Squeezing the Glutes at the top of the Deadlift

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Squeezing the Glutes at the top of the Deadlift | Week 79 | Movement Fix Monday

This week I want to talk about when cues go wrong.

Coaching cues are extremely valuable, but like anything else, can be taken too far.

When deadlifting and squatting, we always want to engage the posterior chain and use the glute muscles to control the hip joint and create hip extension when driving out of the hole. The commonly used verbal cue to create this hip extension is 'squeeze your butt'.

But does squeeze your butt, or any other verbal cue for that matter, always lead to the actual thing happening that you wanted the athlete to do?

The mistake that I see 'squeeze your butt' leading to is an excessive squeeze of the butt at the top of a deadlift or a squat that leads an athlete to round their back at the top of the lift.

At the top of a deadlift or a squat you should have a neutral back position with muscle activation to support the load you are handling. You need the abs, the low back muscles, the glutes, etc to be working to maintain integrity.

But squeezing your glutes at the top of the lift often isn't done as an isometric, but rather to posteriorly tilt the pelvis and cause the butt to 'tuck under'.

The glutes will act as a hip extensor when the muscle moves the femur around the pelvis, but it can also move the pelvis around the femur, creating low back rounding as a result.

So what do we do? You have to learn how to squeeze your butt at the top isometrically! Meaning, the muscle hardens but it doesn't cause the joints to move.

The muscles will act to extend the hip on the way up, but the finish is an isometric in neutral. That is key.

Frequently it just takes a matter of minutes to get an athlete to understand this and prevent the tucking under. I like to just get someone in standing to feel what it's like to squeeze the butt without moving their back. Then progress to a dowel to feel this finishing position at the top of the lift and then you can start loading it back up re-programmed.

So, is squeezing your butt at the top of a deadlift or squat wrong? No! We just want the glutes to stabilize the pelvis at the top of the lift and not cause a tuck-under.

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