Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: Straight Leg Deadlift

Back to Basics: Strength Day 2

Warm-up

The warm-up shouldn't take you more than about 5-10 minutes to complete, especially once you become familiar with the exercises and sequencing. Watch the video to get an idea of how each exercise is done.

Quadruped Shoulder Series x 240 reps
Open/Close x 15 reps
Scarecrow x 15 reps
Scapular Retraction x 10 reps
Quadruped Torso Twists x 10 reps/side
Face Pulls with Scapular Retraction x 15 reps
External Rotations x 10 reps
Overhead Squats x 10 reps
Leg Swings x 48 reps
Scorpions x 8 reps
Fire Hydrants x 20 reps

Strength

Back (or Front*) Squat - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of "working weight"
50% of "working weight"
60% of "working weight"
Working Set 1
Working Set 2
Working Set 3
Working Set 4
Working Set 5

Overhead Press - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of "working weight"
50% of "working weight"
60% of "working weight"
Working Set 1
Working Set 2
Working Set 3
Working Set 4
Working Set 5

Snatch Deadlift** - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of deadlift "working weight"
50% of deadlift "working weight"
60% of deadlift "working weight"

Deadlift - 5 repetitions
Working Set 1

*Front Squats - When starting this program, it is great to back squat 3x/week to build up your strength. However, I really like the front squat for a number of reasons, including preparing your body for Olympic Lifts down the road, improving posture, and most importantly, making your back squat that much better. Once you are able to back squat your own body weight 5x5, I recommend you start front squatting 50% of your 5x5 back squat on Strength Days 2 & 4, in place of back squats. So, if you are 180lbs and can squat 180lbs 5x5, start front squatting 90lbs on Strength Days 2&4, increasing in weight the same way you would with the other lifts by adding 5 pounds to the next workout, every time you successfully lift 5x5.

**Snatch Deadlift - Just read at how great this variation to a classic is. What's nice about this setup is that you probably won't be deadlifting as much with a snatch grip versus a clean grip, so as your traditional deadlift increases (clean grip), your snatch deadlift can increase accordingly based on the percentages. For example, if you are deadlifting 200lbs, your snatch grip sets will be 80, 100, and 120lbs. As your deadlift climbs to, say, 260lbs, you will then be lifting 105, 130, and 155lbs with the snatch grip. The snatch grip deadlift forces you to squat a bit deeper since your hands are further apart so you will get a bit more activation and stretch in the posterior chain and legs preparing you for the heavy set of clean grip deadlifts.

Each exercise has anywhere from 1-3 warm-up sets with 40, 50, and/or 60% of your "working sets" weight. All "working sets" weight stays the same for all working sets. I usually round to the nearest 5-pound increment for my warm-up sets. This is where 2.5lb. weight plates come in handy so that you can micro-load your barbell with 5 total pounds.

A set of squats (180lb. "working weight") would therefore look like this:

40% - 70lbs. x 5 reps
No rest
50% - 90lbs. x 5 reps
No rest
60% - 110lbs. x 5 reps
90 second rest

180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps

*There is no set rest time between warm-up sets (besides the time it takes you to load your barbell), however, the following guidelines should be followed for the working sets:

  1. If you complete all 5 repetitions with ease and no break in form, take a 90 second break before the next working set.
  2. If you struggle with one or more repetitions to reach 5, take a 90-180 second (1.5-3 minute) break prior to starting your next working set. Do not be in a rush to start the next set, as your body requires time to recover from the previous set's effort. Your central nervous system also needs time to recover.
  3. If you miss one or more repetitions, which means you either fail to lift the weight at all, or substantially break form to complete (not recommended), then rest for 5 minutes before attempting the same weight again.

If you complete all 5 working sets with the same weight then you increase your weight by 5 pounds for the next workout you complete this exercise.

Accessory

Romanian Deadlift (RDL) - 3 sets of 5 repetitions completed the same as the strength lifts. Use the same weight for all 3 sets. If you get 5 reps easily, rest 90 seconds between sets. If you struggle to get 5 reps with the given weight, rest 3 minutes between sets. If you miss a rep or break form to complete a rep, rest 5 minutes before the next set.

Sumo Squat/Walking Lunges - 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions. Every set is 6-12 squat reps immediately followed by 6-12 lunging reps.

