One of my distance clients from outside of the country asked a really, really good question in between his thesis working hours. The concept is so important that I thought it warranted its own article.
How do you know what positional errors to allow your client to make? How do you know what you should write in their program? You have to know about controlling extension.
His original prompt was:
What is actually the concept of controlling extension? Is it when someone is still extended and tries to not let it get worse during an exercise? Will this not feed into this pattern?
The RDL is the purest form of a hinging pattern and the easiest way to teach someone how to use their hips, glutes, and hamstrings independent of their spine. I would say that’s a pretty objective opinion of mine seeing as you’re minimizing complexity of the movement by all but eliminating the contribution at the knee. In terms of complex movements, it’s a pretty simple one.
I will start most people with an RDL, even if they already have lifting experience. Well, maybe especially if they have lifting experience because, often times, I need to re-teach their hip hinge.
Now, once you know this, I’m generally going to throw on more complexity. For example, when you can demonstrate a consistently (or semi-consistently) clean RDL pattern, I’m going to then have you RDL the weight to the knee, then squat the weight down to the floor.
Ta da! Then we have a deadlift pattern.
The RDL is a fundamental movement that I need all of my clients to know, and it’s arguably the easiest way to teach hip extension while keeping the acetabulum over the femoral head.