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Corrective Exercise and the Deadlift (Is the deadlift right for me?)

Jun 27, 2018

For this week’s blog we reached out to Fitness Together Reading Owner and Personal Trainer, Tom Lavoie. Tom has been a personal trainer for over 18 years and a Fitness Together Owner for 10 years. He has earned certifications through the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (ATC), as well as the National Strength and Conditioning Academy (CSCS). He is also Functional Movement Systems (FMS) and SFMA certified.

Tom shared a little with us about how he got involved in the health and fitness industry. While working in sports medicine Tom found himself unhealthy and out of shape. “I was about 260 lbs so while going through my exercise science classes I felt I needed to look and be more of a role model that fit the field I was in.” He was working as an athletic trainer and lost almost 70 lbs. “I have found my experiences in both of these fields to be crucial in my development and in helping others.”

We connected with Tom for this week’s blog and asked him to show us a “corrective exercise” – specifically how to do a deadlift the right way. Often when you hear the words, “corrective exercise” the person is discussing the use of BOSU balls, stability balls, and other balance-training tools. The reality is corrective exercise is the focus on correct movement and correct form. When you can isolate a movement or focus on correct form, you will get more benefit from that exercise and less risk of injury.

We wanted to know what the correct form is for a deadlift. Often you see people with bent backs, knees in a position looking more like a squat and many other improper forms. Tom started out with how he approaches this move with his clients:

Usually our first requirement for safety is to make sure that someone can touch their toes without bending their knees. If they cannot touch their toes, a more corrective strategy is applied along with modifying the exercise is made. If there is pain with the movement we usually avoid that movement. We have a zero-tolerance policy on pain.”

Assuming a client can touch their toes and does not have pain, we typically start off with a kettle bell deadlift. If they cannot maintain a proper position, we will place the kettlebell on a raised block. We then typically progress to using two kettlebells and then to either a hex bar or a straight bar. For our clients, we will usually stay with the hex bar as this will build a great amount of strength with much less risk than the barbell.”

“The deadlift is a pulling motion that is a hip dominant exercise. It focuses on the posterior chain. You use a large number of both upper body and lower body muscles in the deadlift, so you get a lot of bang for your buck as far as energy expenditure. I think of it as a total body movement. When done properly the deadlift works the lower back, glutes and abdominal region (better known as the core) and can be crucial in developing overall strength. I also really like the deadlift because of how functional it is. Our clients tend to be nervous at first about deadlifting, but the reality is they are already picking up their kids, other heavy objects around the house and shoveling snow in the winter.

Much like any exercise the deadlift is usually programmed in according to the client’s goals and specific strengths/weaknesses.

“Deadlifts should be programmed in for 1 or 2 times a week, but it also really depends on the goal. Sometimes we will go heavier with a client on one day and then a bit lighter working on form and velocity of the movement to work on the skill of deadlifting. You want the weight to be heavy enough to challenge the person but not break proper form.”

Tom wrapped up our conversation by reminding us that like any workout a proper warm up should be done before going into deadlifting. He mentioned that long bouts of cardio will limit the amount of weight you are able to lift with this exercise. So be mindful of your cardio! We all have weaknesses or muscular imperfections that could benefit from corrective exercise. Whether we are having issues with our posture, weak core muscles, or just wanting to avoid injury. Working with a personal trainer who can spot our weaknesses and correct our form is important. If you want to connect with Tom and his Fitness Together Reading team you can keep up with them on their website and Facebook. We hope you enjoyed this interview with Tom!

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