I’m not going to turn this into a post about how deadlifting gives you dat booty. We met our quota with those when the first one was published/posted/put on the internet. However, in 1992 Sir Mix A Lot, without conscious effort and through his lyrics, described the deadlift in one curt line.
“I’m long, I’m strong and I’m down to get the friction on.”
Mix A Lot wasn’t talking about deadlifting. He was describing the prowess of his manpendage and his affinity for grinding naughty bits, but he gave us a template for deadlift success with an adjective and two nouns—long, strong and friction.
Before you “double up, ugh ugh” and rip iron from the earth you have to get long—in the spine, not the pants. When it comes to the spine, long means neutral. Check it out:
Before you lock in to get strong; get long—and that means with a packed neck/tucked chin/don’t look at the fucking ceiling. If you pinch your spine by extending your neck then your spine is no longer long. Stay long, like anaconda long.
Strength is always the mean’s end of the deadlift, but for the purpose of description, at least at this moment, strength equates to pre-lift tension. It starts with the feet; twist them into the ground with solid external rotation. The tension chain continues with the breath; get it low in the belly and activate the inner-core. This sends the message that your spine is safe and you can activate higher threshold motor units.
Now, set your grip like you’re trying to rip a Grizzly bear’s throat out. It sounds graphic, but seriously, grab the bar that hard. It’s another message to your brain that your body is safe to generate a lot of force.
Finish by packing your neck. Tension in the cervical region is the final link in the chain that connects you to the high threshold monster you’re becoming.
If the words aren’t sinking in, I know some people are better suited as visual learners, check out the short video below.
As I mention in the intro, deadlifting goes a long way in molding a derriere. It will put a motor in the back of your Honda, but it doesn’t do wonders for the shins. That is if you’re doing it right. That’s where friction comes in.
Pulling appreciable weight requires good leverage—and to maintain that good leverage one must keep the weight close to the body. Put simply—drag the damn bar up your legs.
From start to lockout the bar should never leave the legs. Two simple cues keep the bar in a great path—push the floor and pull the bar into your body.
After creating strength through tension at the set-up, driving the floor away pops the weight off of the floor, but this is where most ladies and gents get into trouble; they let the bar drift away from them. But since we’re down to get the friction on, we are going to keep strong lat tension and pull the bar into our body. The bar will stay in a good path, you’ll pull more weight and your shins will bleed. Don’t worry, chicks dig scars. (Well, at least the chicks worth hanging out with do).
Who knew that Sir Mix A Lot was a lifting coach? Me.
P.S. Insert obligatory phrase about deadlifting/crushing plates and eating steaks/using motor oil to brush your teeth. Rock. (1906)