Why Do Some Lifters Screw Their Feet Into the Floor During Deadlifts?

Have you ever seen videos of strength athletes screwing their feet into the floor before deadlifts and various compound movements? This is a cue that can hold different benefits and purposes, which will be dependent on the athlete’s rationale for doing so. Is this cue a must for strong pulls and other movements? No. Could it be useful? Yes.

This article will look at some of the theory behind doing this movement pre-lift, and how to know if it could be useful for you. Below we’ve listed some of the common rationales behind athletes and coaches doing/recommending screw the feet into the floor.

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[Are using too many cues hindering your lifting performance and progress?]

Screw the Feet Into the Floor

  • Cue an athlete to create a secure tripod foot position and stable base.
  • Activate posterior chain musculature. More often than not, this cue is used in sumo deadlifting when pulling slack out of the bar and activating/creating tension in the glutes and hamstrings, and in some cases, externally rotate the hips.
  • Create torque. This point is slightly misused in this exact scenario, and Bret Contreras has shared a great video covering this topic, which I’ll embed below.

Are these cues inaccurate for what their purpose is? Not at all, and like with all cues, it’s going to come down to one’s usage and understanding of them. Also, it’s worth mentioning that doing something like screwing the feet into the floor may just be apart of one’s setup with no particular benefit in mind.

But stemming from the above question about inaccuracy, these cues may not always do exactly what they’re being said to do, for example the torque mention in the third bullet point. What do I mean by that? Check out the video below where Bret Contreras explains his rationale on the topic. Keep in mind, he doesn’t say it’s not a useful cue, but it’s a cue that may not mean, or do exactly what it’s being said to do, aka create torque.

[‘Find your feet.’ Understanding the the most misused weightlifting cue?]

Should you screw your feet into the floor?

It’s nearly impossible to say whether one should do this cue without seeing their lifting form, or where they may be falling short. Below are a few reasons why one could employ this cue, or try it out to possibly improve their lifts.

  • Lack of feeling tight in the posterior chain when initiating a pull, aka lack of feeling like the glutes and hamstrings are “turned on”.
  • Feet feel unstable, or there’s a point during the movement when the foot isn’t in a tripod position (toes & heels coming off the ground).
  • Inadequate feeling of mentally being prepped to move weight due to legs, hips, and lower back not working in unison.

What’s most important before using any cue is understanding why you’re using it. It has to be something that improves your lifting and protects from injury. Screwing your feet into the floor could be useful if you find yourself lacking a stable base and adequate tension in the posterior chain, but it’s not a must for strong lifts.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image screenshot from @trackfu Instagram page. 

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