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As a college strength and conditioning coach and an Olympic weightlifter I did not utilize the traditional Deadlift with my athletes or my own training for the first 15 years of my career. My thinking was we were squatting for maximal strength so we should spend more of our time doing the Olympic lifts and other explosive exercises. We performed RDL's and other deadlift variations for the posterior chain but it wasn't until 2014 when I implemented it regularly in our training.

Mark Rippetoe and the starting strength method had a significant influence on me and lead to this programing shift. His systematic teaching method also influenced how I coach the deadlift to this day.

Here is a short 4 minute video on the starting strength deadlift set up.

I have used this method with collegiate athletes and athletes of aging. I coached a Deadlift Technique class this weekend at the Powershop gym here in Brookings SD using the following 5 steps.

Step 1 = Set Your Feet

Walk up to the bar; place your feet below your hips; toes rotated slightly out. When you look down at the bar you should not be able to see the knot in your shoelaces.

Step 2 = Set Your Hands

Grab the bar with a double overhand grip just outside your legs so your hands are on the knearling and your thumbs do not scrap your leg.

Step 3 = Set Your Hips

Without moving the bar, lower your hips only until your shins make contact with the bar. Do not allow your shins to force the bar forward.

Step 4 = Set Your Back

Squeeze the muscles of the lower and upper back, stick your chest out/up being Proud.

Step 5 = Big breath, big brace and drag the bar up your shins

Take a breath and hold it the entirety of the rep. Brace and take any slack out of the bar. Push the floor away and drag the bar up your leg maintaining contact. Lower the bar down by bending at the hips first until the bar is past the knee then bend the knees until the bar touches the floor.

Since adding the deadlift to my training regularly I had significantly less (almost none) back tweeks and flare ups from age 40-50 than I did from age 30-40. I am strong and so is my back. This has been my clients experience as well. My 83 year old father has struggled with back pain most of his life. When asked how he was doing "Feeling really good. I think the RDLs and dead lifts have been good for my back."

I utilized the 5 step approach in the technique camp this weekend. One of the participants had a previous back injury and credits squats, deadlifts and staying strong to keeping him healthy and limiting his pain.

I heard typical comments from passersby before the camp about seeing the chiropractor after. There is so much misunderstanding with the deadlift and strength training. The deadlift will strengthen the muscles of your hips and back and improve bone density. Everyone seems to assume you will put 400lbs on the bar the first day. The deadlift like all strength training is infinitely doseable and modifiable. I started my father and mother with a wooden dowel. With consistent regular training and slow titration the body adapts and gets stronger. Maintaining strength as we age is critical to maintaining independence and freedom. Being able to get out of a chair, walk faster with a longer stride and lift things off the ground will allow you to do the activities you enjoy. This is why I will deadlift for life.

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Great article my friend! Hope all is well

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Thank you my friend. Keep after your training, one step at a time and keep you father going. Small baby steps day after day will lead to a lot of progress. He can run the same program when he is done but add a little more weight starting out and progress up. He could add a third day of lifting as well. Keep up the great work.

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