The deadlift not a hip hinge?

About a month ago I was deadlifting with a buddy of mine out in rural Wisconsin.  We both have 4 kids and he used to be a strongman and powerlifter.

He suggested that my torso was overly bent over the bar (i.e. not upright) so that I was using my back to lift the bar instead of my legs.  My knees tended to lock out before my hips.

I was confused.  Isn’t the deadlift a hip hinge?

His cue was to keep my torso more upright and bend my knees a little more.  So I started playing with it and did in fact notice that my legs were more active in achieving lift off and that the lifts were more explosive.

So is the deadlift a hinge or not?

[For new readers I am not a competitive powerlifter, just interested in techniques that allow safer and stronger lifting for using the barbell to get stronger and leaner].

I had always put hinge movements in one “box” and squats in the other “container.”  The deadlift was a hinge, and the squat, a squat.  For teaching and learning kettlebells this may work but the barbell plays by different rules and apparently it is important not to confuse the two.

Deadlifting a 35 pound kettlebell in order to dial in hip mechanics for your swing is a little different than lifting 3 times your bodyweight in unforgiving iron that will literally tear your back off if you aren’t smart about it.

For most kettlebellers who dabbled in the barbell deadlift, it was easy to confuse the two and set up your barbell deadlift just like you would the kb deadlift and swing way.

If you are in the same confused boat, this will help.

Yesterday I read this article that finally provided a clear teaching on this matter from an authority.

Here’s the article – it’s a recap of Marty Gallagher’s Purposeful Primitive workshop written by Senior RKC Mike Krivka who comes from the same kettlebell-first barbell-second background that I and probably you do.  Marty coached two of the greatest powerlifting legends in history: Ed Coan and Kirk Kirkowski.  So if he teaches the lift a certain way then best grab a pencil.

Here is the cash money line for our purposes:

“One of the most impressive ideas was a different approach to the execution of the deadlift.   As an RKC, I was taught that the deadlift is primarily a hinge movement.  But Marty and the teaching cadre at the PPS showed us that the deadlift is more of a squat with a hinge completion.  This is highly evident if you look at how these strong men set up their deadlift compared to an RKC style deadlift.  The primary difference is that the angle of the shin and torso are nearly parallel or lined up to each other.  Both are very tall and upright, then the deadlift is initiated by a forceful explosion of the legs which drives the ground away and pulls the bar to the knees where the move is finally completed with a hinge of the hips.  While this concept is not all that different, the execution of it is startlingly effective and will allow you to lift a lot more weight.”

There it is.  Deadlift this way and you will be amazed.  Better leverage, more explosiveness, and way more confidence.  And your butt will be sore because you use a lot more glute this way.  And who doesn’t like having a sore butt?  I mean seriously.

And now you have a clear teaching to conceive of it and describe it to others.

The deadlift is a squat with a hinge completion.  It is both – a hybrid.

Thank you Marty and Mike for putting this out there I think it will help a lot of lifters.


PS If you are interested in a powerful set of back exercises for the deadlift that have been proven to reduce soreness and increase effectiveness – check out Posterior Chain Linked.

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