Top 5 Reasons to Deadlift
Top 5 Reasons to Deadlift
A breakdown of how one of the best exercises on the planet can help you gain strength and build muscle when added to your workouts.
For athletes, the deadlift is one of the most basic and beneficial movements in strength training. But can something as straight forward as picking up and putting down weight really take you to the next level? Absolutely, as this full body lift will increase your strength and lean muscle masswhile enhancing other aspects of your training as well. Core caving during squats? Add deads. Grip failing during lifts? Add deads. Poor posture in general? Add deads.
While I don’t expect any of the following reasons to completely blow your mind, here are my top five reasons for performing the deadlift:
1. The Deadlift is the precursor to any Olympic lift
No, not just power cleans, but in ANY and EVERY Olympic lift you’re picking up the weight! If you’re saying, “Why? I just set my Olympic lifts up in a rack so that I don’t have to bend down every time” then that’s just plain lazy. Regardless, you’ve got to have the deadlifting posture down if you’re going to be pulling weight explosively… especially if it’s from the floor. Practice here makes perfect, so don’t sell yourself short by slacking on your deadlift form.
2. The Deadlift develops core strength
Let’s be serious for a second; who in their right mind doesn’t want more core strength? Whether you’re a football player, a swimmer, or someone who’s just trying to look better on the weekends, you should be peforming the deadlift. Seriously, plank all you want to, but it won’t touch the core strength gains deadlifts will spur. Even if you have to start on the light end to maintain the proper posture, add it to your training and progress appropriately. Simple math tells us that keeping your core stabilized with 405 in your hands is a helluva lot more difficult than stabilizing on that Bosu ball you’ve been using.
3. The Deadlift has BOTH a concentric (contraction or muscle shortening) and eccentric (active muscle lengthening) focus
I get that you’re pulling dead weight, but you can attack the eccentric portion of the motion, too, for greater strength gains. As many know, most other lifts incorporate aspects of a stretch reflex and light momentumfrom the eccentric descent that may sometimes assist during the concentric action of an exercise. From the floor to the fully extended, upright position is entirely concentric and it’s imperative to maintain a tight, braced core to move the weight. Take it one step further. Make sure you hit the eccentric aspect by controlling the weight back to the ground in the same fashion that you pulled it (i.e. don’t just drop the weight!). Yeah, it’s a tough feat, but it will definitely help you gain strength and muscle mass.
4. The Deadlift increases your grip strength
While some may recommend using an alternated grip for this lift, it’s also not a bad idea to work from your typical clean or snatch grip position (i.e. a simple overhand grip). This may really help when it comes time for multiple heavy Olympic lift reps or testing singles. Once you’ve got some experience, you can also mix in some single hand deadlifts. This is extremely challenging and done with similar body posture while straddling the barbell, but only holding it with one hand. Sure, you can always just use straps, but why make it easier when the purpose is to get stronger? The best part? The added grip strength will increase other core lifts like pull-ups, bench press, and even those hammer curls that you love so much.
5. The Deadlift doesn’t require tons of fancy equipment
All you need is a barbell and enough plates to get the job done (which may be tough for some of you animals). And don’t argue that your gym won’t let you drop the weight – we addressed that above. Simply maintain the same strong posture you used when you picked it up and lower the weight back to the floor in a controlled fashion. No, controlling the weight back to the floor is not fun, but not having a proper “landing surface” is no excuse for not working this exercise into your routine.
It’s clear that I truly love deadlifts. Some may argue that deadlifting puts one’s back in a vulnerable position that outweighs any of the benefits (probably because they were taught poorly). I say BULL! If done with correct posture and appropriate loads (that’s right, not everyone will be able to pull 500lbs), it’s not only safe, but extremely beneficial in helping you accomplish all of your strength training goals.
To maximize your strength and recovery after performing total body exercises like the deadlift 1R would recommend the following supplements:
- Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery - The carbs and protein will help you recover and build lean muscle faster after tough workouts
- Cytosport Creatine - By increasing your body's ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after lifts
- Optimum Nutrition BCAA 5000 Powder – Adding this product to your pre or post-workout routine will help build lean muscle mass, increase protein synthesis, and improve energy levels
About the Author
Amanda is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Monmouth University where she works with women's basketball, women's lacrosse, mens and women's track and field and cross country, women's bowling, and men's tennis. Previously she was a graduate assistant strength coach at Gardner-Webb University where she acheived her masters degree in Sport Science and Pedagogy. Prior to GWU, she served as an intern at Bucknell University, Lafayette University, and Stony Brook University. She graduated with a BS in Sport and Exercise Science from DeSales University in Pennsylvania. During her undergrad, Amanda played 4 years of basketball and ended her senior season with a “Sweet 16” appearance in the DIII NCAA Tournament. She is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS).
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