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Cord-Loaded Dead Lifts: Tips for the Collegiate Strength Coach

By Dan Hutchison, MS, ATC, CSCS

The Dead Lift exercise is one of the most implemented weight lifting movements for improving strength and power.  The muscle groups of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings, commonly known as the ‘posterior chain’, have numerous effects on the majority of athletic movements and are deemed key training areas for injury prevention.  Detailing the specifics of each muscle function is beyond the scope of this article, but it is acknowledged that each are important and can prove detrimental (i.e., high injury risk, etc.) if not trained effectively and consistently in the routines of all competing athletes.  The Dead lift exercise does an amazing job at stimulating these muscle areas in one compound motion.  Also, the dead lift tends to be safer in comparison to other lower body lifts especially for younger (age and training age) athletes.  Proper instruction on technique execution is a must and certified strength and conditioning specialists should be consulted when introducing this movement.  Attention to technique should always be considered first before increasing the amount of weight lifted.

Variable resistance can be considered an application for the dead lift movement for enhancing the stimulation of the posterior chain.  Although not common until recently, the downfall of loading with variable resistance on the dead lift exercise has been securing the cords/bands to the platform area.  Along with safely securing, resistance cord reliability and consistency has also been difficult to determine with traditional circular band products.  The Trak-X™ System has provided a solution to this problem by providing a safe and secure anchoring system to properly load the dead lift.  Plus, a strategic dead lift cord design has allowed a valid and reliable approach to determining the load.  Variable resistance has been a very productive and popular addition to traditional movements because the cord/band characteristics match the changing mechanical and inertial variations in muscle movement patterns.  In other words, during the specified movement as the lifter progresses into the ‘easier’ portion of the exercise, typically full extension, the cords/bands provide additional resistance (along with the weight on the bar).  This additional load forces the lifter to increase the acceleration of the resistance, complete the lift through a full range of motion, and allows for the recruitment of additional muscle fibers (typically high threshold fibers) throughout the duration of the movement.

Current literature has suggested that a combined resistance approach of implementing both traditional weight lifting movements with variable resistance applications, can significantly enhance strength and power in comparison to just using traditional strength training practices.  The typical approach has been to integrate one to two strength training sessions with variable loading, throughout the course of a training week, with between 15% and 35% of the load consisting of cord/band resistance.  Because the overall weight is reduced, the aspects of velocity and acceleration are greatly improved which is very specific to athletic-type movements.  A true emphasis on force production is still necessary to complete the athletic development spectrum – force, speed, and power – thus traditional movements without cord-loaded resistance should still be implemented consistently as well.

In summary, variable loading for the dead lift exercise has proven to be highly effective in a structured strength and conditioning program, especially for enhancing the areas of strength and power.  Anchoring devices like the Trak-X™ System, along with specific cord designs to effectively determine loading quantities, have made it easier to implement this application on a consistent basis.  Variable loading provides an increase in acceleration and velocity of the chosen movement, as well as providing an enhanced stimulation to the muscles involved through a full range of motion.  The point of muscle mechanical advantage is stimulated further through cord-loaded applications forcing a full-range force application through the entire lift.  The posterior chain muscle groups, specifically targeted by the dead lift exercise, are important contributors to most athletic movements, and require adequate training to minimizing the chance of injury, as well as improve athletic performance.

Key Points:

  • A combined resistance approach of implementing both traditional weight lifting movements with variable resistance applications, can significantly enhance strength and power in comparison to just using traditional strength training practices.
  • Optimal cord-loaded resistance typically occurs between 15% and 35%.
  • Safe and secure anchoring along with specifically designed Dead lift cords, allow for reliable loading and consistent use.

 

References:

Galpin, A. J., Malyszek, K. K., Davis, K. A., Record, S. M., Brown, L. E., Coburn, J. W., … & Manolovitz, A. D. (2015). Acute effects of elastic bands on kinetic characteristics during the deadlift at moderate and heavy loads. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research29(12), 3271-3278.

Nijem, R. M., Coburn, J. W., Brown, L. E., Lynn, S. K., & Ciccone, A. B. (2016). Electromyographic and force plate analysis of the deadlift performed with and without chains. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research30(5), 1177-1182.

 

 

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