It's been a long time since I've felt compelled to write something on deadlifting. Not because I haven't been deadlifting because I have!
And not because I haven't been writing because I've also been doing that.
I guess I just haven't felt like I've had anything useful to add to the pile of fantastic articles written all about deadlifts and deadlifting.
However in the last two months I've begun using a deadlift variation that has given me some really great results in terms of increasing my deadlift and adding size to upper and lower body.
It's nothing ground-breaking.
In fact you have probably seen the exercise before or even used it previously.
It's a banded deadlift and it looks like this.
Why though I feel the need to talk with you about this exercise is because I think it offers two advantages that will although your numbers on the conventional deadlift to soar.
1. Accommodating resistance
In any given exercise there is a strength curve created by the change in force required to move the weight being lifted based on the angle of the joint doing the lifting. This curves creates a phenomenon where the weight being lifted feels like it becomes lighter and heavier as it moves through the range of motion of the lift.
It's probably best illustrated by the bicep curl as just about anyone who has ever stepped in a weight room or gym as the shared experience of performing one.
If you remember during the curl the weight is initially easy to lift, but as it ascends to approximately 90 degrees of elbow flexion the weight seems to fight back and becomes much heavier. You then hit a sticking point when 90 degrees of elbow flexion is reached. However if you can push through the sticking point the weight begins to get lighter and lighter as you reach terminal elbow flexion.
This change in the feeling of heaviness of the weight is the result of the strength curve.
This curve impacts the amount of muscle fiber recruitment that is experienced during the lift and it results in us developing lots of strength in the middle ranges of motion because that is when the weight in most exercises is the heaviest the muscles doing the lifting have to work the hardest. However the muscle misses out on developing strength and size in the ranges of motion closer to the ends of a joints range of motion.
This is where accommodating resistance comes in and it allows us to level the playing field for developing strength and size throughout our muscles range of motion by leveling out the strength curve some by increasing the force required to move the weight being lifted in ranges of motion when the force required to move the weight would being dropping off without accommodating resistance.
In the case of the banded deadlift the accommodating resistance is provided by the band.
Missed deadlifts are often missed on the way up some where between middle of the shin and middle of the thigh because that is when the weight is at it's heaviest due to the joint angle created by the hips. That we really only have to work hard to lift the full amount of weight in the deadlift in this range of motion. The initial few inches off the floor and the last few inches before lockout are when the weight beings to feel light again and we don't have to recruit as many muscle fibers to move the weight.
But incorporating a band into the resistance means that as the lift progressives the load becomes heavier and heavier as the tension in the band increases. This is the load is the heaviest at the top of the lift and we have to continue to recruit muscle fibers to move the weight all the way through the lockout.
All this is to say the band improves our conventional deadlift by making us work harder throughout the entire range of motion developing greater strength and more muscle.
2. Accelerating through the lift
In order to move a particular amount of weight we have to generate a certain amount of force to overcome the inertia of that weight and we have to generate enough force to continue to move that weight over the distance we want to. The amount of force we are able to generate is based on how quickly we move the weight and how much the weight weighs. This means that we can increase force production through two ways increasing the amount of load moved or how quickly we move the load.
While increasing the amount of weight we can deadlift is always cause for celebration we all know from experience that we just can't keep adding weight to the deadlift every time however we can continue to focus on always moving the weight we lift as fast as possible. If we can improve the acceleration of the lift we can move more weight because we can generate a larger amount of force.
The best lifts to improve the speed at which you can lift something are lifts that allow for maximal acceleration throughout the entire lift's range of motion. Lifts that fit this description would be things like a power clean or snatch.
The deadlift doesn't exactly fit this description because as you ascend in the deadlift you must begin to decelerate the bar as you reach lockout to maintain proper tension and control over the weight to complete the rep and sit the weight back down under control.
But if you place a band on the bar you never have to worry about decelerating because it is required that you continue to accelerate through the entire lift to overcome the increasing tension of the band. In essence the band takes care of the deceleration of the bar and all you have to do is worry about pulling the weight up as quickly as you can.
There are probably a number of other reasons why other people like the banded variation of the deadlift, but for me I think these two benefits are what makes it a worth exercise of building up your conventional pull.
It will make you stronger through the entire range of motion and will help you develop a quicker more explosive pull from the floor to lockout.
I'd highly recommend beginning to incorporate them into your programming for continued deadlifting domination.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training