Training & Conditioning is pleased to bring you the first edition of our Digital Guide to Strength and Conditioning! Containing seven specific exercises to use in training your athletes, the guide features text and a video (below) showing each being performed. Here, we look at three cues that are, perhaps, a bit unusual but can quickly clean up deadlift form. They are “pull the sternum to the back wall,” “squeeze oranges under the armpits,” and “grab the floor with the toes.” Each one fixes common flaws that we’ll briefly describe.
“Pulling the sternum to the back wall” helps athletes learn to pull their chest up and it synchronizes the hips and shoulders during the ascent. Many athletes will pop their hips up first and essentially turn the deadlift into a stiff-legged deadlift. Cuing athletes to pull their chest or sternum to the back wall cleans this up effectively.
“Squeezing oranges under armpits” works like a charm to teach an athlete to keep a tight upper back. Athletes will, unwittingly, deadlift with their lats loose or round their thoracic spines. The orange cue gives them a graphic image of how to tighten up their lats while using language that is easily understood - particularly for athletes who don’t have great body awareness.
“Grab the floor with the toes” forces the athletes’ to tighten up their feet, thus providing a strong, stable platform from which they can produce more force without any power leaks. Many athletes are flat-footed or over-pronate at the ankle, which will produce a loose base (the foot) as well as force the tibia and femur into internal rotation, leaving the glutes at a mechanical disadvantage. By tightening up the foot, the entire leg remains in a more neutral position and the glutes can work more effectively. Gripping the floor also lights up the posterior chain, the muscles from the heel all the way up the back, and allows for stronger contractions.
Try out these cues with your athletes and watch the magic happen!
To view more exercises, click on the complete interactive guide below: