Time is limited in the weight room. We’re often limited to 1 – 3 sessions per week with our athletes at about one hour per session. It is vitally important that we are very economical with this time in terms of exercise selection and prescription. We want to utilize exercises that will have the biggest effect on strength as possible. Though the squat tends to receive the most glory and attention, the deadlift should not be overlooked. The deadlift generally allows the most amount of weight to be lifted compared to any other lift; a potent stimulator of size and strength. Furthermore, it stresses various muscles throughout the entire body, particularly those of the posterior, largely responsible for propulsion during athletic movements. When coached effectively, the deadlift can have direct transfer to running and jumping skills.
In a recent study by Thompson et al. (2014) published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the effects of deadlift training on vertical jump performance and isometric rate of torque development at the knee extensors and flexors were investigated. A total of 54 untrained college aged men and women were recruited for this study and split into a control group (no training) and a deadlift training group. The performance values were tested before and after a 10 week training program involving two deadlift training sessions per week (Mon and Thurs or Tues and Fri). Each session consisted of 5 sets of 5 repetitions. Weight was progressively increased each session provided the subjects were able to maintain proper form. Deadlift technique was strictly maintained. This involved feet shoulder width apart and pointing straight ahead, vertical tibia’s, a neutral cervical spine alignment and a rigid torso maintaining lumber extension throughout the full range of motion. No bouncing of the weight or wrist straps were permitted. The results are displayed in the table below.
|Performance||% Change (Control)||% Change (Deadlift)|
|Peak Torque (Flexors)||-3||21.3|
|Peak Torque (Extensors)||-2.9||25|
Deadlift training increased vertical jump and peak torque at the lower extremity significantly in both groups. This occurred in the absence of any power training as deadlifting cadence was enforced where 2 seconds for both the concentric and eccentric portions of the lift with pauses at the top and bottom were required. A limitation of this study was that untrained subjects were used for the training intervention. However, these results are still quite meaningful for novices and athletes with a lower training age. To derive the benefits of the deadlift, correct technique must be constantly reinforced and monitored. Many coaches remove the deadlift from their programming simply due to the risk involved with lower back injuries. Other coaches prefer the trapbar deadlift over the conventional deadlift since it enables a more natural lower position. Athletes with mobility issues should be given drills to enhance this specific range of motion while taller athletes may benefit from having the barbell elevated a few inches. Consider including the deadlift in your programming for direct transfer to athletic performance.
Thompson, B. J., Stock, M. S., Shields, J. E., Luera, M. J., Munayer, I. K., Mota, J. A., … & Olinghouse, K. D. (2014). Barbell deadlift training increases the rate of torque development and vertical jump performance in novices. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.