posted on September 15, 2017
Few movements we perform in the gym are as controversial as the deadlift. It is held in high esteem in the strength training community but feared by many medical and fitness professionals. I’ve had a physical therapist tell me to never deadlift again after an unrelated injury. That’s a hard line to respond to when you think about how useful it is to be able to pick objects up off the floor!
In essence, that’s what a deadlift is: picking an inert object up off the ground. In the gym, that’s usually with a barbell, but it doesn’t have to be. Do you pick up your children, your pets, or your groceries? You’re deadlifting! Working on that movement pattern as part of your regular strength training routine means that those everyday tasks you perform without thinking will only get easier.
There are myriad other benefits to performing deadlifts. They help correct common muscular imbalances between the muscles in the front and the back of the body. Most people who sit through most of the day (pretty much everyone) have overly tight hip flexors and overly stretched glute muscles. This creates postural issues and often low back back pain. To fix this issue, we utilize hip hinging movements – like the deadlift! These work to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, bringing them up to match your stronger quads and hip flexors. This will help straighten up your posture, and decrease your everyday pain.
For endurance athletes, deadlifting may seem like overkill, when it’s really quite the opposite! Every runner has heard that they need to strengthen their core and glutes, and there are few exercises that do a better job. In order to keep a flat back posture throughout the movement, you’ll learn to properly brace your core. This increase in strength directly translates to your running – you’ll be able to hold good posture longer, even when you’re pushing for faster times.
The benefits only continue from there. Deadlifts are great at building up your grip (so that obstacle course race you’re eyeing will be a LOT easier), building all over mass from the upper back to the lower body for those looking to get bigger, and working on the frequently ignored stabilizer muscles in your core.
At this point, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that we encourage our members to deadlift if they are able. It can be an intimidating movement if you’re only exposure to deadlifting is the World’s Strongest Man, but there are deadlifting options for everyone. We deadlift with kettlebells, barbells, medballs, Fatbells, the trap bar. Sometimes we will elevate the weight to work on good positioning, and sometimes have members deadlift from a deficit to increase the stimulus. There are single leg variations, weighted and unweighted variations, walking variations. The list is almost endless, and helps keep training interesting!
You do need to keep in mind that there is a risk to deadlifting incorrectly. This is why we encourage everyone to utilize a good coach, like the ones we have here at UF. Our personal trainers are all equipped to teach the deadlift, and will take you through the steps to perfect the movement for your body. For more information, visit our website here!
So the next time you worry that you can’t deadlift because it’s “bad for your back,” remember that you pick things up all the time! Let’s work on perfecting that everyday movement by practicing together at the gym.