Chin-ups - Here you can essentially aim for max repetitions (3 sets). If your goal is to train for hypertrophy/strength gains, I recommend adding weight via a weight belt to keep your repetitions lower (6-12 range). This is the dip belt that I have. These should be done strict, no kipping. Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing like having a weight belt hanging in front of your genitals to prevent you from kipping to get more reps!

You will notice that I do not have single-muscle and/or single-joint accessory exercises (bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.). The main strength lifts across all 4 strength days cover essentially every muscle in your body. Coupling that with some of the accessory work to aid in strength and growth, muscles like your biceps and triceps get plenty of work. For example, during a bench press or overhead press, although your are primarily pressing with your pectoral muscles of your chest or deltoid muscles of your shoulder, your triceps are heavily involved in the movement. By doing these exercises, your triceps will get stronger and grow.

Remember that these exercises/lifts are here to aid your main lifts. All of your focus and energy should be focused on your strength work. If, however, you wish to complete the accessory exercises, do not be as attached to previous workouts' numbers and wish to increase numbers. For example, you may have pressed 40lb. dumbbells for 8 reps on the incline press, but as you get stronger and push your bench press numbers higher, you may be more fatigued by the time you reach the accessory work, forcing you to either get fewer reps or drop the weight of the dumbbells a bit.

I use 90 second breaks between each set. I complete all sets of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise. I do not super-set. For example:

Sumo Squat/Walking Lunges x 6-12 reps
90 second rest
Sumo Squat/Walking Lunges x 6-12 reps
90 second rest
Sumo Squat/Walking Lunges x 6-12 reps

Questions/Comments/Concerns? Make sure to comment below!





Back to Basics: Strength Day 4

Warm-up

The warm-up shouldn't take you more than about 5-10 minutes to complete, especially once you become familiar with the exercises and sequencing. Watch the video to get an idea of how each exercise is done.

Quadruped Shoulder Series x 240 reps
Open/Close x 15 reps
Scarecrow x 15 reps
Scapular Retraction x 10 reps
Quadruped Torso Twists x 10/side
Face Pulls with Scapular Retraction x 15 reps
External Rotations x 10 reps
Overhead Squats x 10 reps
Leg Swings x 48 reps
Scorpions x 8 reps
Fire Hydrants x 20 reps

Strength

Back (or Front*) Squat - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of "working weight"
50% of "working weight"
60% of "working weight"
Working Set 1
Working Set 2
Working Set 3
Working Set 4
Working Set 5

Overhead Press - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of "working weight"
50% of "working weight"
60% of "working weight"
Working Set 1
Working Set 2
Working Set 3
Working Set 4
Working Set 5

Snatch Deadlift** - all sets are 5 repetitions
40% of deadlift "working weight"
50% of deadlift "working weight"
60% of deadlift "working weight"

Deadlift - 5 repetitions
Working Set 1

*Front Squats - When starting this program, it is great to back squat 3x/week to build up your strength. However, I really like the front squat for a number of reasons, including preparing your body for Olympic Lifts down the road, improving posture, and most importantly, making your back squat that much better. Once you are able to back squat your own body weight 5x5, I recommend you start front squatting 50% of your 5x5 back squat on Strength Days 2 & 4, in place of back squats. So, if you are 180lbs and can squat 180lbs 5x5, start front squatting 90lbs on Strength Days 2&4, increasing in weight the same way you would with the other lifts by adding 5 pounds to the next workout, every time you successfully lift 5x5.

**Snatch Deadlift - Just read at how great this variation to a classic is. What's nice about this setup is that you probably won't be deadlifting as much with a snatch grip versus a clean grip, so as your traditional deadlift increases (clean grip), your snatch deadlift can increase accordingly based on the percentages. For example, if you are deadlifting 200lbs, your snatch grip sets will be 80, 100, and 120lbs. As your deadlift climbs to, say, 260lbs, you will then be lifting 105, 130, and 155lbs with the snatch grip. The snatch grip deadlift forces you to squat a bit deeper since your hands are further apart so you will get a bit more activation and stretch in the posterior chain and legs preparing you for the heavy set of clean grip deadlifts.

Each exercise has anywhere from 1-3 warm-up sets with 40, 50, and/or 60% of your "working sets" weight. All "working sets" weight stays the same for all working sets. I usually round to the nearest 5-pound increment for my warm-up sets. This is where 2.5lb. weight plates come in handy so that you can micro-load your barbell with 5 total pounds.

