T Nation

Deadlifts and Glutes/Hamstrings

Whenever I do deadlifts, I can never really feel my hamstrings or glutes working. When I Try to really push my glutes/hams forward I end up hurting my lower back. Even the next day, I never get sore from deadlifts. I know I’m doing them with enough intensity. Should I keep doing them without feeling it anyway?

O and also just to save from making anew post, what are some good stretches for my ankles? I find they are the limiting factor in my squat because my lower back always rounds over but I can stretch my hamstrings and touch the floor from standing up but whenever i squat down my ankles turn very duck-footed. thanks

Make sure to get in plenty of hip mobility work before deadlifting. Practice with the bar at first to get your technique right. Keep your feet firmly planted and push your knees out during the entire movement.

As for ankle mobility (and really all mobility), check out this article:

http://www.T-Nation.com/article/performance_training/the_essential_8_mobility_drills&cr=

Well, one thing to consider is that not every exercise works the same for every person. Some people don’t feel deads in their glutes/hammies, some feel it there very much so. You might just be someone who deads aren’t a good glute/hamstring exercise choice for.

As for ankle flexibility/mobility, the article that Doug posted is a good one. I could show you some others, but I’d suggest trying the drills in the article first, and if you still have trouble ask and I’ll do my best to describe them to you.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
You might just be someone who deads aren’t a good glute/hamstring exercise choice for.
[/quote]

I’m not sure that I believe this. I agree that some people don’t feel pulls in their glutes. Which would indicate dysfunctional motor control of the posterior chain. The prescription for which is more pulling, but done with special care for technique.

These days, most people spend most of their time sitting, causing the glutes to be stretched and weakened. This forces other muscles in the posterior chain (e.g., the hamstrings and lower back) to work extra hard, which can cause overuse injuries.

You need to strengthen your glutes. The best way to do this is ATG squats and deadlifts, but you must focus on feeling your glutes during the movement. In order to accomplish this, you need to reintroduce motor control by doing activation work beforehand. Floor bridges are an excellent choice. Remember to push through your heels, not your toes, and squeeze your glutes hard. Curl your toes up at first if you have to, but don’t make a permanent habit of it.

Oh, and you should drop the weight on both movements and practice form.

Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson wrote a good article on this a while back.


best thing you can do for real advice is ask an experienced person to critique your technique, or just post a vid and get tons of feedback. T-Nation is fucking great.

If you are using deadlifts for glute/hams then I’d recommend using “stiff-legged” deads. I believe some call them “romanian” deadlifts although I could be wrong. I agree with sentoguy on the fact that you may be physiologically unable to get a good workout in that area of your body with deads. Everybody is physiologically different and different exercises have different effects on some people.

Those ankle drills looke like they should be fine. I never played soccer but the coach at the college I attend recommends writing the ABC’s with your toes. lol Idk how it will work but it’s worth a shot.

Gerdy

Stiff-legged deadlifts are just that, Romanian DL are the safer, better, soft knee and bar close to body version.

Joe :wink:

[quote]colin1168 wrote:
Whenever I do deadlifts, I can never really feel my hamstrings or glutes working. When I Try to really push my glutes/hams forward I end up hurting my lower back. Even the next day, I never get sore from deadlifts. I know I’m doing them with enough intensity. Should I keep doing them without feeling it anyway?

O and also just to save from making anew post, what are some good stretches for my ankles? I find they are the limiting factor in my squat because my lower back always rounds over but I can stretch my hamstrings and touch the floor from standing up but whenever i squat down my ankles turn very duck-footed. thanks[/quote]

There are a couple of things to do that i use to achieve a good, close stance, deep squat. (BTW… in-flexible ankles are not the only reason, unless mistaken - it is a posterior chain thing [achillies too] and i know you have eliminated the hammies but all the tendons and ligaments in the chain need to be lengthened)
I am sure there are better ways to achieve the deep squat you want, but the ways i know of are as follows…

Start with your squat with a wide stance, just wide enough to allow you to squat “comfortably” ass to the grass… you should have no problem, if you do, its not an ankle dorsi-flex/achillies stretch problem. Then over time, bring the stance in… very slowly… use it is a progression. Centimetre by centimetre and keep pushing that squat as far down. this should help ROM.
OR Use plates under your heels… it is not as bad as some say, unless you have cruciate problems, in which case what are you doing deep squats for?!!
It is also possible to slowly, progressively reduce the thickness of the plates over time till you are squatting all nice and deep with just your feet on the grass…

I am sure if anyone can improve on this, they will and are welcome to!

