If you were asked about your favorite barbell exercise, what would come to mind? Average gym goers would probably lean towards the universally popular bench press or seasoned athletes may lean towards the touted “King of the Exercises” barbell squat.
But who among you would think the deadlift? The deadlift is the ultimate test of strength and is the basis for one of the most functional activities in existence… picking something, anything up off of the ground.
The deadlift is my favorite barbell exercise, and here is why:
Everyday everyone will at some point pick something up. From dropping a pencil in an office to lugging heavy boxes into a new living space, humans are constantly picking objects up from the floor.
It is here that said objects have no potential energy, as they are on the floor and cannot travel any lower. This is what is referred to as “Dead Weight.”
When executed properly the deadlift teaches us that much of our power is derived from the movement of the hips and recruitment of the posterior chain of muscles. When you apply this principle of movement to everyday life your lower back will be safer and you will be able to lift heavier loads more efficiently.
Few exercises will help you build a iron-like core like the deadlift. While crunches are firmly implanted in the go-to vernacular as a way to build a muscular midsection, nothing will strengthen your core like a strong deadlift.
This is because every muscle that makes up your core, not just the elusive six-pack, but muscles such as transverse abdominis, obliques, diaphragm, erector spinae, hip adductors, and hip abductors just to name a few, are taken to task during the execution of the deadlift.
The deadlift also calls for a neutral spine, which is a safer and more advantageous position for core work.
The deadlift is a hard exercise to get bored with because of the fact that there is a plethora of techniques in which to modify it. One can use the conventional deadlift with a switch grip, or one can increase the difficulty by merely using a double overhand grip to increase grip strength and work the muscle of the forearms.
The sumo deadlift can be executed by widening the feet with the hands inside the legs when gripping the bar for for a more quad dominant lift. Hand grip can also be modified in the sumo deadlift.
Finally, the romanian deadlift or RDL, differs in that it targets less directly on the back but more of the glutes and hamstrings. This is done by using generally straight legs and lowering the bar just to below the knees. The deadlift can be used in many ways to target more specific muscle groups in a compound movement.
These are only three of the benefits that the deadlift can offer. This versatile, functional, and core creating exercise should be planted deep in every exercise program- both for those that seek to move mountains to the average person walking into their first workout. The deadlift may not do it all by itself, but it comes close.