Monday, 20 August 2012

Dead-lifts and Paralympics

Ladies and Gents firstly let me apologise for the length of time since my previous blog post, I guess it was back on 13th June. I know people say, "Hey, I've been busy!"...but really I have!!

Anyway, this is going to be short and sweet.....and split in to two parts...

(a). Dead-lifts..

I've always professed to resistance machines over free-weight exercises, and I know that even one of my own publications hasn't supported this (basically the evidence says it's how you train not what you train with). But a piece of research I've been working on for (literally) years has just been published in Physical Therapy in Sport;

A randomized trial to consider the effect of Romanian deadlift exercise on the development of lumbar extension strength



To consider the efficacy of 10 weeks of Romanian deadlift (DL) training in increasing lumbar extension strength compared to isolated lumbar extension (LUMX) training.


Comparison of pre- and post-test data for Romanian deadlift 1RM, and lumbar extension torque between and within groups.


Male trained subjects (n = 36;  24.9 ± 6.5 years; 178.5 ± 5.2 cm; 81.6 ± 10.0 kg).

Main outcome measures

Pre- and post-testing included a Romanian deadlift 1RM and isometric strength tests every 12° through full range of motion on the MedX lumbar extension machine (MedX, Ocala, FL).


Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Bonferroni adjustments revealed that 1RM Romanian deadlift significantly increased from pre- to post-test in the DL group (p < 0.008; 143.3 ± 23.4 kg to 166.3 ± 21.9 kg) and the LUMX group (p < 0.008; 135.8 ± 23.1 kg to 146.0 ± 25.5 kg). In contrast, tested functional torque (TFT) significantly increased at 6 out of 7 joint angles (p < 0.008) for the LUMX group only. The control group showed no significant differences pre- to post-test.


These data suggest that the Romanian deadlift does not enhance lumbar extension torque. However, performing specific isolated lumbar extension training appears to improve both lumbar extension torque and Romanian deadlift 1RM.
Romanian Deadlift

Before anyone get's on my case arguing for or against dead-lifts, let me clarify that I include dead-lifts in my workout. But I include them for the enjoyment of the exercise and for the skill element. Ultimately what this research suggests is that dead-lifts are not sufficient to improve lower back strength. Simple. This is likely due to the compound nature of the movement and that other muscles might dominate the exercise (e.g. gluteals and hamstrings). However, strengthening the lower back extensors (by training them in an isolated fashion) does improve dead-lift 1RM, so back extensors are clearly important for dead-lifting, indeed they might be the limiting factor, but simply aren't stimulated enough by the exercise to grow. 
Interestingly a secondary outcome of this study (which some might consider even more important that the first) is the strength increases found in the training groups. The 1 x / week dead-lift group, who were trained participants, improved their dead-lift by an average of 23kg over the  10 week training intervention. That's a 16% strength increase. As the author I can clarify that most of these participants were actually quite shocked by this. 
Until now most of the research has stated that trained persons need to train more frequently not less frequently, but this study proves the contrary. Indeed, the publication mentioned at the start of this blog supports exactly this, that training 1 x / week for most major muscle groups is sufficient. I'd bet most people reading this are confident that more is better. but what if you cut your training down to once per week and improved your strength by 16%, would that work out for you!? Damn straight it would!
Ultimately our genetics will determine the required stimulus and the response (I've talked about this countless times and once again it's in the publication), but training to muscular failure is the winner again.
Train smart, and hard and then recover.
(b). Paralympics..
One of the reasons it's been so long since my last publication is that I have been busy with GB Women's Wheelchair Basketball team. Some of you may know that I've been an assistant coach with the squad for about 4 years now, and obviously it's a busy time in the run-up to London 2012. Because of this I'm unlikely to blog again before I go in to the village in 7 days, but rest assured that I will blog when I'm back out.
Until then Channel 4 (Britain and internet) are covering the games so please check it out! Here's a taster:

I'm frustrated that Channel 4 haven't allowed that video to be embedded, but here's another inspiring video for the Paralympic games.

Be Well, and Tune in!


1 comment: