Stronger Athletes

Compound vs Isolation Movements and the Deadlift

April 5 Not by might nor power but by my spirit says the Lord Almighty." -Zechariah 4:6

Dear StrongerAthletes: Compound vs Isolation Movements and the Deadlift

Dear Coach, I would like to talk about compound vs. isolation movements. I know that you feel that machines are safer (and they are), and, despite the principle of specificity, I believe that compound movements are more functional to sports. Functional strength is what you need in sports. Squatting may not be tackling, but they do both use similar muscles, meaning the hips, thighs, and back. Throwing involves the hips, legs, arms, back, and shoulders. You can see where I'm going.

Also regarding the specificity principle, while lifting will not make you a better player, it does increase your athletic potential on the field as long as you use your newfound strength in conjunction with sports related skills. For instance, in the example I used above, squatting isn't tackling, but it does increase your overall potential to become a better tackler, because your muscles will be more receptive to higher impacts.

Also, What's your viewpoint of how deadlifting should be done? Do you think you should just touch the bar to the floor and go up, or do you think a reset is okay? Or is it a comfort thing, like the stance? Personally, I like the reset method better, especially if I use heavier weights in the 6-10 range. I don't slam the weight on the way down, nor do I use momentum going up, so I feel I'm still executing an efficient movement. I just feel that holding the bar the whole time puts unnecessary stress on the lower back. Also, resetting allows you to reposition your hands if they slide a bit, and it allows you to get in proper form again. I think it helps incorporate the legs better, too. I feel that either way will still stimulate trap and lower lat development.

Also, what "goes out" first when deadlifting properly? For instance, if you're doing a bench press, your shoulders or triceps might be exhausted before your chest muscles. When deadlifting, what exhausts first--your legs or some part of your back?

I think when it comes to teaching kids how to deadlift, no matter how they end up actually doing it, I think you should make sure they reset early on. I think this forces them to monitor their technique at all times. Plus, it keeps the tension off their lower back, which isn't always fully developed in adolescents or young adults. Also, I think it gives a better gage of their strength, because there's always a fine line between touching the floor and bouncing off the floor.

When I said I reset, I don't really mean I start over. I still have the bar. I just get myself in position to do another pull in correct form. There are so many things that go wrong with the deadlift, that I want to make sure that I'm ready for that next rep. And those mistakes aren't always injuries. It can make you more inefficient. If I don't wear wraps, my hands slide all over the place, and I end up off balance. If I reset, I can get my body in better position to get a couple more reps, and they'll be in better form.

Jay Tusch

In regards to your comments about isolated movements versus compound movements, yes what you say is true, however, we also will give credit to isolation movements as they increase strength which also aids the athlete in performance. We are still squat advocates and prescribe several compound movements to our athletes.

We talk about the dead lift all the time. One week its in the next its out. As much as we love the dead lift there are a lot of intangibles that make it a tricky movement when working with kids. We are incorporating the lift right now via the trap bar. We have a raised handle as well as a low handle version. We do not coach them to reset after each rep but we don't see a problem with that other than the loss of constant tension on the working muscles.

In regards to what fatigues first. (We were just talking about that this week). It seems to us that the smaller muscles that regulate proper form in the lift go first. Such as the traps, rear delts, and forearms.

Coach, you make some great points and your comments are greatly appreciated. keep up the good work!

***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***

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