Deadlifting, some may call it the King or Queen of exercises in the gym, some may even say that its the only exercise that you need to do in the gym.
Of course you still need to do other exercises in the gym, but the truth is that everyone should be doing some form of Deadlift because it works the whole body and has so many benefits, if listed some of them below:
They strengthen everything from your hand grip down to your calves
They favour your posterior chain for a healthier back, hips and glutes
They help against Osteoporosis in later life, strengthening your bones and skeleton against fractures and bone weakness.
When done correctly can give you a rock hard core and help those abs pop
Can help increase your speed, power and athleticism
Teaches you how to move your body better, something that we lack in adult life (we get lazy).
Higher Reps Sets of Deadlifts can build endurance and burn fat
Deadlifts will lessen the negative effects that come with high heels and bad posture
So lets look a bit closer at the Deadlift
The Deadlift is Awesome for Strength and Conditioning
Deadlifts should be at the top of your list for general strength and conditioning because they won’t negatively affect your joints, as long as you’re lifting with good technique. Taller people with long limbs, may find the compressive forces of squats uncomfortable, but most who complain of “bad knees” should be able to Deadlift without a problem. Furthermore, the posterior muscles you recruit will help stabilize joints and go a long way in rehabilitating any imbalances you might have.
So most of you will go onto Youtube following this article to check out how to do a Deadlift, and you’ll most likely see a guy, covered in wrapping and trying to smash out stupidly heavy weight. Please do not judge Deadlifts purely on those examples. People love posting videos of them going for 1 rep maxes (1RM) and you start to think that low-rep training is the only way to do Deadlifts but it’s not.
Like any other exercise in the gym you can do sets of ‘whatever you like’ you can do sets of 8 to 15 reps. Do not feel like you are being bullied into ‘going heavy’, you are you and you can try however you want. The Deadlift hits a lot of muscles and doing Deadlifts in a higher rep range can positively effect endurance and your muscles, along with burning fat.
The more muscle activated, the better your metabolism.
The postural muscles of the back recruited during Deadlifts respond particularly well to endurance-type training, given the nature of their job in the human body. Deadlifting with more time under tension than a quick double or heavy single can be a strong force to be reckoned with. Plus, it’ll improve your grip strength.
Deadlifts Help to Correct Your Pelvic Tilt
High-heels are a double-edged sword in terms of a healthy appearance. What may look awesome may also wreak havoc on a pelvis.
Olympic lifters train using lifting shoes, which usually have a heel elevation. It keeps their squats more quad-dominant and encourages a more vertical torso in the bottom position to receive the bar during a heavy clean or snatch.
This angle change allows the knee to travel further over the toe due to the adjusted pelvic positioning. Now, take this example and apply it to high-heeled shoes that are usually twice (or more) as high as Olympic lifting shoes.
The result causes an unhealthy back over-arch in the lumbar region of the spine, which result in tighter hips and dominant quads. The quads and hips get plenty of action on a daily basis, and accentuating their involvement can make matters worse.
Since the glutes and hamstrings tilt the pelvis posteriorly, Deadlifts can balance the forward momentum of the pelvis caused by long-term wearing of high heels. This should be enough of a reason for Deadlifts to be in a program, especially a women’s program.
Run faster, Jump Higher
Doing Deadlifts are a great exercise for training power and improving the transfer of force between lower body and the upperbody. Its been shown that completing Deadlifts as fast as possible (with correct technique) can build speed by improving your acceleration through the entire motion of the lift.
We know it’s not enough to build maximum strength with slow tempo controlled lifts if you want to be fast but you also have to train the body to use that strength powerfully.
So if your aim is to get faster at running, include deadlifts but around the 30% to 40% of your 1RM max, keep good technique and power through the motion for high reps.
Compared to exercises that typically train the ‘core’ and lower back, when using correct technique, properly trained Deadlifts are on another level because they activate all of those core muscles, the rectus abdominis, the obliques and the paraspinals of the lower back.
