Larry Wheels Shares Tips For Finding Proper Spine Alignment When Deadlifting

Record-breaking powerlifter Larry "Wheels" Williams is often seen crushing one insane PR after another on social media. So when the 27-year-old soon-to-be competitive strongman decides to give his insight into his contest-winning technique, fellow lifters should probably be ready to take note.

It’s easy to observe a man-mountain such as Wheels and presume that his feats of strength are native to his DNA, but the truth is that brute strength only goes so far. As a teenager, Wheels’ first training experiences were when he built a barbell via a broomstick with cinder blocks on either side. Even before he was old enough to join a gym, Wheels was honing his craft. However, while the future powerlifting star worked hard to build his strength from an early age, he knows that improvements can always be made by acknowledging errors with technique.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Larry (@larrywheels)

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"One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started work with coach [John] Gaglione was I wouldn’t set my back position before I lifted. I had a bad habit of yanking the weight off the ground when I lifted as a teenager," says Wheels in his June 8, 2022, Instagram post. "Before I got any coaching in the deadlift, I was so focused on my floor speed; I never actually got tight and my back would round when pulling off the floor."

As those who deadlift know, lifting the barbell from the floor is far more complex than it appears. There’s far more to the execution than simply pulling the weight skyward. Pushing your feet down through the floor is essential. Correct posture and a controlled core are necessary to execute the deadlift motion correctly. Wheels notes that his back rounded when it should have been straight in those early training days.

I would tend to get stuck at the lockout, and I would get called for ramping at my earlier meets.

Ramping is when you support the barbell using your thighs as you approach the lockout. The thighs assisting the lift in the eyes of a judge during a sanctioned meet could lead to disqualification.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Larry (@larrywheels)

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In his Instagram post, Wheels takes the time to give those who may be seeking to improve their deadlifts some elite advice, imparted as a result of the wisdom gained working with John Gaglione, the elite powerlifter and coach behind "Gaglione Strength," a gym in Long Island, NY.

Coach taught me how to brace properly and stack my rib cage over my pelvis.

Wheels explained the theory behind some of his recent showstopping lifts, which could also help lifters who struggle to find the proper spine position:

  • Find your hip bones and place one hand there.
  • Find the bottom your rib cage.
  • Arch your back and the distance [between the hips and ribs] increases. Round [your back] and the distance gets shorter.
  • Find the middle.

Wheels points out that "neutral" is a range that will vary from person to person. His method of figuring out an individual’s posture for deadlifting may prove superior to checking form in the mirror because different body shapes can make identifying a neutral position challenging.

This is a great way to learn how to position your back properly…in both the squat and the deadlift.

Using the rib cage as a gauge for back positioning could prove to be an effective tool for better lifting techniques. Give it a try next time you’re building toward a new deadlift PR.

Featured image: @larrywheels on Instagram

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