Some will argue that a squat is the king of all lifts, but I respectfully disagree. I believe deadlifts to reign supreme for reasons ranging from improving overall strength and body composition, to building a backside and improving posture.
There is no other exercise that requires much of the body to work extremely hard in unison in order to get the job done. High energy output plus external resistance is a dream come true for fat loss and physique change!
The deadlift absolutely torches the posterior chain, making it the perfect exercise to strengthen and develop both the glutes and hamstrings. Furthermore, deadlifting will strengthen the entire back and its surrounding muscles, making this lift great for rehabilitative, and preventative, purposes. In fact, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for building the core strength that supports all other major muscle groups.
Core strength (core pertaining to the central muscles of the body, i.e. lower back, glutes and the abdominal region) is a very important health component, in that it supports the body in almost every movement and position, and the deadlift is the key core strength building movement.
I’m a big fan of conventional pulls using the barbell, however, the beauty of the deadlift is that there are plenty of variations of it for you to try! Sumo deadlifts, Snatch grip deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, single leg Romanian deadlifts, and trap bar deadlifts, are all at your disposal.
The self-assurance that deadlifting (and really, any heavy lifting) gives a person is significant, because there is no grey area when it comes to getting stronger. You either are, or you aren’t, and unlike the scale or other subjective ways of measuring things, the weights don’t lie. When lifting a weight that you couldn’t 6+ months ago, you can’t help but feel good about yourself, and that ego boost carries over into our day-to-day life as well.
I pick things up and set them down — functional fitness at it’s best! Lifting objects from the ground, from a variety of angles, is enhanced through regular deadlifting. We pick stuff up off the floor all of the time in real life — our kids, boxes, groceries, you name it! Deadlifts help train our muscles to lift practically outside of the gym minimizing injury in real life too. Deadlifts actually have a real life application.
Deadlifts help to develop cardio-respiratory fitness. Like the squat, deadlifts will severely tax the cardio-respiratory system if done with enough intensity. This obviously has positive ramifications for cardiovascular health. In fact, high intensity deadlifts aerobically tax the body big time.
The benefits of consistent deadlifting with substantial weight are numerous, and you’ll notice improvements in both your physique and in your self-confidence.
HOW TO PERFORM THE DEADLIFT
The deadlift is a tricky exercise to master due to the high level of balance and coordination needed, and the injury risk if incorrectly performed. Therefore, the deadlift requires an intricate series of steps that need to be followed. A step by step guide to the standard deadlift follows:
FIRST STEP: Achieve the right stance
Assume a shoulder width stance, and grip the barbell so that the inner forearms touch the outside of thighs, and shins lightly touch the bar. Either an overhand or an under/overhand (one hand over, one hand under) grip can be used. The under/overhand grip is preferable in most instances.
SECOND STEP: Adjust posture
Fix spine in a neutral position (neither up nor down, but looking straight ahead), and place the hips down. Pulling in the lower abs will ensure a neutral pelvic position. Shoulders should be held back, squeezed tightly, and positioned over the bar - they should never be rounded.
Chest should be forward, not down. Before lifting the weight, tighten the shoulders and squeeze the glutes together to help generate power during the initial part of the movement.
THIRD STEP: Lift the weight
Grip hold of the bar tightly, and push with the feet. The legs must power the weight up. Hips and shoulders should ascend at the same time, while the hands are holding the weight in place. Toward the top of the movement, lock out by employing more upper body strength until the weight is at about the midway position of the upper thigh.
During the ascent phase, there should be an initial push with the balls of the feet followed by a transference of weight to the heels, as the bar passes the knees into the lock out position. Remember to keep the bar in contact with the body throughout the movement.
FOURTH STEP: Lower the weight
Reverse step three until the bar touches the floor, pause, and repeat until completion of set. Bear in mind that the weight should not forcefully hit the floor - it should be lowered in a controlled manner while tightness is maintained throughout the body. Do not rely on momentum to power the weight up on the second rep, as this will cause a jarring effect, which might contribute to spinal damage.
For the love of all things heavy, deadlift.
The deadlift is picking something up and putting it down. You do it a million times over the course of your life, so it’s important to learn how to do so properly. Even if you don’t have any desire to compete in powerlifting or to set a new gym record, you still need to be strong enough to lift things up off the floor without hurting yourself. It’s basically necessary for life. I’m sure this, in some roundabout way, means that deadlifts are imperative for living.