Deadlifts and shrugs

I’m a delurking newbie with a question.

In addition to being a newbie, I’m a recent “deadlift convert” - you guys talk about deadlifts so much that I decided that I should give 'em a try (that’s not exactly true, but… :slight_smile: ), and the rest is history: even after only a month or two of doing them, I can see a difference in my upper back, and I can definitely -feel- a difference in my workouts. Thanks guys!

Of course, it being a new movement for me, I’ve been a little paranoid about maintaining good form, which leads me to my question.

I was doing deadlifts yesterday at my local YMCA and one of the staff came over and tried to correct my form, but (and I’m very, very likely in error here) I’m not sure he was right.

What he wanted me to do was to shrug my shoulders at the top of the lift. I’m not talking about a little flexing, but an actual, honest-to-goodness shrug. He seemed to believe that this was necessary for completing the deadlift movement, but in all of the research that I’ve done, and even at looking at some of the more respectable lifters in the gym, I’ve never seen anyone (except this staff member, and the guys that he was “correcting” in previous weeks) ever do the shrug thing.

What I want to know is whether I’ve completely misunderstood what a deadlift is, and, perhaps more importantly, are there downsides to following the staff member’s directions (ie, increased risk of injury, focusing too much on the traps at the expense of everything else, etc)? I’d really appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this. Thanks in advance.

No you do not need to do a shrug at the top of a deadlift in order to “complete” the lift. You can if you want to though. The guy at your Y for some reason just likes to combine those two lifts. I prefer to do these two exercises by themselves.

Without a shrug, deadlifts will still work your traps hard as I’m sure you’ve discovered. Hey, at least the guy didn’t tell you not to do them because you would hurt your back, which is an improvement over many gym employees. :slight_smile:

Yeah, other than the shrug thing, I like this guy…he takes an interest in the people who use the free weight gym, but he definitely isn’t overbearing or rude or anything. In fact, being so relatively new (working out for about 18 months, using free weights for only about 6, and keeping a food log for only about 2), I’m totally appreciative of any advice/help I can get.

You don’t have to shrug to complete a proper deadlift. Maybe you could add a shrug movement if you were trying to add some extra stress on your traps, but that’s up to you.

It’s like saying you have to do a wrist curl at the top of every rep of a bicep curl. Umm no you don’t.

If this tool continues to bug you, tell him you don’t want to get too big so you’re going to leave the shrug part out…

There should be a ban on unsolicited advice.

If you want to shrug at the end of the deadlift go ahead. It won’t hurt you. When you start getting up to heavy poundages (315 +) you likely won’t be able to pull off the shrug anyway. But if you can, it can only help.

I’d mix it in occasionally but like dylan said, when you’re hitting 315+ I dont see you hitting shrugs at the end of the dl. I love dl’s

No. You don’t shrug at the end of a deadlift. That’s retarded and that guy was incorrect. When you begin to lift heavier in the dead, a shrug would be wasted effort.

And why? When some kumbnuck like this guy comes up to me with some hackneyed “you should do this instead”, I ALWAYS ask “why?” Just to see if this person can provide me with some type of reasonable explanation. More than likely, no.

Let’s say this: when I begin moving into the 85% arena of my 1RM, the last thing I want to do is “shrug”. Especially when the weight is 280+ lbs.

If you want to work on shrugs, then perform shrugs.

doing the shrug at the top of the deadlift movement is an option that you can do depending on what you want out of your deadlift. if you’re using a comfortable but tough weight of your max deadlift (say about 70%) then doing the shrug is probably a good idea as you are not completely fatiguing your hams/glutes/lower back while keeping them under tension longer than a traditional deadlift. you also get more bang for your buck in that you knock off two movements in one. if you are nearing your max deadlift (80-100%) i would forego the shrug and focus more on keeping with form and really drawing the weight up and back. if you ever get a chance take a look at “strength training anatomy” by Frederic Delavier and in his drawing of a deadlift he indicates that the traps and upper back are activated to stabilize the shoulders as you lift and hold the weight.

one variation of the deadlift called the romanian deadlift may be what the gym guy is referring to. this requires an explosive deadlift from a hanging position that incorporates the deadlift, a shrug, and a calve raise all in one movement. i think Don Alessi wrote an explanation of the movement in a past article. take a look into it - now you’re also working your calves and getting three movements into one.

Big D: romanian deadlift? RDL’s are a form of stiff leg deadlifts.

What you could be talking about is a form of high pulls. When you deadlift, IMO, deadlift. If you want to shrug, shrug. If you want to high pull, then high pull.

Patricia and Big D - You’re both right!

A “pure” RDL is like Patricia said - a variation (and a better one, IMO) on the stiff-legged DL.

Now, some Olympic lifters like to do what Big D described - add a toe raise and shrug and the end of the RDL. However, this is a combination move - a “pure” RDL does not require the toe raise + shrug at the end of the lift. Also, if you want to do this move, it’s not really meant to be explosive.

The third animal is what Patricia mentioned - the high pull. This one IS explosive.

The moral of the story is all three variations are good. It just depends on your goals. If you are working in the higher percentages then don’t shrug. In my LA training I’ve grown fond of a deadlift power shrug (shrug traps and up on toes elbows locked) at 60-70% of max DL.

Big D did you perhaps mean the Dimel DL?

In Dave Tate’s Eight Keys Part 2 he describes the Dimel DL as:
Dimel Deadlift ? The Dimel deadlift is the one movement we get the most questions about. To perform it, stand in front of the barbell with around 30 to 40 percent of your max deadlift weight. Pull the bar to the top position. This is the starting position of the exercise.

From here you want to arch your back as hard as you can and push your hips back until you feel a extreme stretch in your hamstring and glutes. For the first few reps you’ll lower the bar with a controlled tempo to just below knee level then rebound back up. Once you get the bar path figured out you’ll then begin to lower very fast and rebound out of the bottom in a ballistic fashion. This is a high speed, high rep exercise that’s best trained with 2 to 3 sets of 20 reps.

I agree with Patricia that if you want to shrug then do shrugs as a separate movement.

When I trained in a public gym, my training partners and I had a habit of wearing headphones (sometimes even plugged into walkmans, but often not), that way we could ignore questions/comments/coaching/etc during our workouts.

And this is why I love you guys. Thanks for all the advice. I think the staff member just considers DLs to be a “traps” excercise, in that if you’re doing deadlifts, you’re doing them for the traps.

I think I’ll stick to the plain ol’ DLs for now, and throw in the shrugs for a change/if I feel I need them. I’m still getting a lot of my newbie gains at this point, so I want to keep it simple…

I think that once you begin to increase your weight significantly in the deadlift you wont be able to shrug it at the top. The weight will just be much more than what you would use for shrugs. I dont see any problem with a combination movement but i would opt for using a heavier weight on the deads and do your shrugs separately.

No, you don’t have to shrug. Sometimes I do this if I’m not doing shrugs in my workout. Of course, I’m one of the few people you’ll find that shrug more than I deadlift!