Latest Hip Dominant Workout

My latest leg workout with @collettemichelle – focusing primarily on hip dominant movement patterns & GAINZ. Apparently dancing at the end of a workout is great for recovery 😅🤓😎

▫️

▫️

🔳Stay Perpetually Alpha 🔳

Power, Speed, Agility

Sze & Sophie’s first session training to achieve their #alphalevel The focus was improving, power, speed, agility, & visual information processing. Although i can see many ways in which their coordination & running mechanics can be improved, their effort levels were faultless 💪🏾 One thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of not trying to correct every technical fault you see in that moment. Instead i focus on making one or two small but meaningful changes on a session by session basis. They have so much athletic talent & i can’t wait to help them achieve greatness.

.

.

Tag your gym bae 🏃‍♂️🏃🏻‍♀️

▫️

▫️

🔳Stay Perpetually Alpha🔳 ©️

▫️

▫️

🔳Be better than you were yesterday 🔳

.

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.

▫️

▫️

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.

▫️

▫️

❌ 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.

▫️

▫️

✅ 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.

▫️

▫️

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

▫️

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

▫️

▫️

🔳Bridging The Gap Between Strength & Performance🔳©️

.

.

🏋🏻‍♀️ @ann_lovi @cctheplantbasedpt .

.

.

.

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

Improving High Bar Back Squat Performance

Quick tips for improving high bar back squat performance. Force production is a key underpinning factor in squat performance. In this case performance = how heavy you can lift.

▫️

▫️

1. Stretching the soleus – This mobilises your ankle joint and the surrounding musculature. Preparing it to move more deeply and efficiently during the descent phase of the squat.

▫️

▫️

2. Hip Flexor Dips – Relaxed and lengthened hip flexors will allow more mobility in the surrounding musculature of the hip joint. Specifically, it will allow fuller hip extension (butt squeeze) at the top of your squat. Which is useful for re-aligning your hips before restarting the next rep. And a good habit to into for future progression into jumping based exercises.

▫️

▫️

3. Adductor stretch – This type of groin stretch will open up your hips, and allow you to sit more comfortably in the wider the shoulders feet stance of the back squat. Helping you shift your body weight backwards into your heels, which helps activate your glutes more.

▫️

▫️

4. Squatting with a weight held in your out stretched hands. This drill and it’s gradual progressions of less weight/no weight/hands behind head, is to slowly teach you how to properly distribute your body weight back into hip muscles and heels when at the optimal & safest point of force production in your squat (90 degrees).

▫️

▫️

5. Position feet slighter wider than your shoulders – this can be key for lifting heavier. Squat width is variable, depending on what muscles in your legs you want to focus on. But if you want to lift as much as possible, within whatever rep range you’re working at then you want to activate as many muscles as possible. And this wider squat stance will recruit your adductors more increasing the potential for force production and a heavier lift. Furthermore, a wider stance helps move the hips more freely, facilitating the parallel squat.

▫️

▫️

Thank you @megan for being my demo girl! Who knew your dab was so POWERFUL

▫️

▫️

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

▫️

▫️

🔳Stay Perpetually Alpha🔳 ©️

▫️

▫️

**Note to user**

This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other ways to improve high bar back squat performance & technique.

Improving posture during dead lifting

Quick tips for improving deadlifting in individuals who cannot hip flex while maintaining a ‘straight’ back. In my experience this is due to tight hamstrings inhibiting the movement. However, i found it can also be simply due to lack of familiarity with this movement pattern. In both cases, this progression scale can help.

▫️

▫️

1. PNF (contract and relax) stretching of the hamstrings to increase their length over time. This increased length should allow for a greater degree uninhibited hip flexion. This is best done with the assistance of a partner, but using a towel for resistance works too.

▫️

▫️

2. Dead lifting on your knees from an elevated platform (I feel like i invented this regression 🤓 but I probably didn’t). This removes the inhibiting hamstrings out of the equation, helping you effortlessly hip flex with a ‘straight’ back. Add an olympic bar to increase difficulty.

▫️

▫️

3. Dead Lift standing upright, with the bar on an elevated platform. This progression will help use the newly learned correct hip flexing and posture technique in a practical sense. While still staying within the limits of hamstring flexibility. As the hamstring length increases over time, keep reducing the hight of the platform pushing your ability to maintain the correct posture deeper and deeper into dead lift.

▫️

▫️

4. Perform the conventional dead lift like a BOSS.

▫️

▫️

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

▫️

▫️

🔳Stay Perpetually Alpha🔳 ©️

▫️

▫️

**Note to user**

This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other ways to improve dead lifting technique. Furthermore their effectiveness will be determined by what the underlying causes for the biomechanical deficiencies.

