Humans have picked up objects off of the ground for thousands of years. This is precisely what a deadlift is. So why is the deadlift often turned away by many gym-goers in favor of bicep curls and leg-extensions? When does one curl something in real life or extend their leg in absence of any other movement?
However, it is easy to remember the last time a heavy couch or table needed to be lifted and moved. It is even easy to remember picking up a pencil from the floor. These are all deadlifts – the lifting of a stalled object from the ground.
The lifter’s form may have been wrong with a rounded back and locked legs. They likely did not drag the pencil up their leg to maximize their leverage. Nevertheless, the concept is the same. They performed a deadlift. Now if the object weighed 500lbs, the incorrect form used by the lifter can eventually cause injury over time.
This is precisely why the lift is so commonly avoided, especially by beginners. Many have lived their lives in a sedentary fashion and lack the structural integrity to properly pick an object off of the floor without hurting themselves. So what do these individuals do? They call the deadlift a “dangerous exercise” and move on to the chest-fly machine and other similar contraptions.
What is the problem with this? People never “chest-fly” anything in their everyday life. It is not functional whatsoever. In fact, an overreliance on machine work will put you at further risk of injury. The prime movers become overdeveloped in relation to the stabilizers. A skyscraper cannot be built on a faulty foundation.
It is difficult to name a muscle in the body that does not get activated during the deadlift. In turn, it is difficult to name a muscle that can be injured or aggravated without hampering the deadlift. If you can and have deadlifted before, you are likely doing it incorrectly.
The body must act in perfect synchrony, from your head positioning and grip strength, to your foot positioning and spinal alignment. Because of this, total overall progression can be measured much more accurately. A 90lb increase on the deadlift is a 90lb increase in complete body function.
Even if the majority of this increase was due to an improvement in form, rather than strength progression, this means that the lifter has increased the movement efficiency and coordination of their body. This is just as important, if not more so, than increasing his or her strength capacity.
The translation of this enters many walks of life. A good deadlift can improve athletic performance in a variety of sports, as well as an individual’s capability to perform in everyday life. The root of these benefits lies in the exercise’s facilitation of good posture.
Proper form on a deadlift calls for good postural alignment of the spinal cord. As the resistance increases, the muscles associated with good posture will strengthen and support the individual to excel in everyday tasks in the safest and most efficient way possible.
Therefore, for anyone inspired to add deadlifts into their program, it would be wise to start as light as possible to master proper form and slowly add resistance without putting their body in a compromising position.
For those not capable of performing a quality deadlift with even the most minimal resistance, weightlifting of any sort should only come after the issues of flexibility, core strength, and movement coordination have been addressed.
This should be done by simply using one’s own bodyweight and nutritional adjustments, as resistance training at such a beginning level may foster further muscular imbalances and bad habits in regard to overall form. Once capable, deadlifting can then be added and its various benefits can be reaped.