated enough, never mind having to perform the lift correctly, too.

Also after watching Dan John teach the "hip hinge", I had a light bulb moment. One drill he used was holding a dowel as if you were at the top of a deadlift and, stand with your back facing the wall. Go about a foot away from the wall and touch the wall with your a$$ - now you're hip hinging. It's the simplest way i've ever discovered to teach the "hip hinge".

Then I stole another cue from someone else who's name escapes me - hold a bar in your hands, stand tall, and close an invisible door with your a$$. Now you have a hip hinge/RDL and the process was simple.

Therefore, I've started using RDL's first, a top down approach if you like. The purpose is to teach the hip hinge and familiarise the arch of the lower back. Then we conventional deadlift. If mobility is an issue, I "raise the floor" to a safe range. Then all I need to do is stand them infront of the bar and say, "RDL yourself to the bar". It's down at the bar I teach them about getting tight, then we just lift.

RDL has became my goblet squat for deadlifts.

I need to get you back to the scheme. Can you touch your toes yet?

Either way, "if it hurts, don't do it", so you have that as your guide, too.

KPj
Thanks TimD

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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Fri May 11, 2012 3:46 pm

tru dat robt-aus
JJ flashes those common sense, consice responses without posting just to hear himself type.
He's the man

That being said, I was reading this thread at home going... "Why not just start really light with the standard Deadlift?" Alas I had had a few and figured I was missing something

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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by Jungledoc » Fri May 11, 2012 5:18 pm

robt-aus wrote:can we change the text used for Jason's membership level please? novice is just not right.
Just encourage him to post more!
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by Ironman » Fri May 11, 2012 11:22 pm

A special rank is always a possibility. For some reason the first thing that popped into my head was "Mighty Mouse". I usually need a little help coming up with special ranks, they are usually by suggestion. ...so since Rob brought it up......

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Stephen Johnson
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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by Stephen Johnson » Sat May 12, 2012 2:26 pm

robertscott wrote:I hadn't thought about rack pulls, I think the temptation'd be too much to load them up heavy as hell. .
Yeah, I've known some lifters who do rack pulls strictly as an upper back thickener. In my case, I was a tall, skinny runner with a gimpy back who was trying to get into cross training. The problem - beside the backache - was that I sucked at lifts like squats and bench presses because of my long limbs. But a trainer at the gym told me that I would be a natural for deadlifting, and he was right. He put me on the rack pull -> trap bar -> deadlift progression to ease my fears about throwing out my back
robertscott wrote:I'm thinking with the RDLs I'll be more likely to be slow and controlled, and can get a good stretch in the hamstrings which might help towards addressing my woeful flexibility
True. But for traditional deadlifts with heavier weights, you don't want to be slow at the start - you'll have trouble getting off the floor. Slow training with the RDL might not carry over well.

But we all have to learn by doing.
Thanks TimD

robertscott
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Re: RDL as "safest" deadlift

Post by robertscott » Sat May 12, 2012 5:42 pm

lots of good responses here guys, thanks very much...

Jason - I don't think I can start on conventional deadlifts until I address my flexibility issues. I definitely agree with what you're saying regarding the hip hinge being important and the best deadlift being the one most appropriate to the individual, and I think romanian deads are the most suitable at this time. If I never get past sumo, or even the trap bar, I won't mind too much. I'm not a powerlifter so I don't technically "need" the deadlift, and have survived just fine without it this last year or so, but it would be nice to be able to do it again. I really like deadlifting...

KPj - my thinking is the same thing as yours about the hip hinge. I need to get back to square one and completely re-learn the movement. Glute activation is something I need to really work on as I usually only feel hip hinge moves in my lower back. I know all the form cues, I just can't seem to get my glutes to fire.

yeah I'll need to come see you again, I've got exams for the next week but I'm free after that. I'll give you a text in a week or so... and no I can't touch my damn toes yet!

Oscar - flexibility issues mate, even a 60k deadlift hurts if I try and pull it from the floor. Frustrating since I can comfortably hip thrust 200k

Stephen - Yeah I know people that rack pull for the sake of their back but I'm not really interested. I train an upper/lower split which would make it pretty much impossible to program. I'm not tall like you (you're 6 foot 6 right?) but proportionally I have long limbs so in theory I'm built to deadlift, but a sat on my arse playing computer games has left me with the spine of an 80 year old.

and I hear what you're saying about not wanting to be slow at the start of a deadlift. The slow, controlled tempo for the RDLs is just while I learn the proper form. I expect to be using VERY light weights and a very slow tempo for a good few months.

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