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Old 06-01-2009, 12:16 PM   #1
David Boyle
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Default Incorporating the hamstrings for deads

Been working on my dead-lift now for about 8 months.

I've bested at 435lbs x 1.

Recently (for the last 3 weeks) I've noticed a lot of pull on my lower back when I'm lifting. My lower back will be sore for a few days....nothing too painful just sore.

I've heard from coaches namely Rippletoe on CrossFit, that you need to activate the hamstrings when you pull.

My questions are:

1. Should you feel a lot of pull in the lower back, which I'm feeling?

2. How to activate your hamstrings when you pull?

"One must try everyday to expand one's limits."
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:11 PM   #2
Dave Van Skike
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there's a big question. wihtout a vid it's hard to know. a couplle random thoughts and I'm sure others will pile on.
  • bad pain in the back often means lyou're losing the arch, especially if it's mid back.
  • if you can locate a good vid showing RDL's i'd do that, RDL's really teach you to get a lot out of your hamstrings
  • push your ass further back at the start and squat into it, really load your posterior chain at the start, like your pulling a bowstring and your hips are the pick.
  • ass and shoulders come up at the same time.

  • your back should get taxed but not brutally so.
  • I think of arching the upper back, this takes care of the lower at the same time.
  • Do GHR's
  • Do touch and go DL. see if that helps.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:21 PM   #3
Patrick Donnelly
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Originally Posted by Dave Van Skike View Post
  • ass and shoulders come up at the same time.
That is important. The hips don't go up unless the bar goes with them.
And yes, I'm actually holding that handstand. Get on my level.
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:03 PM   #4
Kevin Perry
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+1 on GHR, you will develop excellent ham strength with this exercise and it will benefit your DL and Squat big time.
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:23 PM   #5
Alex Bond
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Driving your heels into the ground is a good cue I've found to help get the hamstrings involved.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:03 PM   #6
Jamie Crichton
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My understanding was that it was the glutes that failed to activate properly in deadlifts. If you're not using the hamstrings, that bar is not going to move, full stop.

Low back pain can often be a consequence of inhibited glutes. This is quite common, arising from postural changes due to the amount of sitting we do. The hip flexors become short and tight and to protect them, the nervous system limits activation of muscles that complete hip extension, ie the glutes.

The end result is deadlifts that are completed (locked-out) with a hyperextension of the lumbar spine, rather than complete hip extension. This will cause you back pain, for sure. When you deadlift, try to lock out by squeezing your glutes as hard as possible, like you're trying to crack a nut between your arse cheeks. Don't worry about leaning way back; this is such a common technique flaw that you see all the time, particularly in crossfit workouts with deadlifts in. This engaging of the glutes will finish the lockout whilst maintaining a neutral spine, which will protect you from back pain.

It may also be necessary to do remedial exercises to encourage firing of the glutes. Search on youtube for 'birdogs', 'bridges' and 'clams' - these are all useful drills. Another thing I found useful, is just trying to engage the glutes whilst standing throughout the day. Putting a hand on one to improve proprioception of the contracting muscle is helpful.

The better you can make use of these muscles, the easier you will find locking out deadlifts and, as a convenient side-effect, you'll put a lot less stress on your low back.

This isn't to say that strengthening the hamstrings isn't useful, because of course it is. But this is a common faulty movement pattern that can be easily sorted, but is often seen in back pain with deadlifting.
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