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Old 08-09-2009, 10:57 AM   #1
Ken DaSilva
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Question Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

So, I'm curious about other peoples experiences with a shoulders-forward vs. shoulders-back style of DL'ing.

I was hoping to avoid discussion about personalities or presentation style, or the video itself, as there's another thread for that.

For those of you that have done both, what are your thoughts on the merits of both?

I was in Canada for work last week and worked out at CF Mississauga (great bunch of guys and gals, really enjoy working out there) and was encouraged to try the shoulders-back technique (after a discussion about said video and the on-going debate).

I had actually been thinking about trying it because, in my mind's eye, it seemed that it would be more effective (pulling more up-and-back, for lack of a better way of saying it).

A week earlier at my home-affiliate, I did the following WOD with my shoulders in front of the bar:
10 DLs (225#)
5 Burpees
10 Toes2Bar
(Descending ladder: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, except for the burpees, which stayed at 5 reps each round)

Then, a week later, I did the following WOD at CF Mississauga with my shoulders behind the bar:
7 DLs (225#)
12 Burpees
200 meter run
5 rounds

I found that with my shoulders behind the bar I used my hamstrings and glutes more and that the movement was less lower-back intensive. Sitting into the DL was comfortable and I didn't have a pre-lift body adjustment. I found that I was able to keep the bar closer to my body, especially on the descent (to the point that I shaved a strip of hair off of my quad, just above the knee with the knurling )

I was able to keep better form overall, and I found the pull easier and less taxing. I haven't gotten a chance to try this on a Max Effort or 5x3 or 5x5, but I think that my numbers would go up. I'd say that I'm a convert, but would need to play it out some more.

I'm sure that physiology plays into it. I'm realatively short (5'8"), but I don't know if my torso or legs would be considered comparitively longer or shorter.

For those of you who have done both, what are your experiences/toughts?

Last edited by Ken DaSilva : 08-09-2009 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:06 PM   #2
Rene Forestier
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Re: Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

The "Dave Tate video" thread has some similar testimonials...people using the "shoulders behind the bar cue" were able to keep their hips closer to the bar. I've been on an extended rest and haven't been able to try it. I'm 6'2" with some back issues...I'm very interested to see how it feels.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:17 PM   #3
Jake Scherzer
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Re: Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

I prefer shoulders behind the bar for pretty much the same reasons outlined above. I'm 5' 11" and 255 (gotta get rid of the gut still but slimmed down a LOT from my previous 278) and I've tried both methods while doing 5/3/1 - I'm able to pull more on that final set with shoulders behind the bar rather than in front because my lower back doesn't poop out as fast.

I've been doing more GMs and such lately to tighten up the back, so I might give another AMAP set a go with shoulders in front on my next cycle of 5/3/1 and see how it feels.
"My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud." - Henry Rollins
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:33 PM   #4
Philip Bjorge
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Re: Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

I would just stress the idea that "shoulders back" is only a cue. When the bar leaves the floor your shoulders will be in front of the bar whether you want it or not.

While the cue may be useful, I think it is important to understand the anatomy behind the deadlift.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:23 PM   #5
John Koshy
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Re: Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

I asked Dave Tate about this on facebook. he replied saying that pick whichever allows you to pull more weight.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:32 PM   #6
Marcel Zwinger
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Re: Deadlift: Shoulders Forward vs Back?

similar experience here.
I also tend to "mix it up" a bit during high reps of DL's

I know that it might just be a cue, but isn't that what cues are for?
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