T Nation

Trouble with Deadlifts and Shrugs


#1

Seems like a really obvious answer to this question, but its something I've been having trouble with.

When deadlifting or doing shrugs I'm having trouble keeping my arms straight and not making a bend when going through the lift. I've tried flexing my triceps and relaxing my biceps at the beginning of the lift and I start with my arms locked out. I use an overhand grip with straps, and I even try using the hook grip but none of it seems to help. I'm starting to feel the strain on my biceps, and this is what brought it to my attention more. Any advice?


#2

Lower the weight.


#3

Video


#4

stretch the biceps like a mother. I’m serious.


#5

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
stretch the biceps like a mother. I’m serious.[/quote]
Yeah I’m working on this. Its more on shrugs that I have this issue and after looking at multiple peoples shrug it seems that no one keeps their arms dead straight at the top part of the shrug. Not so much trouble with it on deadlifts. And I’m gonna try to get a video next time I get in the gym.


#6

Sounds like you are trying to pull with your arms when in fact during a deadlift the arms are just levers.

Basically the Deadlift is a technical lift which takes a lot of practice. Work on lifting in low reps. 1-5 reps is fine but don’t go over 5 reps as it’s too hard to maintain good form and your form must be good when doing deadlifts.
You’ll see top powerlifters form go a bit in competition but those are true maximum lifts and they are trying to lift the bar no matter what. In training the form must be spot on.
Pulling with the arms can result in serious injury so this is something you need to get sorted.

As for shrugs (and all back exercises) the arms should just be levers and the brain should be focused on the muscle getting worked.
Lowering the weight and focusing on getting a mind muscle connection is the best way to take your arms out of the lift. Once you can do this you will find you wont be pulling deadlifts with your arms anymore and they will stay straight.


#7

[quote]Angus1 wrote:
Sounds like you are trying to pull with your arms when in fact during a deadlift the arms are just levers.

Basically the Deadlift is a technical lift which takes a lot of practice. Work on lifting in low reps. 1-5 reps is fine but don’t go over 5 reps as it’s too hard to maintain good form and your form must be good when doing deadlifts.
You’ll see top powerlifters form go a bit in competition but those are true maximum lifts and they are trying to lift the bar no matter what. In training the form must be spot on.
Pulling with the arms can result in serious injury so this is something you need to get sorted.

As for shrugs (and all back exercises) the arms should just be levers and the brain should be focused on the muscle getting worked.
Lowering the weight and focusing on getting a mind muscle connection is the best way to take your arms out of the lift. Once you can do this you will find you wont be pulling deadlifts with your arms anymore and they will stay straight.
[/quote]

Thanks Angus. Heres what I was talking about on shrugs though Angus, I found a picture that shows what I was talking about. Its from a bodybuilding.com example, and at the top of the motion he clearly has his arms bent. I understand that hes not pulling with his arms but with his traps, but is it okay if your arms slightly bend like this at the top with shrugs?
Sorry if I’m making a bigger deal out of this then it is. Just trying to avoid another injury here.


#8

Yeah I knew what you were talking about with the bent arms. A lot of inexperienced lifters use their arms on just about all lifts.
Look with shrugs who the hell cares? It’s a barbell shrug. Not even an exercise I would be doing if I was inexperienced.
If you do them then practice doing them with straight arms as it will teach you to take arms out of the lift. If you can’t then dump barbell shrugs.

Do this in a deadlift though and it is a big problem. It is a technical lift so focus on getting the form perfect. I actually find people lift better when there is a bit of weight on the bar. Not too heavy but if it’s too light then you subconsciously know you can lean forward or bend your arm or raise your hips too soon etc… and nothing bad happens. When lifting a bit more weight then we automatically try and set up better , keep the bar close to the body, pull with a bit more purpose ,chest out, keep tight etc…

If you find it too hard then dump conventional deads for a while and focus on Romanian deadlifts.
Start with the bar in a rack in the standing upright position grab the bar and take a step back . Now in this position your arms should be locked straight down. Now with your chest out and back arched force your hips back and slide the bar down your legs just past the knee. Now maintaining an arched lower back thrust your hips forward hard until your upright again. Now this is a great way to learn how to keep your arms straight and how to use your hips. It also teaches you how to keep your chest out and how to brace your back with a lumbar arch.
The knees should be slightly bent.

This is one of the best exercises for hamstrings, glutes and erector spinae. Once you can master this then you should be ready to get back into conventional deads. RDL’s should be a staple of any training plan.