Thursday, June 11, 2020


As we did previously about the squat, in this article we will delve into one of the fundamental exercises in muscle development and strength in general: the deadlift.

Premise: This article is also not intended to explain how to carry out this critical exercise! If you want to learn how to do it or control your performance, I suggest you trust a good personal trainer/trainer.




Let's start by answering this question: the answer is NO, simply because we are talking about an exercise that is not only complex from a coordinating point of view, but also by other factors that affect the difficulty of performing this exercise, such as flexibility and joint mobility, the presence or absence of problems with the spine or back muscles, etc.

If we pay attention to the "minimum requirements" to carry out this exercise, we can analyze what will be the most appropriate execution modality for our physical conformation and our objectives.




Classic question. Often, the average user is more likely to divide their program by muscle groups, which will be affected once or several times a week (depending on the type of training); hence the need to understand where to insert the deadlift or, rather, with which muscle groups.

Well, we can say that the landslide is one of those exercises (if not "the exercise") that allows us to lift very important loads. This is because the deadlift is a multi-joint exercise; in fact, they are involved in the many joints, such as the coxofemoral (hip), ankle, knee, and, in part, also the glenohumeral (humerus and scapula).

Joint excursions are allowed by the use of numerous muscle masses (large and small). To mention a few: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, erector spine, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, abdominal muscles. And also gastrocnemius and sometimes the thigh adductors; not to mention the forearm muscles.

Returning to the question, we can now deduce that the answer is simply banal: the deadlift goes with everything! But this does not mean that there are no different percentages of internal load related to the affected muscles!

Internal load refers to the pounds of weight lifted (relative to total weight) relative to a specific muscle.

Banalizing the concept: at 100 kg, if 60 kg is loaded to muscle X, it means that all the other muscles involved in that exercise are dividing the remaining 40 kg.

Therefore, the internal load about muscle X will be 60% of the absolute load (i.e. the total load lifted, our 100 kg).



Given a good enough execution technique (which never stops improving), even in the case of deadlifts, we can establish how body proportions influence muscle mass differently.

In the deadlift, the parameters that influence the success of the execution, as well as the muscular participation, are approximately 3: length of the lower extremities, length of the upper extremities, length of the bust.

Since only one of the parameters varies about the others, the type of execution varies and the internal load on the muscles is divided.

On average, the athlete most "suitable" for conventional detachment needs to involve the erector spinal muscles as little as possible and use the legs more, and to do this the spine must be as parallel to the ground as possible.

The back will tend to be less parallel to the ground if the athlete's arms and shoulders are of such length and mobility as to allow the athlete to reach the bar in advance.

But not only that: also the length of the lower extremities should allow the pelvis not to move too far from the balance line.

If these were relatively long, the greater distance between the pelvis and balance will also cause the shoulders to drop, which will increase the degree of work of the erectors of the spine ( lumbar square, very long back, iliocostal, etc.) for the consequent flexion of the trunk.

For this reason, the legs should also be of adequate length to keep the position of the spine as vertical as possible.

In all cases, except this one (in which, on the other hand, muscle recruitment is almost fair and there are no significant differences between muscle groups), the internal loads will be distributed differently.

In the case of a subject with the same characteristics, but with a greater length of the lower extremities (my case), the elevation will not only be more complex but will present differences in biomechanical terms, such as a back stretched forward, with the shoulders. Closer to the bar and beyond its line. In this case, the lever arm will be larger and the load that will fall on the spinal erector muscles will be as mentioned above. Lumbar lordosis will be more difficult to maintain high workload rates. It will be necessary to have excellent strength in the lumbar muscles to preserve technique and posture, and also avoid the risk of accidents. The gluteal muscles will undergo a discreet lengthening, which together with the ischiocrural muscles (the flexors of the leg in the thigh) will have the task of erecting the bust and extending the hip. The work of the femoral quadriceps will be less, however, it will be involved and will allow the leg to be extended in the push phase.

