November 01, 2006
It is a rather dim memory, but I have pictures and trophies that I am told are mine. I was once a decent deadlifter. My PR was 633, done on two separate occasions at a bodyweight of 220. So here I offer a new, rather long, analysis of the deadlift.
The start position involves the shoulders being in front of the bar, which is to say, on the other side of the bar from the rest of the body. The interesting thing about this position is that when you’re in it, your arms are straight but not actually vertical. They are at about a 10-degree angle from vertical, because the shoulders in front of the bar have them reaching back to the bar at this angle. But it sure seems as though they would almost have to be vertical since a damned heavy weight is hanging from them. Shouldn’t they hang straight down? And another thing: shouldn’t the back be as vertical as possible, since vertical is easier on the back?
The answer to both is no. The arms cannot hang straight down; they must be at an angle from the shoulders back to the bar, and the back cannot be vertical if the shoulders are in that position. But why is this true?
The force that is transferred from the back to the bar doesn’t just leap over to the arms through the air. It is transferred to the arms through the shoulder blades, and it just so happens that when the correct deadlift position is assumed, the shoulder blades—not the front of the deltoids—are in fact directly over the bar in a line perfectly plumb and vertical to the bar.