Joe

[quote]tom8658 wrote:
Sentoguy wrote:
You might just be someone who deads aren’t a good glute/hamstring exercise choice for.

I’m not sure that I believe this. I agree that some people don’t feel pulls in their glutes. Which would indicate dysfunctional motor control of the posterior chain. The prescription for which is more pulling, but done with special care for technique.

These days, most people spend most of their time sitting, causing the glutes to be stretched and weakened. This forces other muscles in the posterior chain (e.g., the hamstrings and lower back) to work extra hard, which can cause overuse injuries.

You need to strengthen your glutes. The best way to do this is ATG squats and deadlifts, but you must focus on feeling your glutes during the movement. In order to accomplish this, you need to reintroduce motor control by doing activation work beforehand. Floor bridges are an excellent choice. Remember to push through your heels, not your toes, and squeeze your glutes hard. Curl your toes up at first if you have to, but don’t make a permanent habit of it.

Oh, and you should drop the weight on both movements and practice form.

Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson wrote a good article on this a while back.



[/quote]

I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Yes, you can learn better neuromuscular control of a muscle group in a lift. But, in most cases, that’s going to involve a huge decrease in training weights (and you’ll most likely never be able to pull as much as you could if you were to just focus on maximal weight).

I’m not telling him to avoid conventional deadlifts, far from it. But, to suggest that everyone is going to respond optimally to every exercise just isn’t true. I have a friend who is quite versed in deadlifts and doesn’t feel them in his glutes/hammies. I on the other hand feel them tremendously in my glutes/hammies. Our forms are pretty much identical. I just tend to be a hip dominant puller where as he is a back dominant puller.

What I’m suggesting is that he finds exercises where he does feel in his glutes/hammies and use those. If he can’t find any exercises where he feels his glutes/hammies working, then yes I agree that he needs to work on activation first.

some of my personal experience,…

probably the best thing i’ve done for my own workouts in the last year or two, is adding activation work before anything heavy (and start off as as light as you have to to “Feel” what you want to feel, and as heavy as you can go to do that)…but proper activation stuff every single workout with the rest of your warm up and then focussing on building up your weaknesses after the big lifts is doing awsome things to my training currently…

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Yes, you can learn better neuromuscular control of a muscle group in a lift. But, in most cases, that’s going to involve a huge decrease in training weights (and you’ll most likely never be able to pull as much as you could if you were to just focus on maximal weight).
[/quote]

If someone is in dysfunction, though, training weights will go up immensely once they bring the glute max into play, it has the largest cross-sectional area of any muscle in the body, and therefore the most strength potential.

The reason that I think the OP needs activation work is because when he tries to use the glutes and hamstrings to lock out, he ends up hurting his back, indicating a faulty recruitment pattern. Even if one could lift more weight this way without hurting himself, no judge would accept the lift without a true lockout.

I couldn’t say for certain that this is true without seeing him pull, of course, but it is indicated by the information he’s given.

I’m not questioning you, I’m just curious: how does the weight compare?

Can he feel them if he tries, but mostly feels the exercise in his back? I can absolutely agree with that. It’s just hard for me to believe that some people can’t feel the glutes preforming their primary function and still have a functional posterior chain.

[quote]
What I’m suggesting is that he finds exercises where he does feel in his glutes/hammies and use those. If he can’t find any exercises where he feels his glutes/hammies working, then yes I agree that he needs to work on activation first.[/quote]

I agree totally, but why look for weighted exercises when a simple floor bridge will diagnose the problem? If he can’t squeeze his glutes without recruiting his hammies or low back, or if they cramp up and he starts to feel them after a few reps, then it’s clearly a faulty recruitment pattern, and learning to use his glutes will bring his deadlift and probably his squat up as he learns to activate more motor units in the glutes. If he is functional, a few reps at bodyweight certainly aren’t going to hurt anything.