Head Position In The Conventional Deadlift
Where the head leads, the body will follow, and a simple head position change can dictate a lot of what goes on with the deadlift in particular. I have written a lot about head position in the sumo deadlift. In general, most people are going to want to bias to a more straight forward head position to create rigidity in the upper back and more uprightness, as the leverages of sumo require a more upright torso in comparison to conventional. But just like any lift, there is a general bell curve where it is optimal for people might be looking more down and some even more up. Within the conventional deadlift though, a slight downward gaze usually is going to be the norm. I liken it to looking at a spot on the floor about 10 feet in front of you as the average head position for a conventional deadlifter. And here (CLICK HERE) is a good example of what trying to look too high up on the conventional deadlift can do.
Factoring in the gravitational forces of the deadlift, it is going to be much easier to bias into end ranges of low back flexion than it is extension. This is a bit hard to describe within a caption, so see the final 2 slides for a video of me demonstrating what I mean. With Nicolas though, you can see on the left how when he tries to look more straight forward, it pulls his torso too upright, which in return lowers the hips and drives the knees and shins into the bar. We had been working to fix this issue with some other cueing, but finally what clicked is I told him to just look a bit more down. And you can see it was an almost instantaneous fix. By just managing his head position, we were able to reduce his desire for excessive uprightness, which then created a chain reaction to the hip, knee, and shin position, creating a much more efficient pull. Now before everyone just starts looking more down in the conventional deadlift though, note that the opposite could be true too. Maybe a lifter is looking so straight down that they are actually starting with their hips too high, and cueing a slightly more forward head position could be the fix. But in the situation of a conventional puller struggling with being too upright and having their hips too low, there is a good chance the fix is as simple as a head position change.