Deadlift is my favourite lift at the moment and I am aiming really to increase it over the next few months.
Here’s a clip of me doing some light deadlifts, trying to maintain good form throughout.
The deadlift is probably the simplest concept there is: pick a big weight up off the floor. I don’t need to tell you what functional uses that might have! It is also generally your heaviest lift, so it is a good way of expressing how strong you are. The kind of people who like to ask ‘how much do you bench?’ probably wouldn’t know a deadlift if it came up and hit them in the chin!
Deadlift works the whole body, particularly the back and the legs – the biggest muscle groups in the body. For guys who are bulking it is a superb exercise for stimulating muscle growth all over. And for anybody who wants to be strong, deadlifting is the way to do it. I love watching my deadlift figures go up.
If you could only do one exercise in your workout, deadlift would be a great choice as it hits the highest number of major muscles. Moreover, because it’s an intense whole body exercise, it is also an effective CV workout. My heartrate shoots up when deadlifting.
For me, the technique for deadlifting is a bit harder to master than the technique for the other two power lifts: squat and bench press. It is necessary to use both legs and back together to perform the lift, which I find requires concentration and good control of the central nervous system – i.e. the signals which your brain sends to your limbs and vice versa, to get them to do what you want. I like the fact that the technique is more challenging, it makes life interesting!
When I first started deadlifting I had a habit of bending a little at the elbows in the initial pull, but I’ve managed to get rid of that. It is important to keep your arms straight in the deadlift. But I still seem to have an issue with back flexibility in the deadlift. I don’t think it’s serious because I don’t feel any pain or excessive stiffness in the days after deadlifting, but I would like to get it spot on. It seems that rack pulls or partial deadlifts are a good exercise to do if you are having flexibility issues.
The deadlift is also useful for training grip at the same time. I always start with a pronated (overhand) grip and use this for as long as possible, until I can feel my grip starting to go. Then I switch to an alternate grip (one overhand and one underhand). Today, for example, I managed a pronated grip for all except my heaviest set.
No power lift seems to be without controversy but I venture to add for futher reading:
The Deadlift – Greg Glassman
Mastering the Deadlift – Eric Cressey (Part III with links to Part I and Part II)
Mark Rippetoe of Crossfit – A Rather Long Analysis of the Deadlift – he slightly disagrees with Dave Tate on the position of the shoulders at the start of the lift.
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