Deadlifts, Squats and Bench Presses can get boring. Everyone loves those #GAINZ they achieve in the gym, but after a while, doing the same exercise is mind-numbing.
Adding Deadlift variations—specifically, the Windmill Deadlift—into your program can help you mix things up. Tony Gentilcore stressed the importance of rotary movements for transitional athletes (baseball and basketball players) by implementing rotary Deadlifts with a kettlebell. I love this variation, but since we don’t have heavy enough kettlebells, we use a barbell to create the Windmill Deadlift.
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Before we get into proper form, let’s examine the benefits of rotary movements from the Windmill Deadlift and other exercises like it:
There are three planes of movement: sagittal, frontal and transverse. Imagine yourself in the middle of a clock. The sagittal plane is when the joints of the body touch the numbers 12 or 6 (moving forward, and or behind) as when running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting and performing Chin-Ups. The frontal plane is when the joints hit 3 or 9 (side to side) as when doing Jumping Jacks, Pull-Ups and Military Presses. The transverse plane is when the joints touch any other time (1, 5, 10; rotational movements) as when performing Russian Twists, Sumo Squats, Chest Flies and Windmill Deadlifts.
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On a day-to-day basis, most athletes only perform movements in the sagittal plane, which could increase the chance of injury on the playing field, because sports are multiplanar (involving more than one plane of motion). Athletes need to implement movements that train all planes.
It optimally engages your core
During the Deadlift or Squat, your core musculature should stabilize your body. Whether because of dysfunctional breathing, poor posture or bad lifting techniques, many athletes do not optimally engage their core. Lifting with a weak or exposed core can increase the likelihood of injury. The Windmill Deadlift automatically engages the core.
It helps train transitional movements and deceleration
Athletes lift weights fast and explosively, but they often forget to control eccentric movements (i.e., the negative portion of lifts). How many people have you seen PR on a Deadlift, then aggressively drop the weight to the ground? A lot of injuries occur on the playing field because athletes are inept at slowing down efficiently. Top athletes can do it extremely well. NFL All-Pro Marshawn Lynch can run at max speed—and in the blink of the eye, he changes his momentum and sprints in another direction.
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It gets you out of the same old, same old
Let’s be honest: Doing Deadlifts four times a week can be boring. Even if you’re hitting PR’s, there comes a time in an athlete’s life when you want to change it up.
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The Windmill Deadlift
- Begin with light weight (30-65% of your 1RM)—i.e., a weight you can easily lift for 15 reps).
- Start with a barbell on your right side (perpendicular to your body position.)
- Initiate by hinging at the hips and rotating your torso to grab the bar.
- Brace your core by taking a big deep breath in, and lift the weight.
- When you extend your hips, the bar will rotate across the front of your body.
- Consciously apply anti-rotational forces to slow down (decelerate) the movement of the bar.
- When the bar gets to your left side, lower it to the floor. This is a half rep.
- Take a big deep breath in to brace your core, and repeat in the other direction.
- Aim for six to eight reps.
- The Windmill Deadlift should be used at the end of your workout routine.
Stay tuned for my next article on ten Deadlift variations. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Show Up Fitness, or stop by our Santa Monica or Dublin locations. Comment on topics for future articles you’d like to see.