Maintain the Squat, Train the Deadlift

Written by Kyle Barrow Sunday, December 4, 2011 FMS

What Gray is alluding to is quite simple and comes down to risk vs reward and fundamental movement. We believe that the deadlift is a superior pattern to load than the squat. Now, we are not saying you shouldn't load squat or you get no benefits. But, the Deadlift is favored over squat when evaluating risk vs. reward for most people. Lets get back to the basics...

Fundamental Patterns

Squatting is not an exercise; it is a movement pattern. The movement is part of growth and development as a transition from the floor to standing. Squatting can be used as an exercise but is first and foremost a movement pattern.
 
 
This is a great example of fundamental movement patterns in relation to growth and development. This child has no prior experience or world class strength coach teaching him to squat and deadlift. It happens naturally as we begin to explore our environment and when specific tasks are placed on us.
 
Now, a rounded back and feet pointed out during a relaxed squat is not necessarily a bad thing either. But you being to appreciate the level of learning and awareness these two pictures resemble. How did this child know to keep tibia's verticle, spine in a neutral position, to hip hinge fully? It's quite incredible, but most of us cannot access this pattern, but when we do we find it hard to even look like this. 
 
Think about it, the first time you squatted, you did it from the bottom up, not the top down. It is ironic that when we exercise the squat movement pattern with weight, we start at the top with a load and go down. That never happens in nature, whereas a movement like a deadlift actually does happen naturally. In essence, with the squat, we are training a natural movement pattern in an unnatural way. In nature, we would squat down to get a load close to the ground, not get under the load. 
 

Squat Vs Deadlift

Below Gray Cook describes the efficiency of movement in both the squat and deadlift using the analogy of a coiled spring. The coiled spring represents the loading of the body through movement, where efficient positioning drives the power required for lifting.

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Many people familiar with weight training do not understand or use deadlifting as a primary lifting and movement exercise. They either perform it incorrectly, doing something between a squat and deadlift, or they have subscribed to misinformation that promotes the concept that deadlifting will injure the back, and so they avoid it altogether.

Instead, use the opportunity to present the deadlift as the most fundamental, natural and authentic way to move something heavy in a safe and effective way.

If you are looking to introduce or improve your Kettlebell skills, Kettlebells from the center is a great resource that focuses on the fundamental principles of kettlebell training. You'll learn techniques such as the hip hinge, single and double arm swings, squatting and pressing. If you are a certified member of FMS, you receive this course for free as part of their archives benefit.

Deadlifting also provides protection for those who have misused or injured their backs. Deadlifting is part of many back rehabilitation cases because of its both therapeutic and protective qualities. Obviously, we treat the underlying causes of the many back problems we encounter first; however when the condition is stable, we bring the exercise into the mix.


Kyle is the content/marketing specialist and assistant instructor for FMS. He is a certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach. 

      

 
 

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