The Deadlift: Recovery and accessory work
As Chris mentioned last week, the deadlift is without equal when it comes to comprehensive improvements in our overall fitness.
Compared to other lifts we do the deadlift is incredibly simplistic – but thoroughly comprehensive in engaging the major muscle groups. Did you know that the deadlift uses more muscle groups than any other lift? Specifically, the major muscle groups in the knees, hips and lower back.
This not only offers a metabolic benefit (calories burned), it also offers muscular-skeletal benefit as well. If you are strengthening major muscle groups which are commonly used in other lifts, your overall strength will increase, meaning all your lifts will reap the benefit from deadlifts.
Over the next few weeks we will continue to discuss the multiple benefits of the deadlift, both on the blog and in the gym.
Knowing that we are exerting a lot of energy and engaging many muscles when we deadlift, R&R (rest and recovery) is essential. We also can’t expect our bodies to deadlift everyday, which is why accessory work will be necessary.
How do we recover after HEAVY deadlifts?
When we are doing heavy lifting, our muscle fibers tear, so that they can repair themselves with stronger muscle fibers. However without proper nutrition, your body will not be able to adequately rebuild, which will leave you feeling sore and you will not see large improvements in lift. Proper nutrition is key during any lifting cycle.
You should eat lean protein and clean carbohydrates within an hour after lifting. If you know you won’t be home to eat, bring a protein shake and a banana for a post-workout snack.
In addition to proper nutrition, proper stretching, before and after a WOD is essential. Stretching increases oxygen and blood flow to the muscle groups being stretched, which will prepare these muscles for the work ahead. By increasing your range of motion and flexibility, you will also prevent injury.
Stretching after you lift will help prevent DOMS, which means your muscles will recover faster so that you can come back into the box ready to lift again. Soreness is the result of lactic acid buildup in the muscles. When we stretch, it helps the body move this lactic acid from the muscles into the blood-stream where they can be metabolized.
Lastly…REST. Deadlifts can be taxing on the Central Nervous System and the heavy lifts take time to recover. If you Deadlift heavy on a Monday and just feel wiped out then make sure you sleep well that night and, potentially, take a day off completely from physical activity on Tuesday.
What Muscles Should I be Stretching?
As previously mentioned, when deadlifting the major muscle groups you use are your knees, hips and lower back. activating the correct muscles will be important before deadlifting. Wake-up those hamstrings by performing good-mornings or bridges. Fire-up the glutes by doing clam-shells, bridges and squats, ensuring your glutes are being used rather than your quads. Doing lower back stretches, such as bounded ankles, standing straddles, butterfly, and cobra, will prevent back stiffness while deadlifting.
During this deadlift cycle, you will see a lot of deadlifts. However, there are other exercises that you can do that will help improve your deadlifts. Here are a few that you will see and that you can perform in the box or at home.
Bridges – Perform these with or without weight. These will build stronger glutes and strengthen your lower back.
GHD Situps – It is called a glute/hamstring developer for a reason. This will strengthen all the muscles you use while deadlifting and in addition give you a stronger, more stable core.
GHD Hip extensions – Again, this movement targets all those major muscle groups, which will help you when you go to deadlift.
KB Swings – This is an explosive movement, which will help strengthen your lower back, hips, glutes and hamstrings, and train them to be more explosive.
Farmers Carry – Grip strength is often forgotten in the deadlift, however it is extremely important. You can have the muscular strength in your hamstrings, hips, glutes and lower back, however if you lack grip strength, your deadlift will suffer the consequences.
Plank – building a stable core will prevent injury in the lower back.
Rows and strict pull-ups – Your lats are being used to hold that barbell and keep it tight against your body as you lift, so building up these accessory muscles is important.
When approached the wrong way a heavy lifting cycle can reap little benefit. We want to set you up for a successful deadlift; we want your lifts to improve!
Take time during the next several weeks to incorporate proper nutrition into your daily life, being mindful of WHEN you eat and what you are eating. Come into the box early to warmup those muscles and take time to do accessory work. This cycle should offer a positive outcome, however like most good things, it will require some work.