A Review Of The Deadlift & Accessory Lifts

Osteopath Heath Williams

The Deadlift is one of the 3 Powerlifting exercises.  The other two lifts incorporated in Powerlifting include the Squat and Bench Press which I have outlined previously in other posts.  Check out www.principlefourosteopathy.com for these 2 posts.

This week I was back at Elite Sports Performance with Todd & Martyn Girvan who took me through the Deadlift and accessory lifts such as Reverse Hyperextension, Back Extension and Good Morning exercises.

The Deadlift is a Compound Movement that involves training the entire body.  A strong core, shoulders, back and lower limb are required to perform the deadlift as the exercise involves lifting a barbell off the ground.


A Review Of The Conventional Deadlift

The conventional deadlift involves feet being approximately shoulder width apart.  The conventional deadlift will be more challenging for those individuals who perhaps lack mobility through their thoracic spine, back, pelvis and lower limbs as you are required to bend lift the weight through a greater range.  There are many different versions of how one can perform a deadlift, with many different strength and conditioning coaches having their own specific approach and cues.

Stance – Feet should be approximately shoulder width apart

Hips – Initiate movement through the hips.  That is, push the hips back.

Grip – You can adopt either a bilateral pronated grip (palms down) or an up (palm up) and over (palm down) grip.  Be sure to vary your up and over grip so to allow for symmetry of training.  One key thing that was pointed out to me yesterday by Elite Sports Performance S&C Coach & Owner Martyn Girvan in regards to the grip was to treat the hand like a hook.  Don’t grip the bar and squeeze as hard as you can as you will quickly fatigue your forearms and increase the risk of an overuse injury. The idea of treating the hand as a hook means that again, you won’t be needing to bend down as far to pick the bar up, also meaning that at the top point of the movement (the bar will perhaps travel an inch or two less compared to gripping the bar as hard as you can).

Back – Keep the spine neutral.  Failing to keep the spine neutral will mean that the lumbar spine may be flexed and therefore increase the risk of lower back injuries.  Whilst practicing the lifts, I also wore a weightlifting belt.

Core – Push the belly out whilst lifting to ensure a strong core.  You can really feel the abdominals and lower back muscles working hard to support the body when this is done.

Shoulders & Back – Keep the shoulder retracted and back tight throughout the lift

Neck – Keep the neck in the neutral position

The Lift – Depending on ones technique and approach to the lift, the closer you can keep the bar to you and your legs, the less the leverage effect of the bar.

Below is example video that I sourced from youtube in regards to a conventional deadlift.


A Review Of The Sumo Stance Deadlift

The sumo squat stance deadlift involves standing with feet wider apart, feet pointing outwards.  Personally I found this method easier due to the fact that it allowed for greater range of movement through my hips.  This stance type also means that you won’t be required to take the bar through as greater range of motion as the conventional deadlift.

Stance – Feet wide apart and feet pointing out.

Hips – Drive the movement through the hips.

Grip – Either pronated (palms down) or up and over grip.

Back – Keep the spine in neutral.

Core – Brace the core.  Push the belly out and hold this for the duration of the lift.

Shoulders & Back – Keep the shoulder retracted and the back tight

Lift – Try and drop back in the hips to take up the slack in the arms and body.  Try and keep the tibia vertical to the ground to ensure that the barbell can travel as close as possible to the shins whilst travelling up and down.  The further the bar sits in front of you and away from you, the more load this will place on the body.

What I found challenging in regards to this as a first time learner of this technique was to keep focused on all key areas.  Both Todd and Martyn were great in terms of providing cues to improve lifting technique and efficiency.

Below is an example of a sumo stance deadlift that I found on Youtube.



Below are some examples of the other accessory lifts that we practiced.  These videos were found on YouTube.  Typically these lifts can be performed after the main program to work on areas of specific weaknesses.  The exercises prescribed and performed will depend on whether or not there are any specific weaknesses in the lower body, hips and spine.  Mobility exercises are equally as important as a lack of mobility will mean that we are unlikely to get into the correct position and perform the exercise with good technique.


Reverse Hyperextensions





Good Mornings


Next week I am back again for another session.  So I will provide a further update on the key exercises learnt and practiced.


Osteopath Heath Williams is owner and director of Principle Four Osteopathy, one of Melbourne City CBD 3000 leading Osteopathic clinics.  At Principle Four Osteopathy, we have a special interest in neck and back pain, sports injuries, corrective exercises and rehabilitation.  The clinic is uniquely located within a boutique personal training studio that is equippeed with all the latest functional training gear as well as traditional training gear.

Principle Four Osteopathy is located at 29 Somerset Place, Melbourne City CBD 3000 (near the corner of Little Bourke & Elizabeth St).  Appointments can be made by calling 039670 9290 or booking online at www.principlefourosteopathy.com.

To read more about Principle Four Osteopathy, click here.

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