First, I just want to address what some people have probably already decided based on the title: no, I don’t hate deadlifts. Deadlifts can be an extremely effective tool for increasing strength. I really like deadlifts for a sport like wrestling, where more brute strength is required, and the sport itself is more of a grind. But for now, let’s dig deeper into why I don’t have my athletes deadlift in general.
For throwers, I find that the range of motion on deadlifts is not quite what we want. Throwers need more hip mobility, shoulder mobility and snappiness. That’s why I tend to prefer snatch variations, clean variations, and squats. If we’re doing some form of each of the three, I feel as though we don’t need the strength base that the deadlift can provide. If we consider mobility issues for throwers, we see another issue with deadlifts. Throwers are often already fairly kyphotic (internally rotated at the shoulders), with tight upper backs. The positioning of a regular deadlift can serve to exacerbate these issues. The shoulders are already very internally rotated in a normal deadlift, and the upper back can continue to tighten due to the load being placed on the body. As well, deadlifts can cause a lot of pronation of the feet during the movement, which can potentially lead to knee caving in other movements like squats, as well as hip mobility problems. For me, an exception to this idea is if someone were to perform a very strict clean-style deadlift. Long arms, proper hip placement and posture can help to combat many of these mobility concerns.
The next consideration is the transfer of training. Everyone loves to load on plates and smash heavy weight, but the excessive load from deadlifts can turn the lift into a grind. Deadlifts don’t have much of an acceleration in the strength curve, and while bands and chains can help with this, deadlifts still don’t quite match up to squats, cleans, and snatches. As throwers, we look for power output in our training, because our sport asks us to put power into an implement. For this reason, I feel that back and front squats, combined with cleans and snatches do a much better job of power development that will transfer into the circle. Further, the hip and ankle range of motion required by these movements will address some of the mobility concerns I discussed above.
Again, I don’t hate deadlifts. I don’t think it’s impossible to deadlift to throw far. If you can move around a shit ton of weight from the floor, you will probably have solid power output. So, you can consider deadlifts in your training if you also take into account the negative impacts they can have on you and address them accordingly. But I truly think that squats and weightlifting movements are going to be more effective and efficient at creating the strength, mobility, and power output necessary for far throws. With all of that being said, be on the lookout for an article about situations where I might program deadlifts.