Deadlift Like a Toddler

It’s amazing to watch a toddler go about their day falling and bumping into things and still be happy as ever, with the occasional tears. The interesting part is how they tackle tasks. The methods they use are not practiced. They just do what comes to them instinctually and go from there. There are so many crossovers to the things that I ask of adults every day in the gym with a barbell to what kids naturally do. It turns out a body is a body and, no matter what age, we move the same. Life just seems to bring more knowledge and more inhibitions to free movement.

As we age not only do we develop motor patterns, both efficient and not so much so. We also develop muscle to help us move through space. Tasks that were never once possible become so, and tasks that were very possible fade away like train smoke in the distance. fullsizerender-54

My daughter does this move that is amazing to me. She stands up from the seated position with a sumo stance. Her heels are in front of her hips, and her knees are behind her ankles when she starts. This position takes on the same look as the end of a box squat if you sat on the floor. The hip flexibility is incredible. Sit down on the floor and give it a go if you don’t believe me. My hips wanna explode out of their sockets just watching her do this. Yet, she has been doing this on the daily to stand since I can remember. She always has something in her hand, so I guess it never came to mind to use her hand as help.

When she executes this move she thrusts her arms forward and drives her feet apart. And she is right up. If she is on a slippery surface, she will soon change her method.

This is exactly the concept behind a sumo deadlift and a box squat. (Keep in mind her need to round her spine due to function of the movement.) I want an athlete to drive their feet apart so that their hips come forward and bring their body vertical. We are challenging athletes to maintain stability in the trunk, while moving through increasing range of motion in their hips.

I go home at night and my daughter does this with no cueing. She also has incredible hip function, and will sit in then bottom of a squat for as long as she needs to. Boredom usually brings her out of her squat. Where as I can comfortably say that it is not boredom that would bring 99% of us out of the bottom of our squat.

What she is working on is her leg strength. As any child will do, they have to develop the ability to move on one leg. Walking up a flight of stairs is her big challenge. This would be like us doing repeated box step ups on 24” boxes. It would get pretty tiring. She does this every day, and the other day I saw her test herself. She put her right foot up on the next stair, and took no hand hold. She shifted her weight into her right hip, loading the joint before moving (smart move), and then gave it hell. She didn’t make the step, but she is on it. I am so proud of her. She has her challenges in front of her, too.

This fitness that we are all trying to achieve is a lifelong ordeal. We talk all the time about different ways to progress. The things that will never change in this game whether you are a toddler, a youthful athlete, or a seasoned athlete is the need for strength and the need for range of motion. The movement is in you. We just need to find the switch to turn it back on.

Gaining a little more strength may take away from some of the range you are able to maintain. Gaining some range of motion may not necessarily improve your strength. Just don’t devalue the ease of movement.


Danny Lesslie


1/11/17 WOD

Complete 4 rounds for quality of:

30 Russian Ball Twists

20 Reverse Hypers

15 Weighted Sit Ups


Complete the following for time:

2K Row