A set of squats (180lb. "working weight") would therefore look like this:

40% - 70lbs. x 5 reps
No rest
50% - 90lbs. x 5 reps
No rest
60% - 110lbs. x 5 reps
90 second rest

180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps
*90 second rest
180lbs x 5 reps

*There is no set rest time between warm-up sets (besides the time it takes you to load your barbell), however, the following guidelines should be followed for the working sets:

  1. If you complete all 5 repetitions with ease and no break in form, take a 90 second break before the next working set.
  2. If you struggle with one or more repetitions to reach 5, take a 90-180 second (1.5-3 minute) break prior to starting your next working set. Do not be in a rush to start the next set, as your body requires time to recover from the previous set's effort. Your central nervous system also needs time to recover.
  3. If you miss one or more repetitions, which means you either fail to lift the weight at all, or substantially break form to complete (not recommended), then rest for 5 minutes before attempting the same weight again.

If you complete all 5 working sets with the same weight then you increase your weight by 5 pounds for the next workout you complete this exercise.

Accessory

Romanian Deadlift (RDL) - 3 sets of 5 repetitions completed the same as the strength lifts. Use the same weight for all 3 sets. If you get 5 reps easily, rest 90 seconds between sets. If you struggle to get 5 reps with the given weight, rest 3 minutes between sets. If you miss a rep or break form to complete a rep, rest 5 minutes before the next set.

Dumbbell Swings/Push Press - 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions per arm.

Pull-ups - Here you can essentially aim for max repetitions (3 sets). If your goal is to train for hypertrophy/strength gains, I recommend adding weight via a weight belt to keep your repetitions lower (6-12 range). This is the dip belt that I haveThese should be done strict, no kipping. Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing like having a weight belt hanging in front of your genitals to prevent you from kipping to get more reps!

You will notice that I do not have single-muscle and/or single-joint accessory exercises (bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.). The main strength lifts across all 4 strength days cover essentially every muscle in your body. Coupling that with some of the accessory work to aid in strength and growth, muscles like your biceps and triceps get plenty of work. For example, during a bench press or overhead press, although your are primarily pressing with your pectoral muscles of your chest or deltoid muscles of your shoulder, your triceps are heavily involved in the movement. By doing these exercises, your triceps will get stronger and grow.

Remember that these exercises/lifts are here to aid your main lifts. All of your focus and energy should be focused on your strength work. If, however, you wish to complete the accessory exercises, do not be as attached to previous workouts' numbers and wish to increase numbers. For example, you may have pressed 40lb. dumbbells for 8 reps on the incline press, but as you get stronger and push your bench press numbers higher, you may be more fatigued by the time you reach the accessory work, forcing you to either get fewer reps or drop the weight of the dumbbells a bit.

I use 90 second breaks between each set. I complete all sets of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise. I do not super-set. For example:

Dumbbell Swings/Push Press x 6-12 reps
90 second rest
Dumbbell Swings/Push Press x 6-12 reps
90 second rest
Dumbbell Swings/Push Press x 6-12 reps

Questions/Comments/Concerns? Make sure to comment below!





How to: Straight Leg Deadlift

The straight leg or "Romanian" deadlift is named (by Jim Schmitz) after Nicu Vlad, a weightlifter from Romania. Nicu was one of the first athletes (in Western society, at least) observed using this exercise in 1990. Although it is called a deadlift, it is actually quite different in the setup, approach, and execution of a standard deadlift, not to mention targeting a more specific muscle set in the body (posterior chain).

I can't stress enough how much I not only enjoy this exercise, but highly recommend it to others who have had lower back pain. The unfortunate part about an exercise like this is that it may immediately seem dangerous to those of you with a history of back problems. We are constantly reminded to "lift with our legs" in order to save our backs. Although there isn't anything wrong with learning how to lift something with our legs, this is generally meant for objects that we are picking up off the floor such as a box or large item that extends out beyond our centre of gravity.

Safe and effective barbell training is designed to distribute the load being lifted above our centre of gravity in order to use our bodies in the most mechanically advantageous way possible. A movement such as the straight leg deadlift, although appearing to be dangerous, can actually be a very safe and effective way of lifting, targeting the muscles that make up the posterior chain in order to strengthen the connective tissues there.