High Bar Back Squat Technical Model Overview

High Bar Back Squat Technical Model Overview:

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

 Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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
  5. Duba, J., Kraemer, W. J., & Martin, G. (2007). A 6-step progression model for teaching the hang power clean. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 29(5), 26-35. doi:10.1519/00126548-200710000-00004
  6. Escamilla, R. F., Francisco, A. C., Kayes, A. V., Speer, K. P., & Moorman, 3., Claude T. (2002). An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34(4), 682-688. doi:10.1097/00005768-200204000-00019
  7. Hales, M. (2010). Improving the deadlift: Understanding biomechanical constraints and physiological adaptations to resistance exercise. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(4), 44-51. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181e5e300
  8. Hori, N., Newton, R. U., Andrews, W. A., Kawamori, N., McGuigan, M. R., & Nosaka, K. (2008). Does performance of hang power clean differentiate performance of jumping, sprinting, and changing of direction? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(2), 412-418. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318166052b
  9. Nijem, R. M., Coburn, J. W., Brown, L. E., Lynn, S. K., & Ciccone, A. B. (2016). Electromyographic and force plate analysis of the deadlift performed with and without chains. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(5), 1177-1182. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001351
  10. Piper, T. J., & Waller, M. A. (2001). Variations of the deadlift. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 23(3), 66. doi:10.1519/00126548-200106000-00013
  11. Scherfenberg, E., & Burns, S. (2013). Implementing hang cleans for the improvement of vertical jump in high school athletes. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 16(2), 50.
  12. Stoppani, J. (2008). On trial: Conventional deadlifts vs. sumo deadlifts: Besides the stance, what’s the difference between doing deadlifts the conventional way versus the sumo version? Weider Publications LLC.
  13. Escamilla, R. F., Francisco, A. C., Fleisig, G. S., Barrentine, S. W., Welch, C. M., Kayes, A. V.. . Andrews, J. R. (2000). A three-dimensional biomechanical analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32(7), 1265-1275. doi:10.1097/00005768-200007000-00013
  14. WRIGHT, G. A., DELONG, T. H., & GEHLSEN, G. (1999). Electromyographic activity of the hamstrings during performance of the leg curl, stiff-leg deadlift, and back squat movements. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13(2), 168-174. doi:10.1519/00124278-199905000-00012

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.

Are your friends the biggest obstacle to you achieving your goals?

This question has come to mind based on my personal and professional experiences. Those as an athletic individual who has endeavoured to live a vigorous life for the last 15 years, and then as a Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coach training health and fitness enthusiasts and amateur to professional athletes over the last six years. Every one of these individuals, myself included, had their own specific training goals that they have invested time and money into the pursuit of. But how many actually achieve them?

In the professional realm, you can imagine that the success rate is most likely greater than at the sub-elite or recreational level. Although true, in my experience it’s still far lower than it should be – but perhaps that comes from a mind too bound by the philosophy of attaining one’s best version? As an S&C coach all you can do is implement the training interventions and modalities as best you can, providing as much technical and moral support as is necessary. However once you go beyond the scope of your time together with your client, your sphere of influence wanes and the client becomes vulnerable to a host of potentially negative extrinsic and intrinsic factors. And this is where I have noticed the most common similarities between what hinders these clients of all levels and professions from achieving their goals- the social aspects of their lives.

This brings us back to the question; are your friends the biggest obstacle to you achieving your goals? Well, firstly it’s important I just make it clear that there are obviously many other obstacles such as genetic and injury related ones, but in this piece I’m focusing on the social because, as mentioned above, its prevalence throughout all levels of physical training, its influence and the reduced control the S&C coach has over it sets it apart and puts it in place for special consideration. What are the types of social problems facing any individual that is attempting to train regularly in the pursuit of their goals? To begin with let’s examine the types of goals we’re referring to. These training goals range from the aesthetic – reduce body fat, increase muscle mass of intrinsically or extrinsically desirable body parts (pectorals, biceps, glutes, etc) and the performance based – improve strength, power, speed & endurance, etc. Then you have to ask what are the most important factors in achieving said goals? If we inspect those outside the S&C coach’s direct control, one would say, genetic limitations, nutrition, sleep, motivation and a support system are the most important. Looking at that list it should be intuitively obvious that a persons social environment can and will have significant effects on all bar one – the genetic limitations.

How specifically can it affect them? Well If I consolidate all my personal and professional experience with the anecdotal accounts of my fellow professionals with their clients’/athletes’ these are the pictures that get painted about the specific role of ones ‘friends’ in the hindering of their physical goals.

Let’s start with the big one – Nutrition. This, more often that not, is the biggest stumbling block with the recreational athlete or client, but can still prove challenging for professionals because, even though they maybe at a psychological level of determination, drive and habitualness that surpasses that of the non-professional, they were not always professional and as such would most likely not have been able to escape the types of social conditioning from birth to adulthood that creates unhealthy relationships with ‘junk food’ or counterproductive dietary habits. Its importance with the non-professional is often amplified by the fact that they;

  1. Generally possess goals that are skewed towards the aesthetic (e.g. gaining a ‘flat stomach’).
  2. Start their training regimes further away from their aesthetic target (e.g. I’ve put of lots of weight over the holiday period).
  3. Give themselves shorter time frames within which to achieve their goals (e.g. I have a holiday in 4 weeks).

