Deadlifts are easily my favorite exercise. Just you and the bar that is taunting you to pick it up and then when you succeed there is a feeling of accomplishment that is hard to find in any other lift. While it certainly seems to be a simple lift when looking at it, learning and executing the proper form is crucial.
So why should you deadlift? Well for starters, it is training a pattern that we use quite often – picking something up off the ground. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your back is in great condition the next time you have to move furniture? I thought so. The deadlift actually got its name in ancient Rome, when low ranking soldiers would lift their fallen comrades onto wagons to be buried later. They were in essence, “lifting the dead”.
Anyways, here’s a look at the areas targeted when a deadlift is performed:
Basically your whole body right? While it can be thought of as mainly working on your lower back and hamstrings, you can see that there is much more at work when you perform the lift. The fact that it activates so many muscles can help you to identify weaknesses in your kinetic chain and can actually help to strengthen those areas. Have poor posture? Deadlift. While deadlifts won’t completely fix your poor posture by itself, it will help it tremendously.
Having a strong back is never a bad idea, especially with how prevalent lower back pain is these days. When done correctly, deadlifts are a great preventative measure for lower back pain. “But I started deadlifting and now I developed lower back pain!” If that’s your case, I highly recommend getting your form checked by a trainer as this shouldn’t be the case. If you have previous lower back injuries, then I would check with a physician prior to beginning to deadlift.
Another underrated benefit of the deadlift is that you will develop a very strong core as you progress. The intra-abdominal pressure required to support your spine and keep it in a neutral position is substantial as you progress in weight. This is achieved through the Valsalva maneuver (basically trying to exhale without letting any air escape). Your abdominals play an important part in creating this pressure.
It is for this reason that I recommend my clients to stay away from lifting belts until lifting weight that is 85% of 1RM and above, as I believe in increasing their ability to create that intra-abdominal pressure unassisted.
So there you have it, if you aren’t deadlifting yet give it a shot!
Have a deadlift story or question you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!