For the past decade I've heard fitness experts, influences, and workout junkies all claim that you want to squeeze the glutes at the top of your deadlift. Heck I've even said it myself during group fitness classes and working with my athletes.
The thought behind the top squeeze is that you are fully activating the glute muscles with that last little squeeze. However, I've changed my mind with this statement and I no longer perform it nor tell my athletes to do perform the squeeze.
Here's why 👇
Your body doesn't need the extra squeeze to work the glutes especially in the position it's in. Being upright at the end of your deadlift lifting phase, the glutes have already worked a great amount to help you lift the bar and weight. The extra little gripping effect is not going to add a significant amount of muscle recruitment to outshine the work they just did. So the work is insignificant.
It may create the potential for you to hyperextend the lumbar spine (lower back) instead of simply squeezing the glutes. I've seen this misinterpretation many times. Now our bodies are resilient but why out extra force and tension on the lumbar spine if it is unnecessary? Especially an area that is well known for injuries.
It can increase pelvic floor symptoms. By continuously gripping those butt cheeks to a squeeze, your pelvic floor might not be so happy. Clenching your buttocks is already a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction, now adding this motion with extra load (the bar and weight) doesn't seem too advantageous for me. Additionally, if you already have a hypertonic pelvic floor then you're really going overboard and calling out those symptoms to be invited to the party of life. We want to minimize having pelvic floor symptoms and for this reason alone, I do not recommend the butt squeeze.
Now you might say, "but Dani I don't notice anything when I do it." And that might be true. I didn't for years. And you are more than welcome to continue to do it IF your heart desires.
But, if you're doing it just because someone told you it's going to maximize your strength gains, then I would look the other way. Your glutes do a tremendous amount of work and it's sad to think that a little butt squeeze is going to be what tops off it's strength 🤔 let's give the glutes a bit more credit than that.
Thoughts on this? I'd love to hear them !
Your Pre/Postnatal Strength Coach - Dani Jones