Those three factors, though not an exhaustive list, give you an idea – and in each of those situations proper nutrition is just as, if not more, important than any training intervention one could wish to undertake. Now for the role of the ‘friend’ – which I define in this discussion as anyone who you exchange frequent interactions with and whose opinion can affect your decision-making. So for example, feeling the need to go on daily lunch or after work drinks with friends, feeling the need to go out to a bar/club for a heavily alcohol-focused night out every weekend, or when out for dinner – ordering meals you know you shouldn’t for fear of social mockery or alienation from the group. This effect of peer pressure is a well documented one, and one that extends to other unhealthy habits like smoking. However, complete discussion of those aspects is beyond the scope of this piece. Suffice to say, peer pressure is very detrimental to the kind of decision-making processes that lead to good nutrition and an increased potential to achieve aesthetic goals. The same goes for the professionals and their performance goals… Just look at the most recent example of professional footballer Gabriel Agbonlahor’s physical decline due to poor lifestyle choice – choices that (based on his explanations for his behaviour) were no doubt influenced in some way by his friendship group.

Next is sleep – this is an aspect of training that’s importance in homeostasis, fat loss, physiological adaptations and recovery is often understated or poorly recognized. There is a plethora of literature explaining said importance, but if we just look at it anecdotally, how many people have experienced disturbed sleeping patterns due to excessive alcohol intake, poor diet, late meals, and poor lifestyle choices? I predict a vast majority. And how many of the aforementioned were partaken in some part due to the influence of friends? Again I predict a vast majority.

Motivation – This can be more intrinsic or extrinsic depending on the individual’s personality type and experiences, and it would be hard to say which is greater in any given person. However, knowing that the external influences play a role, it’s safe to assume that negative or counterproductive extrinsic factors, will reduce the individual’s motivation to follow the training regime with the dedication and precision required to achieve their goals. These counterproductive external influences in the combined S&C experience of my peers and myself come in the form of friends, family, spouses and even fellow sportsmen and women. For example, a friend, family member, spouse, or peer suggesting that you come out for drinks, shisha, ill advised meals on the eve of your competition or training session because it’s their birthday. From their perspective this might make sense, but should their priorities be the same as yours? Should you feel bad for choosing your goals over theirs? Do you know their true motivations for asking this of you while knowing how important your training or competition is? Not a straightforward question to answer… The key is context and, more often than not, I have found the answer to all is a firm no. Simply because human nature is such that generally the only way to maintain one’s discipline and professionalism is by not allowing even the smallest backwards step or deviation outside of the prescribed planned ones (i.e. rest days, cheat days, off season periods, etc). We are habitual creatures and if your training regime becomes so regimented that its partaking becomes second nature, there is a greater chance of you seeing continual motivation-enhancing improvements and getting to the end goal successfully. Plus, although you may be able to trust the intensions of family or a spouse, can you trust those of your peers? Especially in non-team based sports? A question perhaps best answered in another piece, but food for thought nonetheless. Furthermore, you might be thinking a little drink or fast food here and there will not have a direct detrimental effect on your training and indirect effect on your motivation, and that in fact that little guilty pleasure might give you even more motivation via an improved mood or a guilt driven desire to train harder. Stop and think about this. The bad habits and psychological attachments and addiction we as a species have developed over the years with food, social interactions and smoking to name but a few, are never likely to be eradicated. Therefore, is dabbling in these behaviours in an unstructured way going to help you repress/control them or just increase the likelihood of a full relapse? This in turn breeds a turbulent guilt, shame, and self loathing cycle that destroys motivation – ultimately preventing you from achieving your training goals.

Finally, the support system, which is basically defining a particular type of close knit social group designed to give you emotional and practical help in your moments of need. In the professional realm, this can be the most important factor as the life of a modern day professional can become very lonely. In the early stages of their career they can find themselves becoming distanced from their former ‘real’ friends and having to make new ones whose motivations are harder to ascertain due to their increased financial wealth. The problem within this aspect of achieving ones goal’s is that a significant number of professionals and non-professionals do not have one to begin with- the professionals for the potential disingenuousness of those around them and the non-pros because those around them, family and spouse included, may not be living the same lifestyle as them. After all, for those of us who are regularly active, health and fitness may be the centre of our world, but we are still in the minority. And most people do not live lives anywhere close to conducive to an above average level of mental, physical and spiritual health, all of which regular exercise and good nutrition have been proved to have a positive affect on. This all means that when life or training is not going well and you are in need of support, they may not be the best people to provide it due to lack of experience or understanding of your plight – no matter the pureness of their intentions. Therefore, it could be a good idea when venturing on the road to an aesthetic or performance goal, to seek additional friendship from those following a similar path.

To conclude, the nature of human connection and interaction in the context of ones lifestyle choices, and pursuit of individual goals is a complicated one. However it’s clear that the people you see on a day-to-day basis – friend, foe, family or spouse will have a significant role to play in the attaining of said goals. So be very very mindful of who you allow to be close, and how much influence you permit their words to have on the decisions made about the body that has to carry you 365 days a year from beginning to end.

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.