Keep in mind, however, that as with any form of exercise, there are inherent dangers associated with lifting weights, and if you have a history of injury or are unsure about a specific movement, it would be best to speak to a qualified medical professional, such as your doctor, to seek their opinion on whether or not you should partake in a particular exercise or program.

The Straight Leg Deadlift

Although we will see in the explanation below that the legs are actually slightly bent, the naming of the straight leg deadlift signifies the "locked out" nature of the legs, all but eliminating the quadriceps from the exercise (some stabilization required). The straight leg deadlift specifically targets the hamstrings, the glutes, the hips, and the erector muscles of the back.

Setup

This will be elaborated on later in this guide, but your starting position for most individuals will be on the floor. However, as you improve your range of motion in this exercise, you will benefit from standing on a raised platform for allow the diameter of the weight plates on the barbell to pass lower than the level of your feet.

Approach

  1. Depending on what set up you have, your "starting point" will be different. If your barbell is starting from a racked or elevated position, simply lift the weight from its rack. If, however, you are starting from the floor, your initial lift of the barbell to get into a starting position should be done with a standard deadlift by bending your knees to pick the bar up. Remember to exhale through the lift. Either way, grab the bar with a double overhand grip (pronated). 
     
  2. *NOTE* - do not just rush through this movement. Although you are just getting into a starting position, focus on your form picking the bar up with a flat back (natural curvature), shoulders over the bar, etc. Use the cuing found in my deadlift guide.
     
  3. You should now be in an erect position with your arms hanging loose, and straight down, holding the bar in a pronated grip against your upper thighs or hips. Your knees should have a slight bend to them.

Execution

  1. From your standing position, take a deep breath and puff out your chest. This causes your shoulders to fall back slightly, squeezing your shoulder blades together as well as rounding your lower back giving you a natural anterior pelvic tilt. (Do not over-exaggerate the curvature of your lower back, however!)
     
  2. Initiate the movement by bending at your hips and pushing your glutes behind you. Think of your upper body as a solid board, as is your lower body, and you are simply hinging at the hips.
     
  3. Your lower legs should remain upright and perpendicular to the ground, however your knees will ever so slightly bend in order to activate your hamstrings. You are bending at the hips as your glutes push behind you. You want to keep the "proud" or "puffed" chest throughout the entire range of motion. This will force you to focus on engaging the back erectors and keep that flat back (natural curvature).
     
  4. The barbell's trajectory should, more or less, move straight up and down. This way, the barbell should remain over your mid foot, traveling directly along your legs without scraping or crashing against your legs. This will force your lats to engage and help keep that important flat back.
     
  5. This exercise is unlike others in that your primary goal should not be to aim for full range of motion (getting the bar to the ground, for example), if you do not have the flexibility. Your range of motion is determined by your flexibility. Once you reach a point where you can no longer lower the barbell without losing the curvature of the lower back, or the upper back collapses (shoulders begin to sag to the ground), you should complete the repetition by executing the concentric portion of the exercise and returning to a standing position.
     
  6. Once you have reached the "bottom" of your eccentric action, you should exhale as you stand back up. In order to do so, the hamstrings and glutes "pull" your upper body back into an erect position by hinging at the hips, bringing them forward.
     
  7. This is a strength building exercise, both the eccentric (lowering), and the concentric (raising) actions of the bar should be done in a slow and controlled manner.

Dumbbell Variety

Whether you are using a barbell or dumbbells for this exercise, the cuing and range of motion should be essentially the same. Make sure you maintain the slight bend at the knees and the natural curvature of the spine throughout the full range of motion.

Q&A, Miscellaneous Facts/Tips

  1. One of the best things I like about the RDL is that this exercise is a tremendous posterior stretch while also working to strengthen the muscles and ligaments. The more frequently you do this exercise, the more flexible you will become therefore increasing your range of motion. You may even reach a point when you need to stand on some sort of platform (a couple stacked plates should do the trick) in order to allow the barbell to pass lower than the level of your feet.
     
  2. hen I attended my USA Weightlifting course, my instructor mentioned at how some of the Olympics-bound athletes are able to straight leg deadlift as much weight as they squat. Now although this may not be the same for you, keep in mind that the glutes and hamstrings can be, and should be very strong to help with your overall posture and posterior chain strength.