Is it okay for your knees to go past your toes during a squat??

Quick tips on when it’s okay for your knees to go past your toes.

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Knees going past toes is a natural human movement pattern during many skills e.g. jumping – in particular jumping forwards. It usually only becomes an issue when involving weights – particularly in beginners.

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❌ If during the deepest part of the squat, the bar position is above the toes (green line). This is indicative of dangerous amounts of force being put through the knees.

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✅ If during the deepest part of the squat, the ‘bar’ position is above the midsole. This suggests the force of lifting the ‘bar’, is being more evenly distributed through the knees & hips – reducing chances of a knee injury.

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🔑 Shifting your body weight back away from toes & into midsole & heel. Practice this during your unloaded warm up drills. ▫️

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Alternatively, if focusing on promoting sport specific movement patterns – like those in sprinting – shifting weight into toes is preferable.

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🔳Bridging The Gap Between Strength & Performance🔳©️

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🏋🏻‍♀️ @ann_lovi @cctheplantbasedpt .

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*Notes to user* There are also other important variables to consider when allowing knees to go past toes. DM me for more detailed advice.

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The difference between Jump Squatting & Plyometrics

Quick tips for understanding the difference between Squat Jumping exercises and Plyometric exercises. I see a lot of people getting them mixed up. They’re both good for your body, but each produces differing results – and which one you should do, depends on your goals.

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1. Normal Squat Jumps – typically mean, a DEEPER (fuller) range of movement on the ascent & decent phases. This is good, because it works more muscles, raises the heart rate higher, and burns ‘more’ calories. So it’s great for HIIT and Body sculpting workouts.

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2. Plyometric Squat Jumping – requires as short a ground contact time as possible, thus a shallower range of movement – less time between decent and ascent phase. This is how you appropriately utilities the muscle/tendon stretch shortening cycle aka a plyometric movement. This type if exercise is perfect for increasing running speed & jump height (but not exclusively so). In fact, studies have shown that true plyometric movement is one with a ground contact time of less that 0.2sec. Anything longer than that, actually shouldn’t be called plyometrics 😱

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So why do one or the other? – I recommend, if your goal is to lose weight or burn fat then normal squat jumping is probably the better choice. However, If you play any sport like tennis, football, rugby or track & field and want to improve your running speed, Jumping ability & or agility then plyometric squat jumping is better.

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**Note to user**

I’m not saying that one type of squat jumping can’t produce the physical adaptations of the other, just that one is more efficient at it than the other. Furthermore, jumping based exercises are not for beginners, if you have poor technique you can do yourself SERIOUS short term and long term damage.

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🔳Fall in love with the process and the results will come🔳

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🔳Stay Perpetually Alpha🔳 ©️

High Bar Back Squat Technical Model Overview

High Bar Back Squat Technical Model Overview:

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The high bar back squat is more commonly known as the Back Squat. ‘High Bar’ refers, as one can see in the image above [16] to the position of the bar on ones back – Slightly above the level of acromion and below C7 [6,17, 19], aka on the musculature at the bottom of the neck/top of the back. Furthermore to differentiate it from the ‘Low Bar’ variation which is to be discussed in a future piece. The reasons for this will be discussed later on, for now lets have a look at the UKSCA technical model presented in table 1 [19] combined with an overview of the skill as laid out by the same UKSCA author [19]. For the sake of clarity I will explain that although this is an explanation of the skill by a single author, as he is associated with UKSCA he will be following a standardised technical model from within that association – the leading body for UK based Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaches.

