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Obnoxious Question about Bilateral Exercise Selection and Safety (Mostly Deadlifting)

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  • sjalbrec
    replied
    Hi, you said you wanted a discussion, so I have a few more thoughts.

    In your OP, you site a lot of evidence (oberst, thrall, bbm forum comments) of people who participate in barbell sports talking about LBP. What I've come to understand is that non-specific LBP is a human condition, not something unique to athletes. The percentage of LBP in the general population isn't different from those who participate in barbell training. Barbell training doesn't increase your chances of LBP. Check out a CrossFit forum, a soccer mom forum, or a cooking forum and you'll find a certain percentage bringing up their LBP.

    As far as exercise selection, I'm 100% unbiased. Do whatever you enjoy and will keep doing. One thing I can guarantee, your goals and training will change over time. Enjoy the journey, etc.

    Leave a comment:


  • Austin Baraki
    replied
    Jordon - for someone like me who has no interest in competitive powelifting and more into general strength and conditioning, is there anything wrong with programming in a roughly 50/50 bi-lateral/unilateral split on the main movements?
    Nothing wrong with this, since it seems to fit your goals.

    Leave a comment:


  • Khay
    replied
    I’ve been wanting to post something along similar lines. Glad I didn’t as it was a great question from the OP.

    Although I see one or two alternative options for unilateral exercises on the various BBM templates that I’ve got, I’m still a bit surprised at the dominance of bi-lateral as the default option.

    Jordon - for someone like me who has no interest in competitive powelifting and more into general strength and conditioning, is there anything wrong with programming in a roughly 50/50 bi-lateral/unilateral split on the main movements?

    I’ve been doing this myself and although the weight numbers on the main compounds are probably not going up as much it potentially could be, I’m feeling much less beat up and it does feel more well rounded, at least to me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jordan Feigenbaum
    replied
    Originally posted by sjalbrec View Post
    Sure, deadlifts may not be necessary, but they are cool as f*ck because (for most people) they will be your strongest lift. Tell me deadlifts aren't fun after the first time you pick up 500 lbs!

    While technique can vary, I say proper "breathing & bracing" and locking out at the top with your glutes (not your upper back) are the keys to better avoiding those occasional minor back tweaks.
    I agree that they can be fun, but that's subjective right? If we're just going by weight lifted = enjoyment, folks may prefer a leg press to the deadlift.

    I wouldn't agree with your last sentence for injury risk reduction.

    Leave a comment:


  • sjalbrec
    replied
    Sure, deadlifts may not be necessary, but they are cool as f*ck because (for most people) they will be your strongest lift. Tell me deadlifts aren't fun after the first time you pick up 500 lbs!

    While technique can vary, I say proper "breathing & bracing" and locking out at the top with your glutes (not your upper back) are the keys to better avoiding those occasional minor back tweaks.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jordan Feigenbaum
    replied
    RVR,

    Thanks for the post and thoughtful questions. A few thoughts:

    1) Exercise selection for trained individuals should be specific for the sport, when applicable. The deadlift does not need to be performed for anyone save for barbell sport athletes.
    2) The risk/benefit of any exercise or mode of exercise cannot be discussed outside of its programming.
    3) The "bilateral deficit" is inconsistent depending on task and does not appear to mean much in terms of practical management, e.g. "this thing is sometimes observed so we should program this way even though it doesn't necessarily correlate to any specific outcome." In other words, so what?
    4) Existing data does not support the assertion that avoiding the squat or deadlift (and related variations) reduce LBP incidence. Sedentary individuals and machine-based exercise programs have similar (if not higher in some studies) rates of LBP.
    5) I addressed your claim that the 2-4 injuries/1000 hr doesn't account for severity and longevity in the other thread, which is not true (and explained where we discuss this). The majority of injuries documented during RT resolve within less than 2 weeks. Severity and impact of symptoms are accounted for in the definition of injury in most, but not all studies.
    6) The causes of injury during exercise seem to be most related to programming, training history, psychosocial factors, and bad luck.


