Primal humans were naturally strong. Their ability to survive depended on their physical fitness to fulfill the basic necessities of life. Food. Water. Shelter…
Motivated by the drive to survive, primal humans had no choice but to exert their bodies against the forces of nature. The physical world required them to lift, squat, push, pull and carry their bodies against the forces of gravity. Physical strength was a requirement for staying alive.
Nowadays, you may not need to climb a tree or lift a deer carcass, but you should be able to carry your groceries or hold your child. Just like your ancestors, you too need sufficient strength to lift, squat, push, pull and carry objects of daily life.
You need a basic level of baseline bodyweight strength, but what exercises do you do?
Well, to be a beast at basic human function, you must master the natural movement patterns the human body has evolved to perform.
Let’s begin this Primal Strength Series with the Deadlift
Primal Strength Movement #1 DEADLIFT
The deadlift gets its name from the act of lifting a dead-weight object from the ground. It can be any object. Heavy or light, the movement mechanics are the same.
Commonly practiced in the powerlifting community, the deadlift is often called “The King of Strength Movements” because it engages all muscles of the body from your hands to your heels. Fully engaging the powerful muscles of the hips, back and legs allow you to lift heavy objects safely and successfully.
When done correctly, the deadlift can be the single best exercise for building full-body strength. However, if done incorrectly, or poorly executed, this movement can result in severe pain or permanent injury.
Be warned, the risk of injury is not only when lifting heavy objects, but is also present every time you bend over if even to pick up a penny from the sidewalk.
This is why mastering the deadlift movement pattern is so critically important.
How to Hip Hinge
The most important part of any lift is your spine positioning. When exerting the body, neutral spine positioning protects and preserves your back. To perform a proper deadlift (or any strength movement for that matter) it is critical to first learn how to properly hip hinge.
When you hip hinge, you keep your spine in an aligned in a good position and move through your hips — instead of rounding through your spine. Keeping your spine neutrally aligned you will protect your back by lifting with your powerful hip and leg muscles.
We’ve all heard “lift with the legs” right? Well, that’s what the hip hinge allows us to do.
To master the hip hinge, I find it useful to use a straight stick or doll rod. By holding the stick along your back you can get feedback on whether you are in a rounded or neutrally aligned position.