17 Jan Anatomy of an Exercise: Should You Deadlift?

BarbellOne of the most basic, fundamental exercises is the deadlift.

The question is this exercise appropriate for everyone and should you be doing it?

In this article, I’d like to tell you why the deadlift is one of the most important exercises you can do for total body strengthening, conditioning, and performance.

In the last episode of the Stealth Body Podcast, I included the deadlift as one the best total body exercises.

Why?  Because it represents a functional movement pattern that we perform our day to day life.  It represents hip and core strength and stability.  Unfortunately, most people lose this fundamental movement as we get older and we lose our hip and spine mobility.

The deadlift restores the movement and prevents “gluteal amnesia,” which is a term used when people lose the ability to use the most powerful muscle groups in the body, the hip extensors or gluteus maximus and the spinal erectors or paraspinals.

While there are many variations of the deadlift, in a traditional barbell deadlift, virtually all major muscles are involved.

In addition to the muscle groups mentioned above, the exercise effectively works the trapezius, the abdominals and external obliques, the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids, the hamstring and quadricep muscle groups, and the forearm and hand flexors.

You can see how powerful this exercise is for working so many major muscles, right?

Maybe you’re wondering where this fits into your program?

Well, for the last couple of years, I basically used the deadlift as part of my pre-workout and joint mobility program.

What I mean by that is that I used this very important exercise to build a movement pattern prior to actually beginning my workout.  I rarely included deadlifts as the main part of my workout, primarily because I was not going very heavy (with the deadlift).

I would use kettlebells and really focus on good technique and execution of my “hip drive” prior to my session of hard training.

So, no matter where you are or what your goals are, deadlifts, whether with a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells will help restore and strengthen a fundamental movement pattern.

The fact is that most people do not know how to properly execute the deadlift.  And, who can blame them, since there are many variations.  But, with the proper guidance, it can be taught for maximum results and optimal safety.

I will tell you that these days, my focus is a little different.  I am doing heavier barbell work and DO INCLUDE this exercise into my program.  I perform this exercise now for different reasons, different goals.

Should you be doing deadlifts in your program?

My answer would be absolutely yes.

Whether they are part of your warm up/movement prep or part of your actual program, everyone from Grandma Betty to Little Joey should be performing deadlifts for the following reasons:

  • to restore functional movement that may have been lost
  • to strengthen your body’s most powerful muscle groups
  • to prevent injury (Yes, prevent injury because if you are performing the exercise correctly, you are essentially “bullet proofing” your body
  • to build total body power
  • to have a strong foundation of total body movement
  • to improve hip joint strength and mobility (something most of us lose as we get older)
  • to be strong in the most essential functional movement pattern

Well, if this list doesn’t convince you that you should be incorporating some form of deadlift’s into your regimen, I don’t know what would.

I mean, why wouldn’t you?

I know some may say, “I have a bad back and I shouldn’t do this type of exercise.”

As a former back patient and physical therapist, I would say that some variation of a deadlift will, indeed, help your back.

The key? PROPER FORM.  This is an absolute requirement.  Bad form creates more problems, more apprehension, and risk of injury.

Good form and technique prevents injuries and creates a ‘bullet proof body.’

Now, if you have had your form checked by a qualified trainer or movement expert, you are doing it correctly, and it still hurts to do it, obviously, this is not a good exercise for you.

But, for majority of people the deadlift should be a required exercise for all of the benefits I have mentioned.

The deadlift is the ultimate total body exercise and a high value, high reward movement that you shouldn’t ignore.

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