This page is an edited article I wrote on behalf of the Living magazines group...
Having been asked by the Editor to write advising the best exercises to perform – an ‘Exercise of the Month’ as it were - there’s no better place to start than one of the Editor's favoured exercises (& mine), the all-encompassing Dumbbell Deadlift. Overlooked unfairly as being “advanced” by leisure trainers and often performed incorrectly by weight trainers, I’ll set out to explain why (when performed correctly) it’s an exercise of benefit to male and female trainers of all ages whom do not have any prior contraindications, providing key steps and tips to getting it right.
This Neolithic lift is a function we perform multiple times on a daily basis and often get it wrong, resulting in back injury & fatigue. Practicing this style of lift in an exercise setting with competent tuition is a fantastic way to learn control, perfect technique and create a good-lifting habit to continue in our day-to-day activity, greatly reducing chances of injury through poor lifting. Moreover, by increasing strength of the required primary muscles – lower back, thighs, buttocks – and stabilizing muscles – abs, shoulders – will further prevent the risk of injury, even if picking something up incorrectly (which, if you perfect the skill through practice, you shouldn’t do anyway!).
I have preferred to show the Dumbbell Deadlift, rather than the more familiar Barbell Deadlift, as this exercise is generally easier to teach and perfect (Notably, performing the lift as one movement and keeping your back straight throughout the lift).
Here are the key steps to follow: 1) Select a dumbbell weight that allows you to perform your target workload in a safe & controlled manner. Face a mirror – you should be able to see yourself throughout the lift.
2) Stand with your heels hip-width apart (toes pointed forward or slightly turned out, whichever is more comfortable).
3) Assume the start-position with an orthodox-grip of the dumbbells in line with your shoulders and get a “feel” for the weight.
4) Bend your elbows ever-so-slightly (your arms should be stiff, not straight) and take the strain onto your arms.
5) Inhale, and then exhale as you lift the dumbbells and drive upwards in one motion until you are upright (chest out & shoulders back, not arched!).
6) Lower the dumbbells in the same sensible fashion with controlled manner. Do not crash the weight – your desired workload should allow you to perform multiple repetitions without the weight touching the floor. Your final repetition should be as controlled as your first!
Some important do's and don'ts : Performing multiple repetitions, do not wear a support belt for this exercise. It is an exercise to strengthen the muscles outlined, which includes your core (abs & lower back). Whilst wearing a support may help you to increase weight placed upon the dumbbells, you are decreasing the requirement of the supportive structure you are attempting to strengthen by performing such a lift.
Please do not confuse, keeping your back straight with keeping your back vertical. A straight back simply means not arched. By performing Dumbbell Deadlifts as one smooth movement, keeping your head up, bottom down, and your eyes forward, you should keep a straight back.
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