Kinetic Chain Deadlifts
By now many of us have have attacked 18.4 and as per usual the Open has exposed a weakness we should aim to improve: heavy deadlifting. For many many of us, the deadlift was our first exposure to a lower body compound movement. When you think about it, its such a simple movement. You pick something up to waist level and put it back down. Despite its perceived simplicity it is a pillar in any encompassing strength program. Depending on who you ask, one might even argue it is just as important as the squat. Unfortunately because of its perceived simplicity, it often gets overlooked when it comes to how people prepare for it in workouts. When people see deadlifts in a workout they think, “Okay, I’ll do some warm up reps with some lighter weight for a few sets and that will be enough to prepare me for deadlifts…….” WRONG! We need to give the deadlift a similar amount of respect that we give to the squat, the clean, and the snatch in terms of preparing for the proper execution of the movement. Obviously the previously listed movements require more emphasis on technique (not to say the deadlift is not technical), but we still need to properly prepare our bodies to optimize our deadlift performance.
Enter in the Kinetic Chain deadlift. This is a concept I have seen a good amount of people discuss and provide information on, but my favorite example is the one that Max Shank uses (I have written about him before here.) The concept of the Kinetic Chain deadlift is to teach the body how to properly brace for the deadlift by utilizing the lats and core to create necessary stability. Creating the necessary stability lessens the chances of injury and increases the amount of weight that can be lifted. Proper stability in the deadlift is a concept that a lot of people struggle with because it is more of an intermediate to advanced concept.But if you plan on lifting high repetition or heavier in the deadlift, it is a very necessary concept to understand.
How many times have you done deadlifts and after you feel like your lower back is in shambles? Sure this may happen time to time if you’re really pushing the threshold in terms of weight or intensity (I’m talkin bout you 18.4), but it should NOT be happening EVERY time you do a deadlift workout. If you’re one of those people that always feels sore in their low back after deadlifts, then you probably are not bracing properly through your core and lats. Utilizing the lats and core effectively is imperative to executing a proper deadlift, which will provide more stability to your spine allowing you to lift more! Executing the Kinetic Chain deadlift is fairly simple once you have it down and you need very minimal equipment. Doing this before a deadlift workout will allow you to feel what its like to brace through your midline and lats. Trust me, after getting the hang of proper bracing patterns for the deadlift, you will feel like you have just gone through a 30 minute ab session just from deadlifting! I try to utilize the Kinetic Chain deadlift whenever I perform deadlifts or a lot of hinging movements, so I can avoid blowing out my lower back and feel like I just performed a 400 pound Jefferson Curl 😉.
Deadlifts are conceptually one of the more simple lifts out there, but do not let that simplicity lull you into thinking that you cannot improve on it! As with a lot of the compound movements we want to make sure that we are taking the necessary steps to set ourselves up for success. Performing a couple sets of kinetic chain deadlifts in between, or before your warm up deadlift sets, can reduce your risk of injury in the deadlift and increase your strength. Getting the Kinetic Chain deadlift down can be tricky so if you need help please ask a coach for assistance!