"Ask the"Ask the Coach" is the column in which Wolfgang Unsöld answers your questions. The book of the same name will be released on February 13, 2017. You can pre-order it right here on Amazon.
Question: What should the gaze position and thus the position of the cervical spine be like when deadlifting? In photos of you, I always see that the person exercising is looking forward and slightly overstretching the cervical spine. However, I have been told several times that it is better to keep the cervical spine neutral, is that so?
WU: Correct in theory. But not in practice. A slight extension of the cervical spine - cervical spine for short - as demonstrated in the picture, makes it easier to maintain the optimal position of the lumbar spine - lumbar spine for short. Since the lumbar spine absorbs the primary and above all significantly higher forces in relation to the cervical spine when deadlifting, I prefer an optimal position to this. A neutral cervical position is for guys deadlifting two 40-pound plates. Anyone who lifts heavy overstretches the cervical spine slightly in order to maintain the optimal position of the lumbar spine and thus move heavier loads more safely. Thousands of weightlifting videos, most notably Pyrros Dimas, Ilya Ilyn, Dmitry Klokov and Naim Suleymanoglu, provide impressive evidence of this clinical gem.
Pyrros Dimas demonstrates the technique of the power clean (move to a standing position)
Ilya Ilyin with the clean and clean jerk world record (242kg in the 105kg weight class)
Dmitry Klokov - cleans with 215kg in training
Naim Suleymanoglu – “The Pocket Hercules” – at 180 kg clean & clean and jerk (in the 60 kg weight class)
Good luck with optimizing your deadlift technique!
If you have a question for the Ask the Coach column, post it in the comments below and with a little luck your question will be selected for an upcoming post or the next Ask the Coach book.
Image: YPSI Coach Goran Sirovina in the starting position of the LH deadlift with a slight hyperextension of the cervical spine.