Written by Jack Boardman
Benefits and Practice Of Deadlifting A Christmas Tree
There are times when, as a weightlifter, your technique is called upon outside of the gym. One such time is the Christmas season when you need to get the family tree from the ground to your car, or lifting those boxes of decorations in the attic.
Good job you’ve never skipped leg day. Christmas is a time for looking back at the year behind you and you should have gotten in many-a-leg day, meaning that your deadlift technique is on point and everyone will now see that when it comes to lifting the tree.
Perfecting your deadlifting technique has many uses outside of the gym and will avoid injuring yourself by lifting incorrectly.
Perfecting Your Deadlift Technique
Imagine a mark in the centre of your chest and keep this in view in the mirror, ie. keep your chest out and chin up and focus in on your hamstrings – sticking out your rear so that the weight goes to the toes with your back rounding as you lift. Hold the bar with your feet shoulder-width and hands a little further apart. Don’t let the bar touch your shin – when you’re lifting the tree the branches are likely to be touching your legs, but make sure the trunk isn’t. (Wear trousers the pine needles can’t prick through.) Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar (or trunk) and inhale, easing out the breath as you straighten your back.
Along with your hamstrings, though, remember that deadlifting heavy weight will contract the neck, back, shoulders and delts.
Make sure you are contracting your quads and that the strain is taken off your lower back.
Tis the season to be jolly, not injured due to poor technique. When it comes to deadlifting, don’t get creative, think ‘fixed motion.’ A false movement, a mis-timed jerk or exertion that channels the wrong muscles could result in spending a Christmas party or two resting with ice by your horizontal tree.
Be conscious of each movement and aware of every muscle that you are isolating. This isn’t to scare you into worrying about injuries when deadlifting more than any other form of weightlifting, but the potential for back, neck and shoulder maladies is something you should be aware of when deadlifting.
How Can You Avoid Deadlift Injuries?
Limber up. Always stretch your quads, back, core and shoulders before you begin your workout. Before you lift, do a few rehearsals: first practicing the motions of a deadlift without the bar, then, when this is comfortable try it with the bar without extra weight added. Remember: medium to larger sized Christmas trees are from 40 to 50 pounds. The weight of an Olympic bar alone is 20 kg, so if you can lift a barbell without the extra weight, lifting your tree shouldn’t be an issue. However, the same rules apply when it comes to avoiding injuries.
Common Deadlift Mistakes
The most common injury when deadlifting is lower back pain. This is often caused by lifting with a rounded back and bending too far forward at the hips before lifting. Other common mistakes to avoid include holding the bar away from your body instead of close to your body – remember, the bar should almost touch your upper shins as you lift and remain close as you straighten. At the top of the movement, avoid hyperextending your lower back and don’t lean further back at the end of the movement – even if you’re wanting to get away from the pine needles.
Other safety measures include a weightlifting belt for extra support and something to help your grip; at the gym, use lifting gloves or chalk to strengthen your natural grip, for your tree, use thick gloves the pine needles can’t penetrate so that you can get a proper grip on the tree. A gym buddy and mirrors can help you see where your technique needs work, but when lifting your tree having someone spot you is just as good an idea.
Last but not least: recover. You’ve exerted yourself and worked your muscles so protein and carbs are in order. Raise your tree and decorate, pointing out to everyone how good you are at deadlifting as they admire the tinsel and presents beneath it.