You say you have a lower back problem, could it be that you have a weak lower back and that is why it hurts so much while at work? When bending over? When picking things up? While just sitting in a chair, reading some article on the internet (like this one?)?
The muscle activity in the core found while completing a Deadlift is far better for training musculature of the lower back than nearly all other exercises, back extensions and the lunge. Typical core exercises such as a bridge exercise is great for activating the glutes but not the lowerback. So if you want to strengthen that lower back, you need to combine your Deadlifts with Squats,
The Squat requires greater activity of the lower lumbar region of the back than the Deadlift, but the Deadlift does produce more activation in the upper region of the lower back.
So train both, start with Squats when you are fresh and then move onto Deadlifts as the Squats will have warmed you up for pulling heavy stuff off the floor.
Master the Deadlift and You’ll Be Ready for Other Lifts
Deadlifts are the simplest and best way to start learning the hinge pattern, at least as far as load-bearing exercises are concerned. Getting the movement down will make you more competent with many other lifts as well.
CrossFit, along with the well-publicised conditioning programs of pro athletes and motivational commercials, is doing average people a disservice by using training methods that, in most cases, are way too advanced for regular people. They see it on YouTube or commercials and assume that they should be doing, too.
But in order to do any of these high-octane movements like Olympic lifting, jumping, high-metabolic cost kettlebell training, or even plyometric training, you first need to master the hinge pattern, as it’s the cornerstone of all of these activities.
The deadlift will open that door for you, then you can walk through it and take on the more advanced lifts. Like most top athletes, they will have started with the basics, so stop the ego at the door and get the basics right first.
Start out light. It’s going to help you understand the movement and stay true to form when things get real.
Choose a minimalistic shoe, or strip down to socks or bare feet if your gym allows it. The closer to direct contact your foot can have with the ground, the better.
A thick-soled shoe can do a lot to create instability and increase your pulling distance, both of which can be harmful to your lift.
If possible, use bumper plates. The lighter plates are the same diameter as the 25 kilogram plates. This allows you to keep the bar at the proper height off the ground.
If your gym doesn’t have bumper plates and you’re not ready for 25kg yet, put the loaded barbell on step platforms to recreate the correct elevation. The starting height of the bar should be somewhere around mid-shin.
Remember the basic cues, like keeping a flat back and heels on the ground. The Deadlift is a vertical pulling exercise, meaning that it’s of pinnacle importance that the bar travels in a straight line. Your setup should encourage that as much as possible.
This deadlift is done with a conventional stance. If you have concerns about your low back strength or have previously injured that area, try a medium sumo stance.
Instead of having your hands outside the shins, the shins go outside the hands with the sumo variation. In addition to keeping the low back free from flare-ups, the sumo is good for activating the glutes and inner thighs.
If you are still not sure, then I would recommend a techniques sessions with a qualified Personal Trainer. They will be able to help you get the technique right and make sure your form is correct. Value for your money in my eyes, especially if it keeps you off the injury table.
Laddering the Deadlift
If you’ve never trained the deadlift before, use a reserved approach by laddering your way up to a 10-rep effort.
Don’t immediately hit up 4 or 5 sets of 10 deadlifts with a moderate weight because you may give the body a shock you weren’t expecting, especially if you’ve got a history of injury or weakness in the lower back.
Instead, using a conventional stance and a fair estimate of your 10-rep max, perform just 2 reps for your first set. Rest around 2 minutes and then perform 3 reps for your second set. Rest again and then do 5 reps for your 3rd set. Finish off by doing a 4th set of 10 reps.
On subsequent workouts, substitute out the lowest number of reps, and replace it with another set of 10. It should look like this:
Workout 1: 2 reps, 3 reps, 5 reps, 10 reps
Workout 2: 3 reps, 5 reps, 10 reps, 10 reps
Workout 3: 5 reps, 10 reps, 10 reps, 10 reps
Workout 4: 10 reps, 10 reps, 10 reps, 10 reps
This will serve as a simple way to adapt to the movement. Properly learning an exercise is just as important as incorporating it into your training, so take your time.
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