The Deadlift Debate...

For those of you who recently participated in our Saturday Benchmark ("CrossFit Total" was this weekends benchmark of choice)  there was some discussion over the Deadlift portion of the workout and whether it was acceptable to simply drop the bar from the top, locked out position...IT IS NOT. 

As John Zimmer states in his article for the CrossFit Journal 'The Forgotten Part of the Deadlift' :

"The lift doesn't stop when the bar is at the top... 

If you’ve ever picked up anything from the floor, you’ve deadlifted. And after you pick something up, chances are you’ll need to put it down. Returning the bar to the floor often is the forgotten part of the deadlift.

CrossFit prides itself on its training methods having athletic transferability, and learning how to properly set down a heavy weight has far more practical application than dropping it from the waist.

Expending the energy to control the descent of the bar to the floor may not only save time, but it may also save energy. Our muscles have more eccentric strength than they do concentric strength. They can bear a load about 10-40 percent greater when contracting while being lengthened (the eccentric phase) than they can when contracting while being shortened (the concentric phase). Expending a small amount of energy to control the descent of the bar to the floor might yield a greater return in terms of the advantages gained by the stretch-shortening cycle and from elasticity of the plates in contact with the floor from the touch-and-go method during high reps. However, the lifter should not use the arms, shoulders or hip flexors to accelerate the bar to the floor in an attempt to bounce the bar off the ground.

The stretch reflex can be an advantage at the end of a controlled descent. The hip extensors and the hamstrings are being stretched as the bar reaches the floor. That can be used as a pre-stretch to then contract the hip extensors and hamstrings as the lifter takes advantage of the touchand-go of the bar from the floor. This should be a controlled descent to the floor with anticipation of the floor and the beginning of the next rep. The quicker the transition from the eccentric phase to the concentric phase, the more energy is available for the concentric contraction. This is true for high-rep deadlifts, for the dip and drive beginning a push-press or jerk, or in a countermovement arm swing before a max-height jump. "

ALSO, please note Number 7 of the International Powerlifting Federation rules below.

 "Causes for Disqualification of a Deadlift.

1. Any downward movement of the bar before it reaches the final position.

2. Failure to stand erect with the shoulders back.

3. Failure to lock the knees straight at the completion of the lift.

4. Supporting the bar on the thighs during the performance of the lift. If the bar edges up the thigh but is not supported this is not reason for disqualification. The lifter should benefit in all decisions of doubt made by the referee.

5. Stepping backward or forward or moving the feet laterally. Rocking the feet between the ball and heel 

is permitted. Foot movement after the command “Down” will not be cause for failure.

6. Lowering the bar before receiving the Chief Referee’s signal.

7. Allowing the bar to return to the platform without maintaining control with both hands, i.e.: releasing the bar from the palms of the hand. 

8. Failure to comply with any of the items outlined under Rules of Performance."



Now, I understand we are not all necessarily competing in powerlifting meets every weekend but the point here is to understand the standards of a movement (in this case, the deadlift) and to practice using those standards. Performing any movement properly will help not only with safety but also efficiency and training. Just as the saying goes "You play like you practice...practice sloppy and you'll play sloppy".

Hope this helps to answer any lingering questions...We will have copies of the full article by Zimmer available for you at the gym!!!!