Scan the gym floor and you’ll see plenty of guys deadlifting. However, few if any of them probably began with the warmup the activity requires. Prepping to move massive weight takes more than some lunges and knee pulls. It requires proper glute activation—loosening up tight muscles in the butt, then strengthening them before lifting.
“If your glutes are not activated, you are more prone to injury, or compensating and overusing other muscle groups,” says Ben Wegman, an instructor at Fhitting Room in New York City.
Deadlifting injuries may occur because the glutes—the biggest muscle group in the body—aren’t working to their max potential. A lazy butt can force the body to rely on the quad muscles, which puts unnecessary pressure on knee joints. And not being grounded in your glutes can cause instability, leading to calf strain or ankle rolls. Just as important, waking up the glutes helps you feel stronger and move more weight—part of the fun of deadlifting.
Getting ready is a two-step process. Start with some simple, unweighted moves, like bridges, bodyweight squats, and clamshells.
Then get hold of some rubber. “Resistance bands help you activate your glutes by keeping all three major muscles in your butt—gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus—firing simultaneously,” Wegman says. The band forces the glutes to work extra hard to keep the knees wide and tracking over the feet. When you graduate to the barbell, those but muscles are primed to fire.
Place a band around thighs, just above knees. Using a moderate (30-40 pound) kettlebell, do 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps of deadlifts. Do leg swings or high knees between sets. Then remove the band and load up a barbell
Doing this warmup consistently will improve your deadlifts. And we best you’ll see fellow gymgoers join the resistance, too.