Deadlift Progression in Absence of a Movement Screen
Not having access to be screened before training is not always a bad thing.
The Functional Movement Screen can change sometimes from day to day based on what you did the day before, how you slept and a myriad of other variables. Some days you have to be the coach and deal with the “right now” and not be the therapist and deal with the “what happened in the past”.
You want to lift. Medium, light, heavy, doesn’t matter. You want to pick things up off the ground, put them back, and do it again. It’s purposeful, it’s primitive, like the title of a good book on lifting, The Purposeful Primitive by Marty Gallagher. It’s also satisfying (to some).
The issue is what I ask of every client right after greeting them: “how are you feeling today?”, which is always a loaded question I trained my clients to answer based on how they feel physically, how they moved days prior, and also a measure of their mental state. Sometimes I refocus them doing mindless work, sometimes I can engage them with high skill, high CNS-frying tasks. The outcome is that they always come out better.
But we still need a baseline.
Gray Cook said in his article on Revisiting Athletic Body in Balance that “straight bar lifts, as well as lot of the fitness equipment in use today, can mask a 60-40 participation between the left and right sides of the body. It’s very obvious on the bench press or the squat that these torques, twists, turns and bad form are really us trying to muscle one side because we’re substandard or inefficient on the other side.
The best way to get the twist out of your squat is to first make sure both legs have symmetrical mobility, symmetrical stability and then symmetrical strength—in that order, not in that reverse order that most people attempt.
In the key functional exercises, we have a left and right side appraisal built in. That’s how Tim Ferriss and I started the ball rolling when he pressed me to give him the go-to exercises since I didn’t have a screen to work off.”
We begin our exploration with a basic deadlift, but not with a bar or heavy load. You are reading this off the ProBar blog/web site, so don’t be surprised if we use the ProBar to make a point 🙂
First off, the deadlift is a hinge at the hips, pushing backwards against an imaginary wall, maintaining a straight spine and flat back. The knees bend as an afterthought. You can work on straightening them for a greater stretch. The use of the ProBar in the video is geared at maintaining that upper body posture. It is part of that “done for you” activation and dials that part in. “Tension strength”, as Pavel Tsatsouline teaches. The upper body and lower body need to be linked during the movement (“linking strength vs leaking strength” also as Pavel would say).
Because we recognized the potential for left/right asymmetry along with the need to symmetrically mobilize and stabilize, as well as strengthen, the single-leg deadlift (SLDL) with the ProBar takes that to the next level. Because we might be asymmetrical, we work unilaterally, one side then the other, in order to achieve that symmetry. The single leg work corrects the dysfunctional movement pattern by addressing the left/right asymmetry, but requires a lot of tension-strength to maintain balance, stabilizing the movement.
The tension strength, systemically throughout the body from the inner spring continues to maintain that alignment. Not a believer? Go poke the person doing the drill in the “Dear Abbies” and feel the steel push back against you ;)~
In the video below, we begin with the Single Leg Deadlift and progress it to add a staggered/split stance, then single-leg stance Chop/Lift and then a combination of both (plus an extra twist you’ll have to watch in the 60s video!)
You can do this move without weights, with weights, aiming to touch your toes. Do it with minimalist shoes or barefoot for that maximal feedback from the ground/feet contact. Tons of magical stuff going on here.
Couple it with the Chops & Lifts 1/2 kneeling move and you have yourself a solid base to correct many dysfunction in your body while still getting a great workout!