High Bar Back Squat Overview [20]

The back squat is a knee and hip extensor exercise. The list below highlights the key muscles that are used in the correct execution of the back squat and the muscle action:

  • Quadriceps-knee extension
  • Gluteus maximus-hip extension
  • Gluteus medius (posterior fibres) – hip extension and lateral    hip rotation
  • Hamstrings-hip extension
  • Erector spinae-spinal and pelvic stabilization
  • Latissimus dorsi-spinal and pelvic stabilization
  • Adductors (magnus, longus, brevis, minimus)-assist with hip extension and stabilisation
  • Abdominals- spinal and pelvic stabilisation

 

Table 1

Position Description Problems Variation/Solutions
Start Position Hands evenly spaced shoulder width apart on bar Unable to have shoulder width grip due to poor shoulder external rotation Widen grip until comfortable
Bar positioned just below C7 across upper trapezius and rear deltoids-high bar Pain across neck where bar is positioned Ensure bar is below 7th cervical vertebrae Low bar-positioned below rear deltoids and upper trapezius
Athlete stands extended through spine, hips and knees-bracing spinal musculature Unable to hold extended position Ensure athlete has no spinal pathology that limits ability to extend thoracic and lumbar spine. Has ability to hold correct posture without bar or load
Feet are positioned just outside shoulder width with toes pointing slightly outwards Potential depth problems Allow athlete to experiment with stance width to find a comfortable position that allows a full range of motion
Decent Athlete takes a breath in at start
Unlocks hips and begins to flex at knees with a slight anterior lean with trunk
Hips go behind heels and knees and hips flexed until femur is parallel with floor Unable to reach parallel Widen stance, point toes out slightly
Feet remain flat throughout Heels come off floor Check ankle range of motion. Widen stance, turn feet out slightly. Raise heel of shoe (weightlifting shoe)
Knees go beyond toes in the sagittal plane and maintain alignment over toes in the coronal plane
Athlete maintains anterior trunk lean throughout motion maintaining lumbar lordosis and thoracic rigidity 1. Athlete leans too far forward

2. Athlete allows lumbar spine to flex

3. Allows thoracic spine to flex

1. Widen stance, adjust load, encourage athlete to drive and extend hip

2. Ensure that athlete can posteriorly and anteriorly tilt pelvis in an unloaded situation. Adjust load and practice correct movement patterns

3. Encourage athlete to keep chest up and to keep their elbows under bar and not extend behind their body

Ascent Feet forcefully driven into floor
Knees and hips extend
Knees maintain position over toes in coronal plane Knees deviate inwards and hips internally rotate Possible weakness in hip abductors.

Increased foot pronation.

Load too heavy?

Single leg exercises may need to be considered in conjunction with reinforcement of squatting movement pattern

Hips raised at the same tempo as bar Hips raised at a higher tempo than bar Athlete has relative weakness in hip extensors.

Load is too heavy?

Encourage athlete to extend at hip forcefully through sticking point

Spinal curvature is maintained (rigid extended thoracic and lumbar lordosis) Lumbar and thoracic flexion Load too heavy?

Weakness in spinal extensors

Encourage athlete to drive chest up

Breath out through mid range of movement (sticking point)

Following on from this technical model I would like to explain the evidence based rational behind the key technical aspects of the skill, as presented within this model.

Gaze

This is different from head position, as it refers specifically to where the individual is looking. Their head alignment should remain neutral and their gaze straight ahead and not downwards as this can lead to increased hip and trunk flexion. A position that can cause increased torque on the vertebral column [1, 6, 15, 17].

Trunk Position

Maintaining a stiff torso and neutral lordotic lumbar position is a safe and optimal way to squat. Failure to do so combined with poor lifting mechanic increases the potential to overload the spine and back tissues to the point of causing injury [13,14,15].

Knee position in relation to toes;

The individual should prevent knee valgus (knees falling inwards), as this is structurally a weaker position for the knee when attempting to lift a load through the sagittal (up and down) plane and can damage the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) [17]. They should also prevent excessive forward translation of the tibia past the toes, as this will increase the shear forces at the knee and increasing the chance of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries [17, 11]. However some translation over the knee is acceptable as preventing this completely can increase anterior lean of the trunk, hip and lumbar shear forces [16, 10].

 Muscle Activation in relation to; Squat Depth & Feet Width Position

 Squat Depth

During Electromyographic (EMG) studies have shown that squatting at 45 degrees (half Squat), 90 degrees (parallel Squat) and 125 degrees (full squat) resulted in a larger and larger contribution from the gluteus maximus [2, 16]. However the full squat produces pelvic tilt that compromises the lumber spine, in that natural lordotic curve is lost, thus reducing the activation of the lumbar erector muscles, and placing the spinal column in a weaker and less safe position for coping with heavier loads [5, 16].