    You may find this useful:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StDKHbqhG64

    Leave a comment:


  • Obnoxious Question about Bilateral Exercise Selection and Safety (Mostly Deadlifting)

    So I'm "going to go there", but I'm genuinely interested in discussion here:

    I'm sure people here have heard the infamous clip of Robert Oberst talking about the risk/reward of the deadlift. Obviously anyone that powerlifts is on board with deadlifting, as are most people who strength train. That said, I don't think Oberst was entirely wrong. Deadlifting -- at least strength-oriented deadlifting (high intensity and low rep range) -- is not that common in most sport-specific S&C programs. I worked predominantly with hockey players back in the day (about 6 years ago) and the going programming for hockey, football, MMA, and sports not requiring deadlifting simply didn't have it programmed. Oberst also mentions talking to numerous other strongmen who essentially agreed that deadlifting is somewhat "risky" in comparison to other lifts.

    The bilateral deficit is one reason many coaches opted for RFESS and one leg SLDL's instead, and in place of deadlifting was trap-bar deadlifting as it's relatively easy to execute without much technique coaching, can be easily loaded and didn't seem to correlate commonly with injury/pain/training disruption/whatever we want the operational definition to be. Similarly, Mike Boyle wrote an article about eliminating backsquats from his hockey player programming and seeing back pain complaints substantially decreasing with no detriment to their sport (in this case, mainly hockey). I don't think I ever saw an athlete with an incidence of low back pain in the gym when we worked with hockey players, and the players who did have a history of low back pain only had it exacerbated by their sport, not by lifting. While we didn't have them doing pure strength-oriented lifting all off season, many were easily able to load up 185+ per leg for reps on both RFESS and single leg SLDL without issue, the stronger athletes pulling 225. There were quite a few other coaches who followed suit. I realize this isn't a formalized study but I'm also not inclined to a-priori throw out private data collection simply because it's not formalized.

    Of course that's mostly hearsay/observation, and so is this, but that's most of what I have to go on. Anecdotally, looking through video comments on Alan Thrall's video on back tweaks, looking at rehab advice threads on this forum and others, etc, there is a substantial number of lifters who talk about having hurt their back deadlifting (as well as backsquatting). Many people talk about their back pain improving or going away with SS programs or backsquatting/deadlifting in general, but few of those people seem to be those whose LBP's onset was during deadlifting or backsquatting, or at least didn't return until after a substantial hiatus. I'm aware of the incidence rate of injury in powerlifting (2-4 per 1000), and that the highest number seems to be shoulder injuries, but low back injuries are still very high on the list, as they are for strongman, weightlifting and other bilateral and dynamic strength sports. While 2-4 per 1000 doesn't sound that bad, the incidence doesn't account for severity or longevity of symptoms, and I can personally attest that low-back pain (both specific and non-specific) is a great deal more debilitating than any of the other injuries I've had.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming they are "dangerous" or anything similar, and there are an awful lot of questions the above assertions raise assuming they're true. I'm also familiar with BBM's writings on LBP as well as the associated literature on the topic. But it's also hard to ignore the observation that heavy bilateral lifts -- in this case, deadlifting specifically -- seems to put greater stress on weaker structures than do unilateral lifts.

    Des anyone here think there is any case to be made for alternative exercise selection in specific circumstance, i.e. no consistent coaching, history of LBP, etc? If someone is interested in being strong but not at the expense of potential longevity, is it "worth it" if there's no specific desire to deadlift or compete?

    If yes (or no for that matter), what seems to be the common issue with heavy bilateral lifting? Is it the technicality of the lift? The potential for fatigue with "high system load"? The fact that most deadlifters are testing maxes and pushing PRs? Does it just come down to genetic susceptibility, much like non-specific LBP? Is there any literature on this specifically?

    I know the primary predictor of injury is load management, but at least anecdotally, it seems to be difficult for many people to correctly gauge the relative load-bearing capabilities of their backs compared to their legs in these lifts. I know that if I push an RFESS, the main limitation will be in my legs and it's very easy to gauge RPE. In the case of my personal back injuries/tweaks, both were during a from-the-floor deadlift pattern and neither were at max effort. It may be easy to contest here that hey, it just happens (and given the prevalence of LBP in people around me it's obviously true), but I'm also not convinced that the two times I've tweaked my back more seriously (meaning significant time off training) since my initial army injury were both during from-the-floor deadlift patterns.

    Would love to be wrong here by the way. I would love to rest assured that future LB tweaks and injuries are just as likely as any other and that marching on toward a deadlift goal a few years down the line is as safe as opting for the single leg variation, but I'm admittedly hesitant and not really convinced I'm "built for it" at this point.
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