The deadlift, or back crippler, is probably one of the most feared exercises in the fitness world. I’m not just talking about the newbie gym goer either. Talk to most bodybuilders and they will tell you they “can’t” deadlift because it hurts their back. I can almost guarantee 9/10 of these individuals are deadlifting with improper form or bracing/breathing techniques. And if you are sitting there wondering why bracing and breathing are even important, then this article is DEFINITELY for you.
I myself was guilty of deadlifting for a very long time without paying attention to my form or bracing. I, like many powerlifters, am what I like to call “farm strong”, meaning I am just naturally inclined to strength. Within my first month I muscled up two plates with excellent backbreaking, wet noodle technique. Followed by suffering dearly for weeks after.
There are many components that makeup building a good, strong and sound deadlift. Important aspects to deadlift form include, but are not limited to: Neutral spine position, lat engagement and mechanics/leverages.
As you come to learn proper technique, you will begin to identify aspects of your technique that may not be as strong. From here it is best to continue to work with moderate weights and then begin to implement accessories to help fix these imbalances. An example would be perhaps you have trouble packing your lats in (proper Latissimus dorsi engagement), you can then choose exercises to accompany the movement to help with strengthening the muscle and programming that mind/muscle connection. Something like a scapular (shoulder) pull-downs can help assist in this.
Bracing and breathing are probably the most important building blocks in your deadlift foundation, and in any lift for that matter. The saddest part is, it’s probably the most ignored concept. We breathe every day, the concept would seem innate, but what if I told you a majority of you have been doing it wrong your whole lives. Bracing is not just flexing your core, and breathing is not just filling your lungs. When performed correctly you want to imagine a balloon filling within your stomach from the bottom up, 360 degrees. Finalizing it by bracing this pressurization, protecting your back and creating a rigidity that will allow you to move weights safely and more efficiently.
Deadlifts are your friend, not your foe. If preformed properly and safely they can help strengthen your back and any imbalances you may have. It’s unfortunate so many stray away from them, as they are truly the best compound movement. A full-body workout that will burn fat, gain strength and build muscle.