Essential Exercises for Health: Deadlifts

Core strength is key to any workout routine as it supports the body in every movement and position. The deadlift is a key core building movement. Deadlifting helps strengthen the entire back and the surrounding muscles, making deadlifts ideal for rehabilitative and preventative purposes.There are many reasons why the deadlift is a superior exercise, among those reasons are the minimal amount of equipment needed, the benefit of increasing core stability, grip strength, and cardio respiratory fitness, it activates more muscles than any other exercise (leading to increased muscle growth), it has real life application, and its a great exercise to measure strength. The main muscles used in the deadlift are the back, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, however, the arms, calves, chest, shoulders, and traps are also involved in the lift.

How to Perform

  • Approach the bar and take a stance with the heels 8-12 inches apart and the toes pointed out at 10 degrees. You should be very close to the bar, shins should be about 1 inch away.
  • Hunch over and grip the bar 2 inches outside your thighs with a double overhand grip.
  • Bend your knees slightly to engage your quadriceps, your shins should now be touching the bar.
  • Shove your knees out to the sides to engage your external rotators (side of the glutes) and stretch your adductors (inner thighs).
  • Push your hips back and lift your chest up to place your spine in extension (this will keep your back safe and improve force transfer).
  • Take a deep breath in and hold it while you pull the bar upward along your legs as your knees and hips extend until you’re fully erect.
  • Lower the bar in one straight path down by unlocking your hips and knees, not letting the bar come away from your legs or pull you forward.
  • Let the bar touch the floor and come to a complete stop.
  • Take a breath, tighten the core, and repeat until your have reach the desired number of reps.

How to Start

Your current fitness level will determine how you start. If you are inexperienced and new to working out you will start with lower volume (sets x reps x weight). Typically the more experienced you become with weight training the more volume is completed in your workouts. Here’s a general guideline.

Inexperienced

Times performed per week: 1

Sets: 1-3

Reps: 8-12

Weight: 50-75% of 1RM**

Some Experience

Times performed per week: 1-2
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 6-10
Weight: 50-75% of 1RM**

Experienced

Times performed per week: 1-2
Sets: 4-7
Reps: 1-8
Weight: 65-100% of 1RM**

Tips

  • Keep your arms straight the whole lift
  • Do not let the bar pull your forward during the movement. Stay balanced and keep the bar as close to your legs as possible.
  • Do not lean back or hyperextend at the top of the movement.
  • As the weight gets heavier you can improve your grip strength by switching your grip to a mixed grip (one hand facing forward and one facing backward).
  • You can also use high rep sets (15-20 reps) to increase muscular endurance and practice technique.
  • Always warmup before lifting heavier weights. Start with light weight and increase by 10-25lbs each set until you’re at your working weights.

**1RM = 1 repetition maximum