Why Do The Jefferson Deadlift? (Plus All The How’s You Need To Know!)

​Have you been doing the conventional deadlift forever? Maybe it’s time to change things up by trying out the infamous Jefferson deadlift! But, why do the Jefferson deadlift and what is it exactly? The answers are just waiting for you!

The Jefferson deadlift, Jefferson squat, Jefferson lift or the straddle lift is a classic movement named after strongman Charles Jefferson. As the last name suggests, you straddle the bar with one foot in front of it and the other at the back while doing this lift.

Read on to find out how to do the Jefferson deadlift properly and the reasons why you should start doing it right now!

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How To Do The Jefferson Deadlift Correctly

Jefferson Deadlift

Since the Jefferson deadlift is already so unusual, there’s actually no “perfect” form to do it. It is mainly just about you finding the best and strongest leverage for your own body. Everyone can have a different approach. Simply put, here are the basics and also some tips in doing this lift.

The Basics

1. Straddle The Bar

For this step, simply step over the bar. Straddle it with shoulder width or slightly wider space between your feet.

Mix it up by doing it with your left foot forward and right foot forward interchangeably for equal amounts of time. This is so your body stay relatively balanced. You can do this by simply alternating your sets.

However, this may not be as safe if you have scoliosis or any other serious body asymmetry condition. In this case, it is best to train a dominant side more, whichever feels more comfortable for you. Of course, that is after your doctor gives you a go signal.

In any situation, ensure that your spine is maintained in a relatively linear position. This means that you are not twisting or rounding too much away from the neutral position.


2. Grab The Bar Under Your Shoulders

Do a vertical grip under your shoulders. Make sure that your grip is not much wider than shoulder width, but not too narrow either.

Hold on to the bar with any grip you find comfortable and what best works for you. Some people grab the bar with both palms facing backward, but you can also grab it with one facing forward. Experiment with grips that work for different muscle groups differently.


3. Stand Up With The Bar

As you start pulling and raising the bar up, make sure your knees do not buckle, collapse or cave in towards the midline. This prevents deformation, injury, and significant pain.

Make sure that the weight is distributed and centered equally between your two feet. Avoid locking your knees before you finish the movement with your hips. This not only makes the position extra awkward but endangers your hips as well.

Similar to the trap bar deadlift, the Jefferson lift should be more like a squat than a hinge. Leaning too much forward in a hinge motion will not always give you a good leverage.

Here Are A Few Tips I Can Give You For Prime Results

Jefferson Deadlift
  • Play With The Position

As I have said earlier, try mixing up things and explore which leg position or grip is most useful and comfortable for you.

  • Adjust The Repetitions And Load Weights Now And Then

Try doing the Jefferson deadlift with light weights, heavy weights, few repetitions and higher repetitions, as well as everything in between. This variety can maximize the benefits and also keep things interesting and challenging

  • Do Not Ever Lift The Heel Of Your Back Foot Lift From The Floor

This will put more weight on the front leg. It can cause you to lose your balance since your feet are not firmly placed on the ground.

  • Do Not Position Your Foot Too Far Back Behind You

Adjusting so that your feet are more aligned with each other and keeping a good space between them will result in better results.

  • Do The Jefferson Lift For A Few Weeks Before Going Back To Conventional Deadlifts

This is useful especially when you experience back pains doing the latter.

This is also great in overcoming strength plateaus in the conventional lift. It allows you to develop strength in a different stance and helps you through the plateau.

Why Do The Jefferson Deadlift?

Jefferson Deadlift

Now that you know how to do it let’s get down to the central question: Why do the Jefferson lift? The quick answer is that it is great for developing core stability, power, strength, and hip durability. So, it should be included in your routine if you’re a serious strength buff or athlete.

However, let me explain more: As weird as it looks, the Jefferson deadlift also offers extraordinary benefits. Check them out in the list below!

  • Asymmetrical Strength

Dave Dellanave is a strength coach and the world record holder for the Jefferson deadlift. According to him, the lift offers asymmetry, hip hinging, heavy loading and rotation all at once. He said that this asymmetrical position is very helpful. This is particularly the case for people who struggle with movement issued or pain in doing the symmetrical or conventional deadlifts.

  • Anti-Rotational Strength

Dellanave also pointed out that the lift is like a trap bar deadlift, which involves rotation. This makes it multiplanar, developing not only asymmetrical but also anti-rotational strength.

Since your feet are staggered, your torso naturally tends to face the same direction your toes point. It encourages you to engage the stabilizers deep in your core to keep your chest forward-facing.

The incorporation of multiplanar movements improve your overall strength and helps reduce injury.

  • Reduced Shear Force On The Lower Back

During a conventional deadlift, most of the weight is placed on the bar, so the support base is smaller than the Jefferson deadlift. Although the sumo stance has a wider base, the weight still lies behind the bar. This forces you to lean and increase shear forces on your back.

Using the Jefferson deadlift, your center of gravity lies directly above the load, and the feet position gives you a large, robust support base. This allows you to position the spine more vertically. This, in turn, lessens the shear forces and increases the compressive forces.

This makes the exercise much more gentle and easier for people with lower back problems, much like a weightlifting belt or back brace.

  • Strength Outside Sagittal Plane

The Jefferson deadlift also encourages you to open your knees. This makes for a wider stance for squats and builds a rotational motion range.

In other words, you are forced beyond the purely sagittal plane or left-to-right movement pattern. This action limits your gains and can dominate if not addressed immediately.

  • Allows Heavy Loading

The heavy load is necessary according to Dellanave. According to him, heavy deadlifts are thought by most to be balanced by light, single-leg kettlebell deadlifts. However, it does not work that way. The huge benefit of the ability to lift heavy loads is that it stabilizes your whole torso.

One drawback is the strain on the shoulders, but a shoulder brace can probably help with that.

Conclusion

I’m so excited for you to try the Jefferson deadlift. Remember, start light and work your way up. Keep changing grips and feet position, and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of this lift in no time.

Do you have any other questions, suggestions, or comments? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below!

Emily Brathen
 

Hi there! I'm Emily Brathen. I am a fitness and yoga instructor and a mom of one. Despite my hectic schedule, I still find time for doing the thing I love most - fitness and yoga. I love doing and teaching fitness and yoga because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health and fitness back into their own hands.

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