You might have heard some people say, “squatting and deadlifting are all the core work you need.” Despite how a strong core is essential to these compound movements, EMG studies have shown that don’t do much in terms of muscle stimulation surrounding the anterior core. Having exercises that directly stimulate the abdominals can be useful in training, but isn’t always practical for everyone considering time constraints. Luckily enough, movements like the Jefferson deadlift allows for one to hit the core hard without neglecting other major muscle groups.
Back in the old days, strongmen would employ a variety of “odd” lifts to make themselves stronger in every conceivable way. Some examples include the standing barbell side bend, one-arm barbell snatch and the bent press. The Jefferson deadlift is no exception, although not being as ancient as the other exercises.
What makes the Jefferson deadlift stand out both as a deadlift variation and a core exercise is its focus on asymmetry, rotation hip hinging and heavy loading. You won’t get this from regular deadlifts and ab wheel roll-outs! Overall, it’s a great way to build strength, power, core stability and hip durability.
Performing it will take some getting used to. Basically, it’s a deadlift where you straddle the bar between your legs instead of having them behind it. You’d still want your centre of gravity to be directly over the middle of the barbell, so make sure you position yourself accordingly. Place one foot in front of the barbell, leaving the other behind and flared out to allow for sufficient hip abduction. Keeping a neutral spine, grab the barbell with your normal deadlift grip and drive yourself up through your heels.
How wide your stance is will be determined by your hip anatomy and current mobility; use what allows you to perform a proper hip hinge without having your knees collapse inwards. As you get more confident with this lift, you can choose to choose to go heavy ashow you would with regular deadlifts, but using lighter weight for more repetitions and time under tension will allow it to function better as a core builder.
Your basic deadlift cues apply to Jefferson deadlifts as well: keep a neutral spine, generate tension throughout the entire posterior chain, and have your knees, hips and chest rise together. You might find that you prefer having one leg in front instead of the other, and that’s completely okay. The Jefferson deadlift can be easily tweaked to suit different individuals, so feel free to experiment with it!
Nuzzo, J. L., McCaulley, G. O., Cormie, P., Cavill, M. J., McBride, J. M. (2008), “Trunk muscle activity during stability ball and free weight exercises”, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(1), 95-102