I’m going to just say it, so here it goes… The barbell deadlift is NOT for everyone, period. Due to a number of factors that play a roll in ones overall ability to execute this king of all hip hinges with requisite form and technique, most people simply fail to get any training effect from this movement while also staying safe and healthy in the process.
When you force feed any movement, especially one that that depends on proper hip hinge mechanics to spare brutal shear forces through the lumbar spine, you are NOT training the targeted muscle groups or movements any longer, you’re just stressing out the non-contractile tissues like the ligaments, joints, capsules, intervertebral discs etc. That list could go on and on. The last thing you are training is your musculature, so why the hell are you force feeding the movement in the first place?
Though the Trap Bar Deadlift is viewed as a regression off the barbell deadlift in the minds of many, I prefer it for many athletes and lifters due to the SHEAR fact that they can execute the lift with better form, better musculature targeting, and in a far better position to take unwanted stress off the spinal column. At the end of the day who really gives a shit what weight implement you are using as long as you are training and loading up a foundational movement pattern?
Are You Proficient Enough To Deadlift Safely?
The other great thing that happens when form is simplified is that lifters can focus on pushing their physical limits, whether it be max load or max effort, and not have to worry about form breakdown or paying the price with an injury that will derail their training and fitness for extended periods of time. If we can mitigate risk in a movement while receiving the same amount of benefit in terms of physical response to an exercise, that will lead to more notable short and long term results.
If you aren’t quite sure what that means, here’s a good way to assess how proficient you are at a given movement… Are you able to go balls to the wall near absolute muscular failure without form breakdown and putting yourself in vulnerable positions for injuries? Sure every movement will eventually breakdown, but the average person has no idea what true mechanical failure at 100% effort really feels like unless you are an Olympic level athlete who has touched this training pyramid a few times over the course of a career.
People rag on machine training all the time, but you know what? At least machine training can keep novice and inexperienced fitness fanatics from placing themselves into a position that will end up causing more damage than good. I’m not comparing the Trap Bar Deadlift to machine training, lets be clear on that. The key point is we need to find movements that allow us to train at a higher capacity and level of trainability without the repercussions of joint stress and injury.
Here’s How To Start Trap Bar Deadlifting
The first type of Trap Bar Deadlift that people should start with the ensure proper core position and hip hinge pattern is the dead stop deadlift. In this variation you take the weight off the floor and set it back down between each rep to reset your core and make damn sure that your spine remains in neutral alignment and your bracing is on point. Check out the video below:
If you feel comfortable enough to progress the Trap Bar Deadlift from the dead stop variation, we can start adding a bit more speed to the movement with a “touch and go” version that allows you to speed up the eccentric lowering portion of this lift and make contact with the ground and explode the weight back up.
It goes without saying that the same spinal and core alignment requisite is still a must here! And as you can see, this variation can be pushed to the limits in a safe and effective manor. Check out this variation as well:
About The Author
Dr. John Rusin is a sports performance specialist and injury prevention expert that has coached some of the world’s most elite athletes, barbell sport competitors, and over 50,000 clients from all walks of life with his innovative pain-free performance programs and systems, which has gained him the reputation as the go-to industry expert for rebuilding after pain, injuries or plateaus. Dr. Rusin is also the founder of the Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification (PPSC) that has certified over 2,500 personal trainers, strength coaches and rehab pros from across the globe in the pain-free performance training system over the past two years.