Before heavy lifts that require the recruitment of multiple large muscle groups, it is ideal to get those muscle groups activated….turned on, ready to go, so to speak. Furthermore, to get the most benefit from these movements, really think about the muscles that you’re trying to engage. Get that mind muscle connection going!
Here are 3 Activation Exercises (video below) that are great before deadlifts or heavy kettlebell swings:
1) Band resisted deadlifts - require you keep your lats and core engaged, while hip hinging.
Keys to think about here are: pushing your butt back towards the wall behind you, pulling the PVC towards your body the entire time, and at the top of the movement bracing the core and squeezing the quads and glutes. Create full body tension.
2) Band lat pulldowns - require you to maintain the hinge position while activating the lats and core.
Keys to think about here are: bracing the core, and pulling your elbows into your sides, squeeze for a second or two at the bottom, focusing on the contracting the lats and bracing the core.
3) Dead bugs - require you to keep your back flat while your arms and legs are moving, stretching and then contracting the entire core.
Keys to think about: push your belly button into the floor, reach your fists towards the ceiling.
Reach your arm and opposite leg out, and then bring them back in, and alternate. For the purpose of getting ready for the deadlift, I focus on inhale while I extend out, and exhale while I bring my arm and leg back into neutral, contracting my core.
I recommend 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps for all movements.
Remember to move slow and under control, while really thinking about what you’re doing.