1 Cue To Fix Your Deadlift Tensioning

Some cues that have been very popular lately on the deadlift are “ribcage down” and to “open up the scapula” to create long arms. And while I get the notion, I’ve seen that lead too often to people being stuck in thoracic flexion. It’s more well known to not let the lower back round and pelvis tuck under, or else that leads the the lifter overly relying on lumbar extension to finish the lift. But the same thing happens when we over compensate with our thoracic setup on deadlift as well. As can be seen above in the video on the left (CLICK HERE), Lorenzo is setting his “ribcage down” and “opening up the scapula” as he tensions on his sumo deadlift. But he never recovers from this position, and even if he did, there was a lot of thoracic movement needed to regain that neutral position, which either has to occur as he pulls the hips in or at lockout. So I instead cued Lorenzo to keep a more neutral thoracic spine and to tension from his “upper traps through his arms”, as can be seen in the video on the right (CLICK HERE). Especially in the sumo deadlift, we are trying to maintain a fairly upright position, so the actual vertical force is more of the shoulders depressing and lengthening the upper traps to allow the “long arm” position. Based on your torso angle this vertical tension will change due to each individuals mechanics, but the key here is to set the tension in the area that is going to promote the most upright and neutral position possible. And like any cue, it’s not always meant to be literal, but rather a guiding force to get you into the right position. In reality, Lorenzo is tensioning more into his mid to upper traps. But cueing “upper traps through the arms” helped him to guide him into a better tensioned position. What this tends to fix as well is bar position. When Lorenzo was tensioning more in his mid back, notice how as he brought the hips down, that arms had to move back as well. Versus on the right, the arms never move, and stay in the same spot throughout. That is because before there was a slight horizontal tension being created as well. I’ve seen this at times cause the bar to roll forward, or give the lifter a false sense that the bar is in the right place when it is actually too far away from them. Rather, tensioning through the upper traps allowed Lorenzo to create a direct vertical pull on the bar without promoting any horizontal tension that created unneeded movement.  

Leave a Reply