Coaching and Cuing the Deadlift

The deadlift is an interesting and fickle creature of a lift. It is a great total body, multi-joint exercise. In reality it has several benefits for any persons looking to lose fat, gain muscle mass, or increase performance on the ice, platform, or stage:

1. Activates and increases muscle mass in the back of the legs and your whole back (or the posterior chain)

2. By activating more muscle mass, there is a subsequent increase in energy expenditure.

3. On top of that, it allows you to eat all your favorite flavors of ice cream… simultaneously.

Ben & Jerry's

On a more serious note, when coaching our athletes, along with coaching my private clientele in Philadelphia, I ask these questions to myself when watching them deadlift:

1. During the set up, what is the position of their feet, knees, and hips, along with their shoulder blade/chest positioning?

2. Can the person perform a posterior weight shift (backwards)?

3.. Is there a neutral spine?

4. During the pull, do they finish with their hips?

EC - Deadlift

However, keep in mind that my private clientele will present with not only different physical attributes, but also varying postural deviations than the hockey oriented athletes from Endeavor Sports Performance I see on a day to day basis.

–> Individual Cues for Different 

Athletes and Clients <–

With this in mind, some of my clients have noticed pain in their knees and hips just from walking. If this is the case, it is already a tricky game to begin with. In my head, hip hinging is a great priority with regards to appropriate movement, because the act of walking should involve a noticeable shifting of the bones of the leg (femur) into the hip socket (acetabulum). Replace the word “walking” with “deadlifting” in that last statement, and you can see why I prioritize the hip hinge (deadlifting) among other exercises in my clients’ programs.

If they can’t walk without pain, my first step would simply be to regress them (supine hip hinge, or a glute bridge), and make sure their glutes are activating, among other things. Although treating  pain is outside of my scope of practice, many walk in to train with some type of pain, and if no pain is present, often times they have some asymptomatic issue that warrants being aware of before deadlifting! In this case, I’d like to imagine a scenario in which facilitating appropriate glute function will help restore motion in their hips, often in the presence of little to no glute utilization.

When dealing with our hockey athletes, they may present similar issues for different reasons, such as skating everyday for 3 hours, for the past couple years. So besides being several decades younger than my private clientele, posturally they will often present with a lumbar extension, along with inadequate ability to get out of that “hip flexed” position.

As you can see, coaching can and will be different based on different populations… and that is just talking about a bilateral (two feet planted) deadlift!

With all of this under your belt, give this video a look-see by Eric Cressey, as he continues to prep for the release of his new product, High Performance Handbook.

–> Individual Cues for Different
Athletes and Clients <–

Keep it funky.


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