A few weeks ago I introduced you to the first of the 6 primary movements we perform as human beings, the squat. I hope that you were able to get some valuable information from that article. I also hope that you have incorporated one or more of the recommended squat exercises into your workout program. In this writing I want to explore another primary movement and that is bending.
Bending is a simple hinge at the hips that brings your upper torso forward and downward. We perform this movement pattern every time we go to pick something up off the ground. In my house, there is lots of this going on with picking up and after our grandchildren. Though it sounds simple, this movement is one of the most dangerous ones for adults. As we age, more and more of us are experiencing low back problems and injuries. There are many reasons why these low back problems and injuries occur. One sure fire way is by incorrectly lifting something from the ground. Do me a favor and find a mirror that you can stand in front of so that you can see yourself from the knees up. Now turn sideways and pretend you are going to pick a box up off the floor. When you get to the bottom of the movement, where you can reach the box, turn your head so you can see yourself in the mirror. What does your back look like? If it is rounded, you are placing the load of the lift on your low back. To properly lift an object off the floor, you start with hinging at the hips, bending at the knees to lower yourself down while maintaining a neutral and not rounded back. You need to disperse that boxes load over the hips, the legs and glutes. Take a look at this incorrect and correct movement pattern to lift the box off the floor:
A favorite exercise of mine, to help my clients get stronger in this movement pattern, is the deadlift. This movement is like the squat in that it utilizes most of your lower body muscle groups. The deadlift however, places more of the targeted workload on the glutes and the hamstrings which power the straightening of your hips. There are many other muscles involved with this movement which is another great reason that it is a part of many of our exercise routines. Again like the squat, we can perform this movement with different variations by using different exercise tools. In my center we utilize barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and cable machines as well. In the deadlift, the load starts from the floor and moves up as you engage legs, glutes and hamstrings to straighten the hips. Here are samples of deadlifts using a barbell, dumbbells and a kettlebell:
Side view of a kettlebell deadlift showing a great neutral back position throughout the lift.
Just as was shown a few weeks ago in the article about squats, there are many ways to safely perform the deadlift exercise. If you are currently exercising and do not have this movement as part of your training protocol, please get it added. If you need some help in learning the proper execution of the deadlift, seek out a certified fitness professional where you work out. If you do not belong to a gym you can contact Poston’s Fitness training center and setup a meeting with one of our many certified expert trainers. As always, I wish you great health and safe exercise. Bob