So I have had a few people ask me recently about the benefits of deadlifts. Ooooooh deadlifts how I love thee...let me count the ways...
K, so as one of my favorite lifts, maybe I am a little biased…. but if that’s the case, then so is the rest of the weight-lifting, strength training community because we’re all pretty much on the same page with this one. ;) There are quite a few reasons why I dig the deadlift but I’ll highlight just a few of the main benefits for you here.
By the way, fun fact - the current record for the deadlift is 1,015 lb (460.396 kg) by Benedikt Magnusson. Seriously. Holy crap. Anyway…
1. First and foremost it is a FULL body exercise.
If you’re going to lift weight for any reason - start incorporating a move that engages the majority of your body all at once. Maximal results with minimal work is generally a win-win right? The deadlift uses not only the obvious major movers in your hips and legs (glutes, hamstrings, little bit of quads, adductors & calves), you’re also going to be using the crap outta the erectors in your lower back, your abs, your obliques, every muscle in your forearms and fingers (for grip), your complete upper body and back (lats, pecs, upper, middle and lower traps, both rhomboids, all the deltoids, serratus), and…..ladies listen up!….your CORE. Which, let’s admit, is essentially just a buzzword for most of the muscles we just talked about above rolled into one. So BAAAAAAAAAAAM!
2. The deadlift is considered one of the best core and posterior chain exercises hands down.
Who cares? And what the hell is my posterior chain? You do. And your posterior chain is KEY in every functional movement out there from daily tasks to almost all your other lifts.
Think about it - bending over to pick up that cute little munchkin of yours; putting your 90 lb lab in the bathtub for his bath; helping that buddy of yours move his crap into yet another new apartment (we’ve all got “that buddy”). Once you learn how to properly engage the CORRECT muscles for these tasks, you’ll be protecting yourself from straining, pulling, throwing anything out. By then strengthening those muscles, you'll also preventing that from ever happening again. Not to mention you get to feel like a bada$$ doing it because these everyday loads become a cakewalk when you can pull well over your own body weight.
Also, incorporate deads into your strength program and you’ll notice other lifts improving as well. What’s the first pull of a clean? Deadlift. Your grip one of the limiting factors in your snatch? Deadlifts will help. They also drastically improve your hip extension which is key for explosive movements used in things like, oh, I don’t know, ALL Olympic lifts.
One other thing they’re great for is that people sometimes have a tendency to train their "mirror muscles", and the deadlift hits the ones you don't see (but everyone else does!) hard. You're welcome.
3. Lifting heavy is ESSENTIAL for a training program if you're trying to gain mass and/or muscle and the deadlift is one of the best and safest places to start.
Safety wise, they’re pretty solid. You’re never “under” the bar like you are with squats, bench presses or the overhead lifts. And as long as your form is good - this lift will be one where you can start pulling huge weight right off the bat. Good for the bod. And fun as hell.
Specifically for the guys, studies definitely show that lifting max weights will increase testosterone production in men. Which means you create more muscle fibers to recruit. Which mean you get stronger and bigger.
For the ladies, we don’t produce testosterone the way men do, but we DO get the benefit of building a killer booty and toned, lean legs. Oohhh yeah.
4. You're challenging the crap outta your central nervous system.
This is a good thing. Challenges make us grow. This will prep your body for almost all other weight training or any other fitness goal (athletics or sports) that you're working toward. Better deadlifts also make better vertical jumpers - so think basketball players, track & field, football, volleyball…
5. I personally attribute the deadlift as the MAIN reason I no longer have lower back pain. And tons of experts agree on that theory.
One of the top chronic pain issues with our society? Back pain. Specifically lower back pain. Over 47% of adults in the United States are currently experiencing some sort of chronic back/neck pain and an estimated 80% of the population will experience it some time in their life. Studies show that the occurrence of this issue has doubled since the 1990s. Worldwide, it is the single most reported cause of disability. Why? Because modern day humans are weak in the core, have terrible posture, sit all day and we use our BACKS (instead of that good ol’ posterior chain) to lift stuff which it is NOT designed to do. Deadlifts help correct all of that - so well that they’re even sometimes used in rehabilitation work. Good stuff.
6. It teaches you to be a badass.
No seriously. Lifting that heavy is as much a mental skill as it is physical. You're teaching the brain and body to work together to overcome the obstacle at hand. A successful deadlift program will help you be more aggressive in your other lifts and training. Who doesn't want to lift two to three their body weight and drop that shit like a boss?
Cassandra Shoneck is a Certified Personal Trainer (NASM), CrossFit L1 Trainer, and CrossFit Kids Coach as well as a health and nutrition NUT! If she's not working out, training clients or creating healthy new recipes in the kitchen, she can be found reading and studying the latest articles and research regarding general fitness, nutrition & food, and how the body processes it all. She can be contacted at Cassandra@LiveSoFit.com.
"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." ~Aristotle