Feet Width

Studies have shown that there is no significant effect on muscle activity of lower limb muscles between 75-140% shoulder width [7, 8, 3, 16, 18]. However it is worth considering that a wider stance helps externally rotate the hip during the decent phase, facilitating parallel and full squat depth [19]. Furthermore its been shown that there is an increased activation of the adductor muscle when feet stance is greater than shoulder width [3, 16]. Therefore this increased activation of muscles used will increase the potential for force production during the lift.

In summary I hope that this overview has provided you with a clearer understanding of the exercise’s technical model and the rationales behind its structure. However as a cautionary point, I would suggest that the limitations of such a well established and seemingly robust model is that it can perhaps limit an S&C coaches creativity and impede his or hers instinct for growth and further learning. After all as long as one follows an evidence-based philosophy to exercise prescription, there is no reason that deviations to this model, which provide equal or superior adaptations to training won’t be found in the future. Stagnation is the enemy of all progression.

 

References:

  1. BRanTa, C. F. (2010). Sport specialization: Developmental and learning issues. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance81(8), 19-28.
  2. Caterisano, A., MOSS, R. E., PELLINGER, T. K., WOODRUFF, K., LEWIS, V. C., BOOTH, W., & KHADRA, T. (2002). The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research16(3), 428-432.
  3. CAW, S. T. M., & Melrose, D. R. (1999). Stance width and bar load effects on leg muscle activity during the parallel squat.
  4. Comfort, P., & Kasim, P. (2007). Optimizing Squat Technique. Strength & Conditioning Journal29(6), 10-13.
  5. Delitto, R. S., & Rose, S. J. (1992). An electromyographic analysis of two techniques for squat lifting and lowering. Physical therapy72(6), 438-448.
  6. Donnelly, D. V., Berg, W. P., & Fiske, D. M. (2006). The effect of the direction of gaze on the kinematics of the squat exercise. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research20(1), 145-150.
  7. Escamilla, R. F., Fleisig, G. S., Zheng, N., Barrentine, S. W., Wilk, K. E., & Andrews, J. R. (1998). Biomechanics of the knee during closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain exercises. Medicine and science in sports and exercise30(4), 556-569.
  8. Escamilla, R. F., Fleisig, G. S., Zheng, N. A. I. Q. U. A. N., Lander, J. E., Barrentine, S. W., Andrews, J. R., … & Moorman, C. T. (2001). Effects of technique variations on knee biomechanics during the squat and leg press.Medicine and science in sports and exercise33(9), 1552-1566.
  9. Escamilla, R. F. (2001). Knee biomechanics of the dynamic squat exercise.Medicine and science in sports and exercise33(1), 127-141.
  10. Fry, A. C., Smith, J. C., & Schilling, B. K. (2003). Effect of knee position on hip and knee torques during the barbell squat. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research17(4), 629-633.
  11. Klein, K. K. (1961). The deep squat exercise as utilized in weight training for athletes and its effects on the ligaments of the knee. JAPMR15(1), 6-11.
  12. McLaughlin, T. M., Lardner, T. J., & Dillman, C. J. (1978). Kinetics of the parallel squat. Research Quarterly. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation49(2), 175-189.
  13. McGill, S. M., Marshall, L., & Andersen, J. (2013). Low back loads while walking and carrying: comparing the load carried in one hand or in both hands. Ergonomics56(2), 293-302.
  14. McKean, M. R., Dunn, P. K., & Burkett, B. J. (2010). The lumbar and sacrum movement pattern during the back squat exercise. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(10), 2731-2741.
  15. Myer, G. D., Kushner, A. M., Brent, J. L., Schoenfeld, B. J., Hugentobler, J., Lloyd, R. S., … & McGill, S. M. (2014). The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance.Strength and conditioning journal36(6), 4-27.
  16. Ninos, J. C., Irrgang, J. J., Burdett, R., & Weiss, J. R. (1997). Electromyographic analysis of the squat performed in self-selected lower extremity neutral rotation and 30 of lower extremity turn-out from the self-selected neutral position. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy,25(5), 307-315.
  17. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). Squatting kinematics and kinetics and their application to exercise performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(12), 3497-3506.
  18. Signorile, J. F., Kwiatkowski, K., Caruso, J. F., & Robertson, B. (1995). Effect of Foot Position on the Electromyographical Activity of the Superficial Quadriceps Muscles During the Parallel Squat and Knee Extension. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research9(3), 182-187.
  19. Yule, S. (2005). The back squat. The UK Strength and Conditioning Association Newsletter2, 11-15.

