T Nation

Bad Days, Engaging Glutes/Abs on Deads

So training is going well. Numbers are slowly going up on the 5/3/1 plan.

My questions are: I was attempting deadlifts today and felt really low on energy even though I got a normal 8 hours sleep and regular breakfast before heading out. What do you do when you are having a bad/off day?

Second question is: I have noticed that with deadlifts that I have trouble engaging my glutes and lower abs (which is probably why my lower back and hamstrings are sore from working harder). On which of the 4 days of training would be best to add more ab work and glute work? or is it better to do it on an off day?

[quote]vancouvernewbie wrote:
So training is going well. Numbers are slowly going up on the 5/3/1 plan.

My questions are: I was attempting deadlifts today and felt really low on energy even though I got a normal 8 hours sleep and regular breakfast before heading out. What do you do when you are having a bad/off day?

Second question is: I have noticed that with deadlifts that I have trouble engaging my glutes and lower abs (which is probably why my lower back and hamstrings are sore from working harder). On which of the 4 days of training would be best to add more ab work and glute work? or is it better to do it on an off day?[/quote]

Why not learn to engage your glutes first before assuming its a weakness if your goal is to improve the deadlift??

You could add an extra day using lighter weights with emphasis on technique.

Doing some hip stretches and glute bridges during my rest periods between deadlift sets helped me learn to use my glutes more while pulling. Take that for what it’s worth.

I imagine your set-up is what is causing the issue, rather than muscle weaknesses. Can you get a video of your deadlift?

more glute activation in your warm up

Did you try foamrolling before your workout? U can use a tennis ball or a lacross ball to activate your muscles before the workout. It really helped me. First start with a tennis ball. Just rolll on it. U will feel the difference.

@dt79 - sure that would be the long term fix, any thoughts on what I could do to help that?
@TrevorLPT - that sounds like something I will be adding, I do that with squats, not sure why I don’t do it with deads
@T3hPwnisher - what angle should the video be? side view? I will try to get someone to video me next deadlift day.
@Yogi - yes I think I missed that last workout, so I will make sure to do more next time
@lebal - no, usually the night before hand. I work out in the morning before work and that would be waking up earlier. I will do that next time since what everyone seems to be saying is foamroll / stretch before and during will help a bunch.

Thanks for the help guys!

@T3hPwnisher - video link is at http://youtu.be/wuvxDEMib3k

(not sure how to make it appear in the forum box). Also I just got a random person to video me so it isn’t that good lighting quality, sorry for that.

I did work on stretching my hip flexors between sets and flexing my butt more this previous week in deadlifts and felt much more solid each rep. I also did some foamrolling & glute warm up before any lifting and it helped as well.

I’m currently only doing ab wheel and leg raises for ab work. Is it worth it to add more ab work in my routine?

Thanks again.

It looks like your primary issue is that you are trying to deadlift by standing up with a weight in your hands. You should be hinging at your hips to move the weight and shooting your hips forward to complete the rep. Right now, finishing the rep is all based on lower back. It also appears that you aren’t locking out.

This appears to be far more a technique issue than a strength issue.

I’ve posted this video a bit, but see if it helps you.

Definitely a technique issue that all the stretching and activation work in the world isn’t going to solve. Look into what it means to load your hamstrings before pulling and learn how to hip hinge (Dan John has written about hip hinging quite a bit and has several drills that he recommends.) Also make sure that your are locking out every rep by squeezing your glutes HARD and pushing your hips into the bar. Right now you’re not locking out and are finishing the lift with an exaggerated arch in your low back. Its a dangerous position for your back and bad position if you want your glutes to do anything.

@T3hPwnisher - Your video was actually well done. It gave me a few pointers on grip width when compared to leg stance. You also mentioned a slight roll of the bar to drive the legs better. It sounds like something I should be doing. How close to the bar are your shins when you break from the ground?

@TrevorLPT - I read a few articles since I read your post. You were spot on, the poor lockout and hip hinge was/could be the source of a sore back and overall poor technique. I have been doing hip hinge stuff at home (back against a rod, pushing my butt to the wall etc.) to correct my form though.

You are both right though. My lockout / technique is poor. Even today I had to really focus on pushing my hips into the bar and flexing everything to be stable when at the top position. I am currently doing 5/3/1, should I go back a cycle to work on technique? and should I throw in some extra glute bridge work to focus on the hip hinge?

Thanks for your help!

[quote]vancouvernewbie wrote:
@T3hPwnisher - Your video was actually well done. It gave me a few pointers on grip width when compared to leg stance. You also mentioned a slight roll of the bar to drive the legs better. It sounds like something I should be doing. How close to the bar are your shins when you break from the ground?
[/quote]

My shins are typically in contact with the bar, if not just barely out of contact. It’s a very close position. I have a video of my deadlifts about 2 months ago for comparison.

Is it getting better?
This was 285x2. I wasn’t sure if I should do something lower for more reps or higher weight and less reps for a form check.

Does it feel better? That’s really what matters here.

I personally wouldn’t squat down to the bar, as you are doing. I find it’s easier to engage the mechanism by bending over, grabbing the bar, and then swinging your hips under your shoulders at the start of the lift to get the bar rolling backwards and the weight on your heels.