More weight on the bar means more growth hor­mone – and mus­cle. Warm up, go hard and go home safe

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

…on the right way to dead­lift safely, whether train­ing out­doors can burn more fat, the facts about su­per­greens, and the pros and cons of the Pa­leo diet

Lawrence Farn­combe is a strength coach with 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with ath­letes in a va­ri­ety of sports, in­clud­ing pow­er­lift­ing, boxing and triathlon.

The dead­lift is prob­a­bly the most func­tional ex­er­cise you can do. It uses nearly ev­ery ma­jor mus­cle group and most of the small, sta­bil­is­ing mus­cles, which in­creases lev­els of growth hor­mone and testos­terone to help you build strength and mus­cle mass. But like ev­ery big lift, it has risks if you don’t warm up prop­erly or you use in­cor­rect form. Th­ese range from pro­lapsed discs and nerve im­pinge­ment to rup­tured ten­dons. But don’t fret – fol­low­ing the steps be­low will en­sure you avoid the pit­falls.

Warm wel­come

Warm­ing up is cru­cial for avoid­ing in­jury, es­pe­cially for big com­pound lifts. For begin­ners, I’d first rec­om­mend lift­ing an empty bar and fo­cus­ing on form (see the box be­low). Then you can add weight with ev­ery sub­se­quent warm-up set, in­creas­ing it each time by 10-20% of the weight you in­tend to lift in your main work­out per set, un­til you reach around 80-90% of that. You should also per­form ex­tra reps dur­ing your early warm-up sets, then re­duce the amount in­cre­men­tally un­til you reach your main work­out rep range in your fi­nal warm-up set.

So if your main work­out is three sets of five reps with 100kg, warm up by per­form- ing eight reps with an Olympic bar (which weighs 20kg), fol­lowed by seven reps with 40kg, six reps with 60kg and five reps with 80kg, rest­ing for two min­utes be­tween sets. This means the heav­ier you lift, the longer it takes to warm up, but it’s worth the ef­fort to stay in­jury-free.

Flex ap­peal

A key el­e­ment of cor­rect dead­lift form is keep­ing your back flat with your spine in a neu­tral po­si­tion, but this can be tricky if you’re not flex­i­ble. Adding light Ro­ma­nian dead­lifts to your warm-up will help loosen your ham­strings, but if you’re still strug­gling with form, try el­e­vat­ing the bar in a low rack, be­cause this re­duces the pres­sure on your lower back. As your ham­string flex­i­bil­ity im­proves, you can grad­u­ally re­duce the el­e­va­tion.

Dead­lift­ing with a mixed grip (one hand in an over­hand grip and the other un­der­hand) al­lows you to lift more weight but in­creases spinal ro­ta­tion and makes it harder to main­tain a strong back po­si­tion. If you want to keep the lift as safe as pos­si­ble, stick to a regular grip. If you use a mixed grip, switch hands with ev­ery set to min­imise the risk of mus­cle im­bal­ances.

Per­haps the most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is to train to tech­ni­cal fail­ure rather than com­plete fail­ure. Stop as soon as your form slips, rather than try­ing to force out ex­tra reps. You’ll progress faster and stay health­ier. Lawrence Farn­combe is an am­bas­sador for Bio-Syn­ergy ( bio-syn­ For more info, visit strength­coach­farn­

Good form and a proper warm-up will not only make your dead­lift safer but also

lead to quicker progress

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