Form is an aspect of the billion dollar fitness industry where personal trainers spend their careers publishing movies, videos, and literature on the proper way to execute athletic movements. If you type in “how to deadlift” on any search engine it will return over a million matches. DISCLAIMER: I am not saying form doesn’t matter and I highly advise you do your research before executing any compound movement. However, I am highlighting that there is no absolute way to complete any movement and these cookie cutter steps are not doing you any favors.
Therefore, I wrote this short blog to clear up my stance on some of the information being released to the public.
1. KEEP YOUR FEET FLAT ON THE FLOOR.
For the love of thor, keep your feet flat on the floor. I can’t say it enough. There are so many videos that utilize movements of the feet in conjunction with heavy compound movements to better “Feel the Burn”. If you are squatting than rolling to your tippie toes or deadlifting and pulling your toes towards the ceiling, the only thing you are going to feel is pain. Just like a building, your body is heavily reliant upon its foundation (the feet). It is where balance starts. Therefore, movements in the feet will be compensated by larger muscles that try keep you from falling over. This compensation is directly related to injury. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
2. Use your back that’s what it’s there for.
This is probably the most controversial statement I will make in this article and I will stand by it. Society has ingrained it into us that back injuries are the worst thing that can happen. Therefore, we have been trained to do movements improperly to over protect our backs. Your back is a joint just like any other. There needs to be movement in this joint to strengthen the stabilizing muscles that surround the spine. I am not advocating deadlifting with a curve in your spine so you resemble a question mark. I am saying the deadlift is a back workout and therefore the back should be used in its entirety. Not utilizing your back will weaken it, culminating in a common imbalance that manifests itself as SI joint dysfunction and hip tilt.
3. If you can’t do it its probably you… not the weight.
The main thing that every fitness book or specialist will say when you are having trouble harnessing proper form is ,”just lighten the weight and try it again.” This pisses me off because it is a true disservice to everybody. If you are having issues completing a movement it is often not the weight, it's you. In my experience, I will say that 99% of the time that a person is struggling with form it's due to a lack of flexibility. The best way to overcome this is to utilize other tools to supplement the compound movement itself to inspire flexibility and full range of motion within the inhibited joint. If you lighten and try it again, you will spend the rest of your life lifting no weight and still having poor form.
4. If it hurts its wrong.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is….If it hurts...it’s wrong. When your mom told you that you are one in a million, she wasn’t lying. Your anatomical structure is unique. Therefore, just because there is a standard way to “squat” doesn’t mean your body is going to necessarily respond or react to the movement the same way as the spandex clad woman in the video. Proper form is going to require repetition after repetition to develop the stabilization and muscular coordination to effectively complete the movement. Do not attempt to push through pain simply because you have been advised this is the proper way to do it.
5. Just Do it.
Last but not least, there are points in time where you just have to do it. I am speaking about the highest level of competition with that phrase. Once you are an experienced lifter, you will have to use sound judgement on when to push yourself. There is a point in time in competition when the body is fatigued and the only thing that stands between you and victory is a modest 600 pounds. At this point in time, leave it all out there and lift like you have never lifted before! Do not make a habit of this and this should be solely reserved for the most experienced lifters in a competition setting. Finally, if you have never lifted that much you will never understand so do not comment on “form” in this instance.