 

By Alpha Maurice Cidade Cauwenbergh


© Alpha Maurice Cidade Cauwenbergh – Alphaleveltraining.com 2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alpha Maurice Cidade Cauwenbergh –Alphaleveltraining.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Dead Lift (Part 1): You’re doing it wrong?

As a Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coach or Personal Trainer (PT) you often find yourself critiquing another individual’s Dead Lift (DL) – whether that be an athlete with a relatively young or mature training age, or a recreational health and fitness enthusiast with minimal or vast experience of the power lift. You watch the biomechanics of their lift making a point to seek out any of the tell-tale kinematic deficiencies that would be symptomatic of poor lift execution – in turn yielding improper kinetic force production that, either dangerously stresses the muscles, joints and connective tissues or, is inappropriate for completing the lift at the desired load. If all the above are in action then you feel compelled to intervene and offer your expertise, with the only barrier being their ego or that doing so would put you in direct contradiction of the S&C coach that demonstrated this technical model. However the real problem comes when your own arrogance or impertinence doesn’t allow you to recognise the gaps in your knowledge. So is their DL technique wrong and/ or dangerous? Or, are they just using a variation of the conventional DL that you are unfamiliar with? One with different prime movers, synergists and injury risk parameters? One that more suits their training goals and is of greater dynamic correspondence to their sport? However, by that same token, you as the athlete or gym user should consider why you are doing that particular dead lift? If you cannot answer that by explaining; which variation you are using, what muscles you are targeting, what the injury risk parameters are, how it fits in with your training strategy/ goal then there is a very good chance that you are doing it wrong and or dangerously.

The different types of dead lifts

This particular factor is important for even MSc and UKSCA (UK Strength & Conditioning Association) qualified coaches because those qualification assessment sessions do not necessarily explore all known variants to this power lift, and instead focus (among other things) on the conventional DL and one other ‘mainstream’ variation i.e. the Romanian DL, even if in an indirect way. This is shown in figure 1, which is the assessment criteria for the UKSCA practical accreditation which is also mirrored by the MSc practical assessment.

AssesmentFigure 1 (http://www.uksca.org.uk/assessments/)

The third criterion in figure 1 asks for a demonstration of the technical model of the Clean and Jerk or Snatch., both of which have a ‘start’ and ‘beginning’ phase (commonly known as the ‘set position’ and ‘first pull’) that are similar to the conventional DL with the ‘beginning’ phase mirroring the end point of the Romanian DL eccentric phase, as seen in figure 2,

UntitledFigure 2 (http://mymodules.stmarys.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=10921)

hence the focus on those DL variations during the practical learning process. This centralised focus is most likely due to the fact that those DL can act as starting points for eventual progression into the Olympic lifts seen in figure 2 [2,5]. Moreover, once progressed to the Olympic lifts, the dynamic correspondence to the sporting skills found in the majority of mainstream UK team and individual sports is greater than those of the other variants e.g. the Hang Clean to the vertical jump [8,10], which for one are not incorporated in the technical model of the Olympic lifts, and are specified towards the sports for which they were created. To those outside the MSc academic process, this method may seem flawed and incomplete, but at masters level you aim to become a highly critical self sufficient scientist of the strength and conditioning field. Meaning wherever you see a gap in your knowledge you actively seek to fill it via peer reviewed literary sources, which is exactly what I have aimed to do with the DL.

