Grip, Dip, and RIP!

Obviously, we’re talking about DEADLIFTS! If you haven’t heard it before, “grip, dip and rip” typically refers to the set-up and execution of picking up heavy barbells off the ground. Grip- Grab the bar and squeeze it tight. Dip- Dip your hips down, get your back flat. RIP!- RIP that bar off the floor!

I’m a big fan of the phrase. It takes an extremely technical lift like the deadlift and boils it down to three simple words that happen to rhyme. Awesome. Of course, when teaching someone how to properly pick up heavy things, more effective cueing is going to be necessary. However, if you’ve been deadlifting for a while and your technique is in check, sometimes you need to stop obsessing over the MILLIONS of details involved in the technique and just RIP that bar off the ground and into lockout.

The Dip

Although each cue deserves a blog post of its own, what I want to talk about specifically is that crucial point between the grip and the rip. That moment immediately before you pull when you set your position can make or break your lift. So what really goes on in that short duration in your deadlift set-up?

Bracing and Setting Your Lower Back

The moment you set your hips into position is also the moment when you should be bracing as hard as you can through your abs. With your hips in place and your abs as tight as possible, you set your lower back into a neutral position to protect your spine from the high sheer and compressive forces you’re about to hit it with.

Applying Tension in the Hamstrings

Pulling your hips down into position while simultaneously flattening out your lower back will place a significant amount of tension on your hamstrings, which is a great thing to have happen right before your deadlift. By creating this pre-stretch, you will be able to take advantage of the stretch reflex that we humans so thoroughly enjoy. When the muscle spindles in your hamstrings are stimulated by the stretch they will freak out and wake up all the contractile units, who will all jump on-board the deadlifting train and say “alright boss, LET’S DO THIS!”

One thing to keep in mind regarding the pre-stretch on your hamstrings is that the longer you hold that stretched position the more the reflex potential will be diminished. Think about it in terms of another lift: what’s easier, a touch-and-go bench press or a bench press with a 3 second pause on your chest? So when you dip down into position on your deadlift and feel tight, PULL! Don’t hang out at the bottom for too long.

Setting Your Upper Back

Another key component in preparing for a nice deadlift is setting your upper back. This means shoulders down and back, sufficient t-spine extension, neck packed, and using your lats. During my “dip” on the deadlift, I also like to roll my shoulders from a shrugged position into a packed position while doing my best to extend through the t-spine. I also like to apply some external rotation torque on the bar with my hands because I feel like it helps me “turn on” my lats.

All of THAT in the Dip?!?

Yep, all of that happens in the dip. It’s a lot of detail, but as I mentioned earlier, don’t get caught up in trying to go down a HUGE technique checklist before every pull. Trust me, you’ll drive yourself crazy because you will always be able to find an aspect of the lift you didn’t do with absolute perfection. Just work on fixing a couple form issues at a time and keep on grippin’ dippin’ and rippin’!