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ModernMOBILITY | Deadlift


All I need is one bar… that, and a solid floor, and you’re ready to deadlift.


“It’s time for the animal to WAKE!”


The only thing holding back that “animal” is getting the posterior chain in motion.  Then you’re ready to pull some SOLID weight.   Once you’ve warmed up, it’s going to be very important to get everything from the knees up and moving smooth.


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  • One thing that separates a good pull from a bad pull is engagement of the glute and the mobility to do so.
  • Tight quads, tense hammies and weak backs can really demolish your foundation to a good deadlift, meaning precious PR weight.
  • To get those heels screwed into the floor and glutes firing properly, performing a very simple weight squat sit can help alleviate tension without taxing the system or over stretching.


USPlabs ModernMobility with Rob Saeva Goblet Squat


A Kettlebell Goblet Squat is a great way to do just that.  Sit with weight and unstick what is possibly stuck in your posterior chain and quad.


  • First, grab a moderately weighted kettlebell. This does not have to be heavy, but provide a decent counter balance while allowing the thoracic spine to remain neutral in your squat.
  • Take your weight and grab it by the “bell” end (this can be subbed with a dumbbell using the same concept), handle-side down like you’re presenting a goblet of mead to Oden in Valhalla.
  • The only way to present Oden a goblet properly is in a deep and comfortable seated squat position, so get low!

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“Remember, depth does not mean a rounded spine…”


Keep your torso neutral and your depth controlled to accomplish this. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat for 3-5 sets until warm but not at all fatigued.


There is, however; one jerk of a muscle group that does not unglue as easily during a squat hold… that is the Glute Medius and Minimus. The Glute Medius and Minimus control hip stability and engagement throughout the deadlift’s Range of Motion.


“This muscle group is notorious for being a problem child due to our society’s tendency to sit throughout the majority of the day.”


With limited involvement, lack of the glute medius and minimus means later activation of the glute through ROM resulting in a hip fault through the deadlift (resembling a stiff leg deadlift when performed).


To complete effectively, you are going to need a trigger point object such as a lacrosse ball, soft ball or tennis ball.


USPlabs ModernMobility with Rob Saeva


Start with the softest option first and work your way to a harder object as trigger point work can cause trauma to tissues when done excessively and aggressively.


  • Lying on your side, take your object and place in behind your hip bone on the side of your glute (you’ll notice when you squeeze your butt, a divot along the side of your glute… in there).
  • Let this sit until you feel the tissues around the area release. Once you feel the sinking in of the trigger point object, it will get even more fun…
  • Begin to perform 10-20 extensions of the leg raising the knee up towards the chest, and kicking back like a glute kick back with the trigger point object still in place.
  • Lastly, even though we may be activating everything and its mother when performing the deadlift, it is just as important to work the spine and hip chain in an isolated means.


I am sure I would be preaching to the choir when stating the spine isn’t made of cold hard steel, and I really hope those of you reading this don’t believe it is.


“Coming from various small to semi-major back injuries, I know first-hand how important it is to keep your spine strong. One great way to do just that is to isolate the posterior chain using a point of leverage.”


Seeing as most gyms do not have one of the famous reverse hyper machines, a bench and possibly some ankle weights can get the job done.


“Hug a Twinky” spinal extensions are a great way to build the low-spine and glute region. No, we are not hugging yellow pastry. It’s an old-style gymnast term for hugging the pommel horse and using it as a point of leverage.


  • First lay on a solid bench… I would recommend either an anchored bench or placing a counter weight on the opposite end.
  • Your hips/legs should be hanging off the back of the bench (this can be progressive given difficulty).
  • Bear hug the bench, clenching it tight against your chest/torso. At this point you should be stable enough to pull your legs up straight and lift at the hip.


Consider this the opposite of a laying leg raise, extending the spine, posteriorly rotating the hips and keeping the legs straight. This can be held for time or done for reps. Start very slow and once they become second nature, begin adding work or weight to the movement.


With a solid foundation, a deadlift can be a monster movement for any style lifter benefiting strength athletes, endurance athletes or physique competitors. Safety is key and sometimes form just isn’t enough with some lifts. Keep in mind, movements are only as strong as their movers… If there is a weakness in the chain, eventually it will show and cause problems. Stay smart my friends, and keep killing it!



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