Reviewing the papers of Bird and Barrington-Higgs (2010) [1] and Piper and Waller (2001) [12] presents you with a combined list of twelve DL variants. They are listed below;

Conventional DL

Sumo DL

Stiff-Legged DL

Romanian DL

Power Rack DL

Machine DL

Snatch DL

Dumbbell DL

One-arm DL

Strongman DL

Fat-bar DL

Finger-grip DL

Although these papers appear well researched, I would not go as far as to say that this is an exhaustive list, as sports and their training regimes evolve all the time. However, the sport specific variants appear to cover all major 1st world sports, leading to the reasonable conclusion that an S&C coach working in this part of the world can treat this list as pretty robust.

All DL exercises are predominantly designed to utilise (but not exclusively) some or all the posterior chain muscle from the knee joint up, as well as the arm musculature e.g. the forearms. But this of course varies dependent on the particular DL. This piece is not an exercise in describing the technical model for each DL, or determining if one lift variation is superior to another for x,y,z reason (to be addressed in a future piece), but a brief descriptive analysis of what the literature shows each to be specified towards in terms of muscle activation, sport specificity and rehabilitation applications.

Conventional DL

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Figure 3 (www.powerx.us)

 As one can assume from its name there is a lot more literature on this lift, the biomechanical and EMG analysis performed in various papers, though not always being uniform in agreement, overall suggest that the predominant muscles activated are glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and spinal erectors [2,3,6,7,9] To what degree each is firing throughout the movement is difficult to quantify because of the subject to subject variability in skill and movement pattern used even when aiming to adhere to a clear technical model. However, results do lean towards the understanding that quadriceps and spinal extensor muscle are/should be the most neurologically recruited muscles and the hip extensor muscles (glutes) recruited for the highest percentage of the movement time [2,3,6,9]. In terms of which sports this lift or any lift in fact is most applicable too is not necessarily a black and white matter. As although one could simply look at what muscles are predominantly used during the lift and seek for a similar correspondence with the skills used in a particular sport. It can be argued that in any cohort of athletes you will find different movement patterns to achieve the same skill outcome. This can be down to gender or ability level, this is well illustrated in the work of Chappell, (2006;2007) [4]. Therefore a DL prescription that’s not considerate of the firing pattern of athletes chosen movement strategy would be counter productive. An opposition to this idea would prescribe the athlete the scientifically tried and tested movement strategies, effectively making the relearn the skill. However as an S&C coach you have ask yourself if this is an meaningful use of yours and the athlete’s time? If the athlete is able to achieve high levels of performance, than could it be better to prescribe DL lifts that complements his or her already learnt movement pattern? For example selecting a less quad flexion based DL like the stiff-leg DL as opposed to one more so like the conventional DL – for an athlete who doesn’t fully utilise their potential for increased muscle recruitment via hip and knee flexion during their Vertical Jump. Answering these questions fully is beyond the scope of this piece but illustrates well the importance of understand the different DL and how they work kinetically and kinematically when making exercise prescriptions for yourself and others. Saying that, there are sports that have long been associated with particular DL variations, and bee integral in producing elite level performance. Therefore not using that information as at least a compass on the journey towards effective training modalities and enhanced performance with be negligent. For the Conventional DL traditionally it would be applicable to the training regimes of (but not exclusively) Football, Rugby and Volleyball. From a sports rehabilitation perspective based on the muscle activation rates and patterns this DL could be used in athlete’s recovering from hamstring strains (depending on severity & location in hamstring muscle group), as it would allow continued conditioning of the upper posterior chain while placing lower stress on the hamstrings in comparison to stiff leg or Romanian DL[1,14].

Sumo DL

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Figure 4 (www.deadlifttips.net)

This DL varient appears to recruit more of the quads, both inner (Vastus medialis) and outer (vastus Lateralis), the upper trapezius and has a lower recruitment of the lumbar erector muscles than the conventional DL [9,10,11]. Although the studies cited have used subjects of different levels, whose skill at the lift would greatly differ, they have reached similar findings – in regards to muscle activation rates and patterns. Traditionally this variant has been employed with wrestling and American football, specifically linebackers [2,12]. Observing this lifts wide ‘set position’ in figure 3 it is intuitively obvious why. As with the previous lift variant the key to application is understand how the lift works (prime movers/ synergists) and then prescribing it accordingly. For example utilising the lower activation of the lumbar erector muscles in athletes with injury related weaknesses in that area but still seeking to strengthen other areas within this movement pattern. I couldn’t find any specific literature that showed the effectiveness of such an intervention, however I believe the logic to be evidenced based enough to give the rational credence.

Stiff-Legged DL

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Figure 5 (www.directlyfitness.com)

This particular variant stands out from the ones described so far as it’s set position is the ‘finish position’ of the conventional DL, with the first movement being the eccentric phase as opposed to the concentric like to Sumo and Conventional DL. In looking through the literature I have noticed that the term ‘Stiff- Legged’ DL also gets applied to what in fact is the Romanian DL. This most likely is due to the fact that both require the knee joint to remain still throughout the eccentric phase, however there is a reported 15-degree difference in flexion at the joint at the point of stiffness – which in turn significantly alters the firing patterns of the muscles being used [10]. The EMG readings for this lift indicate that the predominant muscles activated are in the posterior chain (Lumbar spine extensors, glutes and hamstrings), with the quadriceps muscles- less involved in producing force for either concentric or eccentric phases compared to the previous variations [14,1]. Furthermore these papers found that the hamstring muscles and gluteal muscles have the highest relative time spent in activation. It’s practical application has traditionally focused on diving and gymnastic sports, from a rehabilitation perspective, other than obviously targeting the predominant muscles being activated in order to strengthen their resilience to eccentric stress i.e. hamstring strain prone thighs. They can also alleviate the stress on the anterior knee, lending to a possible application for those recovering from anterior knee injuries but still wanting to train the posterior chain via the DL.

Romanian DL

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Figure 6 www.mensfitness.com)

In this variation of the DL the muscular activation differences are very similar to those found in the Stiff-Leg DL, the main difference observed with muscle activation being instigated by the difference in the joint angle at the knee during both eccentric and concentric phases. This was alluded to in the previous section; however going deeper into this is a limited endeavour by comparison because there is very little literature on this. In fact most of the information I have gathered in the Romanian DL muscle firing patterns are found in bits and pieces within Stiff Leg DL research. With the authors making reference to the different knee flexion angles between the two and that this increased knee flexion shifts the work load higher up the hamstring musculature [10]. The applications of this variant for sporting performance, training and rehabilitation are also in line with those used for the Stiff-leg DL. However this may perhaps change if and when more research has been carried out on this lift.

After this, the alternative DL mentioned in the list becomes even more specified towards sports, activities and training/rehabilitation interventions, moreover they are often iterations of the ‘mainstream lifts’. This subsequently results in very limited peer reviewed research, with the S&C scientific community focused on the ‘mainstream’/parent (more commonly used in practice) DL. For that reason I’ve decided to describe those lifts superficially in terms of how they are often applied in an S&C setting, leaving scope for more detailed analysis in the future. Saying that, it should be recognised that a deeper understanding of the ‘mainstream lifts’ will provide a solid foundation upon which education rationales and biomechanical inferences can be postulated about which muscles these other alternative DL use predominantly recruit and their applicability.

Power Rack DL

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Figure 7 (www.menshealth.co.uk)

This DL allows for heavier loads to be lifted with a focus on the low-mid back spinal erector muscles. Good prescription for those with flexion limiting back/lower limb weakness/injuries.

 

 

Machine DL

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Figure 8 (www.jerseygirltalk.com)

The Machine DL is simply a machine-assisted way of performing any of the DL variants, usually utilizing a Smith Machine. And as such will have a similar applicability as the unassisted DL version-minus the functional trunk and total body stability/strength gained from balancing a load as you lift. The main benefit of this DL is the ability to lift heavier than possible unassisted.

