What is a deadlift?
As defined by Wikipedia.com, a deadlift is a weightlifting movement where a loaded barbell is lifted off the ground from a stabilized, bent over position into a fully upright position.
Why are deadlifts important to CrossFit?
Aside from the obvious high volume and high intensity practice of this lift in CrossFit, the deadlift actually serves a purpose separate of being an excuse to grunt like a caveman or hog all the bumper plates. It is an exercise essential to strength, movement, and stability.
The deadlift largely targets and conditions the posterior chain of muscles (i.e., rhomboids, erector spinae, gluteals, biceps femoris). These muscles not only provide midline stability in sagittal plane exercises, but they also provide for the large power output demanded by the barbell and gymnastic movements in most WODs. Most barbell movements begin with the loaded barbell on the ground — thus making the deadlift an essential skill. Because WODs can vary between high-volume and high-intensity (or possess both), it is imperative that the posterior chain, among other things, is properly conditioned.
Also, both the highly-advanced Olympic lifts (clean & jerk and snatch) are a staple in CrossFit. These high-velocity lifts are posterior chain intensive, making the deadlift a crucial part of any strength-building phase leading into an Olympic lifting cycle or program.
Since both the starting and finishing position of the deadlift are the same, it is vital that the set-up is properly executed in order to obtain the optimal benefit of the lift and to prevent the chances of injury.
What is the proper set-up position to begin the deadlift?
Though the set-up for a proper deadlift is fairly straightforward, it is often done improperly or compromised for the sake of intensity. If this sounds familiar to you, we can help you diagnose your specific area of improvement below.
- Setting up too far from or too close to the barbell;
- Rounded lower back;
- Starting in a full squat position (hips are too low);
- Starting with little to no bend in the knees (hips are too high);
- Looking down;
- Failure to breathe properly (not engaging the abdominals).
Rounded lower back
Here, the team at Dieselcrew.com lay out a very comprehensive article on the deadlift. The take home points here are the intricacies at the set-up:
- Proximity of the shins to the barbell;
- Distance between the feet;
- Deep breath to activate intra-abdominal pressure (midline stability);
- Forcing the abdominals outward prior to lifting.
For more visual demonstrations of these common issues, Mark Rippetoe (a ubiquitous source in the CrossFit community) thoroughly explains the dynamics of the deadlift in this series of videos. In four separate segments, he models the set-up with different athletes and emphasizes the key relationship of how the bar must align with the body in order to pull successfully.
Consolidating all these useful resources, below is a summary of common deadlift set-up faults, corrections, and why each are important:
Armed with this knowledge, your spine can rejoice in the prospect of many proper set-ups to come. Intensity does not have to come at the cost of form!
Deadlift 40%x5 50%x5 60%x5+
50 air squats
100 m run
40 power cleans 115/75
100 m run
30 ab mat sit ups
100 m run
20 kb swings 70/55
100 m run
10 push ups
All movements must be done in unison or rep doesn’t count. Both will do all reps.
Runs must be together also.
Score is total time!!!