The deadlift is one of the best movements for increasing overall muscle mass and strength. For lots of bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, not to mention powerlifters, it’s their favorite exercise and if asked if they had to choose to do just one exercise for the rest of their lives, almost all of them would answer the deadlift. If you’re in doubt about what to train on any particular day and don’t have a plan, then you can’t go wrong with the deadlift. It trains almost every muscle in your body and saves you time, which you would otherwise spend on 5 different machines to train each muscle separately.
Learning how to deadlift is not that difficult, however for some, it may take some time to get used to the movement. The simplest way in which you can explain how this movement is done is telling the lifter to pick the barbell off the ground, then put it back down. However, if you want to get into specifics, the deadlift consists of several movement patterns, which can be mastered to lift the weight as efficiently as possible.
Why should you deadlift?
Well, first of all, they are hard to do. Sometimes brutally hard. If you are doing them the right way, you will produce lots of tension in your body and your whole body and your heart will be extremely taxed. The sheer amount of muscle you will need to engage just to pick a barbell off the ground cannot be compared to any other movement. The squat comes really close, as well as the overhead press and the bench press, but not as nearly as the deadlift.
They are essential to building a strong and aesthetically pleasing physique. They help build incredible strength, athleticism and will make you an all-around bad-ass. Not everyone can lift incredible pounds off the ground and not be a hulking beast. You might ask why this is the case?
That’s because compound movements which engage multiple muscle groups at the same time are unmatched in building strength, muscle and using energy. These are the things that will change your physique most efficiently and efficiency is what will give you results most quickly. People nowadays want results faster and the best way to get results in fitness is to train smart, not necessarily harder. The deadlift fulfills these two criteria perfectly.
So, let’s recap: when an exercise involves multiple muscle groups simultaneously, we call that exercise a compound exercise. Since multiple groups of muscles are working together to lift the weight, you need to create incredible tension in every muscle fiber. This requires a tremendous amount of energy.
The deadlift involves the following muscle groups: hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors (lower back), abs, calves, lats, hip muscles, quads, upper back, shoulders, forearms and many smaller stabilizer muscles. One could argue that some upper body muscles like the chest get engaged as stabilizers since they have to be maximally contracted to support the torso while pulling the weight.
When you exert yourself on a heavy deadlift, the cascade of hormones that is released has no match. The body becomes flooded with the primary male hormone testosterone, as well as growth hormone. Of course, this doesn’t last very long, but maintaining such a hormonal environment can help tremendously in building incredible strength and muscle size and shed fat at the same time.
There’s also something to be said about the primal feelings that come with a heavy deadlift. Yes, I did use the word primal. But getting in touch with the part of you that has to seriously overcome great fear, fight against what feels like an immovable object, and experiencing the joy that comes with hitting a goal you’ve been working tirelessly towards is good for your damn health.
There’s no other feeling that matches that of walking up to a bar loaded down with plates, pulling the shit out of it, and knowing that you just fought gravity. And won.
That’s me. Fighting gravity and winning. There are a few things I could do to clean up the setup and pull. At the time that was a big pull for me though. Now that weight is quite a bit easier to get.
Knowing all of this is great. Deadlifts can help build an ass that gets plenty of attention as you walk by, and everyone loves that.
What are some of the other benefits?
1. Deadlifts build overall total body strength better than any other exercise
2. Deadlifts help shed body fat thanks to the dual wielding lightsaber of heavy lifting. Your cardiovascular system works hard, so you burn calories. You build strength and muscle, which means you burn more calories at rest. Thanks to the loss of body fat, and in the increase in muscle size you look double jacked.
3. Deadlifts improve your posture (stronger lower back, ass, and hips lead to better postural alignment)
4. Doing Proper deadlifts prevents bad lower back issues later in life.
5. Your prip strength goes through the roof. Not like you fellas out there need it.
6. You become the most badass person at your gym if everyone else is scared of heavy weights
7. Deadlifts double as cardio, because your body has to work so hard to get oxygen during a heavy set of deadlifts.
8. The short-term hormonal effect of deadlifting is unmatched. This is one of the key reasons deadlifts can bring physique changes unlike anything else. Hormonal change for the good = physique change for the good.
9. Deadlifts help with running faster and jumping higher, something every athlete wants.
10. Deadlifts help with hip extension (hip thrusting) something your sex partner wants you to work on.
11. Nothing compares to the rush you get of completing a heavy ass set of deadlifts. It’s good for your mental health and sanity. Think I’m kidding? Next time you’re stressed to the max go pick up heavy shit and tell me how you feel.
12. It’s the most functional exercise known to man. Ever pick something up off the ground? Then you’ve deadlifted. Deadlifting makes you better at that.
In the ranking of exercises, there is no one greater than the deadlift. Not the squat (though that’s a close 2nd), not the bench, not the curl. But continually telling you that wouldn’t do any good in convincing you to go deadlifting like actually doing it and reaping the benefits. Do yourself a favor. Go out, pick up a barbell, pick that shit up, put it down, and repeat.