 

 

Snatch DL

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Figure 9 (www.stupideaspaleo.com)

The Snatch DL is a Conventional or Romanian DL with a wider Snatch grip. This variation has been predominantly used for conditioning the body for the Snatch Olympic Lift. It can also be used for individuals with longer arms or hyper flexible hamstrings in order to increase the eccentric loading in those muscles at a higher point in that phase of the movement.

 

Dumbbell DL

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Figure 10 (www.mensfitness.com)

This iteration of the Conventional/Romanian DL is made different by the use of Dumbbells as opposed to a barbell, again research on the kinematic and kinetic differences this would induce are extremely limited. However the change of size and shape of the load will stress the muscles differently due to differing stability demands.

 

 

One-arm DL

 UntitledFigure 11 (www.gymowl.com)

The One-arm DL has been implemented traditionally to increase the demand for trunk stabilisation from the inner and outer core unit in conjunction with the spinal erector muscles, very useful for athletes in sports requiring bilateral throwing or swinging motions i.e. discus, golf, baseball and cricket. Anecdotally it would be fascinating to research what corrective affect this would have on individuals with imbalances in their lumbar spine musculature due to scoliosis and/or injury.

 

Strongman DL

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Figure 12 (www.ironmind.com)

This DL, essentially is used to condition the same muscles as a Conventional DL, but with the focus being on lifting loads of unconventional size and shape something I eluded to with the dumbbell DL. These can range from tires to actual vehicles to large logs. With even a rudimentary understanding of physics one can intuitively see how lifting loads of different three dimensional widths and lengths but equal mass can change to intensity, difficulty and muscular recruitment pattern of a lift.

 

Fat-Bar DL

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Figure 13 (www.rouguefitness.com)

The Fat-bar DL utilises a thicker bar to increase the stress placed on your phalangeal flexors aka your grip, with a view to strengthening said musculature and improving grip strength when using the regular (thinner) bar. This is not the only method of improving grip strength and its effectiveness over other methods such as the Hand Strengtheners is not clinically proven. So its uses come down to personal preference, anecdotally implied efficiency and intuitively recognisable appropriateness.

 

 Finger-grip DL

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Figure 14 (David Yeung -Youtube.com)

Athletes in sports that require high levels of isometric finger flexor strength, most commonly employ this specialised grip version of the DL variants. Sports such as rock climbing, archery, basketball and gymnastics [2].

 

 

 

In conclusion when selecting which DL to use your rational for using the exercise is the key. A rational based on a profound understanding of the biomechanics of each variation and the physiological adaptation of those kinetics and kinematics will favour. If that cognisant process is thorough and robust then it is far more likely that you are in fact doing it right. A caveat to this, is that the S&C practice is an ever evolving one, and as an S&C coach you have to be prepared to put your ego aside and adapt the training prescriptions accordingly. As a professional or recreational athlete do not be afraid to seek expert advice on your training regime no matter your training age and whether or not you believe you are performing the exercise correctly. Both parties can often benefit from the proceeding discourse. Furthermore, highly experienced trainers will be able to spot minute flaws in your DL execution with nothing more than several cursory glances; so do not be offended if advice is offered. We are all here to dominate the dead lift.

 

References:

  1. Bezerra, E. S., Simao, R., Fleck, S. J., Paz, G., Maia, M., Costa, P. B.. . Serrao, J. C. (2013). Electromyographic activity of lower body muscles during the deadlift and still-legged deadlift. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 16(3), 30.
  2. Bird, S., & Barrington-Higgs, B. (2010). Exploring the deadlift. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(2), 46-51. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181d59582
  3. Camara, K. D., Coburn, J. W., Dunnick, D. D., Brown, L. E., Galpin, A. J., & Costa, P. B. (2016). An examination of muscle activation and power characteristics while performing the deadlift exercise with straight and hexagonal barbells. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(5), 1183-1188. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001352
  4. Chappell, J. (2007;2006;). Kinematics and electromyography of landing preparation in vertical stop-jump: Risks for noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury. Am J Sports Med, 35(2), 235-241. doi:10.1177/0363546506294077
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By Alpha Maurice Cidade Cauwenbergh


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