When analyzing the case of a subject with short femurs, the tendency would be to "squat down" more, as if doing a squat, to do the deadlift, since the pelvis will be closer to the bar. In this case, the quadriceps and trapezius muscles will undergo a discrete internal load
In the case of subjects with relatively short arms or relatively long bust compared to arms and legs, the shoulders will still have to fall forward and the trunk will have to flex, to allow the hand to reach the bar. Also in this case we will hit the hamstrings, which will suffer a strong lengthening and the buttocks. To ensure the stability of the spine (which will be almost parallel to the ground) and allow lifting, but above all, the support of the bar, in this case, the muscles of the trunk most involved will be the great dorsal (in fact, the shoulder will be more extended, to get to hold the bar), the adductors of the scapulae(that is, the major and minor rhomboid, the lower trapezium ) and the major round.



Several solutions allow the athlete to improve their execution and performance or, if our goal is specific hypertrophy, let's try to redistribute the internal load to our liking and hit the muscles that interest us.


 Generally, performing the sumo deadlift allows a subject with relatively long legs or relatively short arms to bring the pelvis closer to the bar; therefore, the spine will be more inclined and more vertical than the ground, reducing the work of the erector spinal muscles and giving more load to the muscles of the lower extremities, especially the glutes, which will be more elongated due to the initial position with the femur widely abducted; also the trapezius (middle and upper) will be particularly stressed.

Even the quadriceps will be more stretched and involved compared to the conventional deadlift the knee will be more flexed in the initial phase. Studies also show that the dead weight most, the lateral is muscle vast more involved.

According to EMG studies, the tibialis anterior is also more involved than in conventional detachment.

Sumo deadlift generally lends itself well to subjects with long legs or long busts, making it difficult to keep the spine stable and upright.


There are of course infinite variations of sumo deadlift when it comes to foot spacing - we also talk about an extra-wide ('wide') sumo deadlift when the toes almost touch the discs and where the lines of the pimples are incidents concerning the ground.

I recommend this variant to subjects with fairly short arms or with a relatively short bust compared to the lower extremities.

It is also suitable for all those people whose objective is to increase the work on the buttocks, given the strong abduction of the humerus, or the strengthening of the adductor component of the thigh (large, small, and medium adductor).


Another option: the narrow stance sumo, that is, a sumo deadweight contrary to the extra-wide, in which the distance between the feet will be reduced to a minimum while keeping the arms between the legs.

The knee flexion angle at the beginning will be a maximum of 90 ° or sometimes less, a suitable angle to extend the tibia extensors well, i.e. the quadriceps, which will take up most of the work, together with the buttocks, which are also pre-stretched.

In my opinion, this variant is more suitable as a "supplement" to work on other types of deadlifts or to increase hypertrophic work on the quadriceps and glutes, especially in subjects with fairly long femurs.

Nothing prevents you from using this type of stance, even for performance purposes.


Another variation is to increase the distance between the legs, with the heels slightly beyond the shoulder line, clearly keeping the arms at the sides of the legs (we are always talking about conventional deadlift).

I think that this variant is suitable for those who have a good lever as lower limbs and who aim more at performance than hypertrophy or strength gain of the erector muscles of the spine and extensor humerus.

In this way, it will be like "simulating" an extreme deadlift, where the pelvis will be closer to the balance line and this, as we have already said, will allow the back to be less stretched forward and less subject to loads and stresses in the lumbar area. Also, so better we will exploit the trapezius and the muscles of the lower extremities while keeping the work in the erector thorns


One should not underestimate the variant of the conventional deadlift deficit or deadlift deficit, in which we start with a height below the feet, to simulate longer lower extremities.

In this way, it will accentuate more application of the musculature of the spinal erectors, glutes (and quadriceps if it is sumo style), and of the hamstrings for the lower extremities, great dorsal, lower trapezius, rhomboids and deltoids in the posterior bundles.

I would recommend this modality for those who want to improve performance in the conventional deadlift.

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