Deadlift the Forgotten Exercise - Proper Deadlift Form & Technique

Deadlift Exercise

Proper Form and Technique is Essential for Real Results with Exercise

Look around gyms or fitness clubs throughout North America these days and you'll see weight trainees doing many different exercises for countless sets and repetitions, all in their quest to build a more athletic- looking body. No doubt many of these routines, done properly, will in time prove successful, but there is a better way, a more efficient way, and (in my humble opinion) a more satisfying way to obtain the same results. The secret? The good old-fashioned deadlift.

The deadlift is simply not being used by the majority of bodybuilding fanatics these days. Some of the underlying reasons for this neglect might be as follows:

1. The deadlift is one of the three "power lifts" (the bench press and squat being the others), and therefore might be seen as a "heavy-duty" exercise. As a result many may feel intimidated by the lift.

2. Some trainees may have never even heard of this exercise. Almost all weightlifting buffs have done barbell curls, bench presses, and dumbbell raises, but how many trainees do you see in the gym doing deadlifts? Very few I'm sure.

3. Maybe this exercise is seen as too tough for the average trainee.

Tough? Well, I am not going to deny that deadlifting does indeed require drive, determination, perseverance and a lot of inner strength, but once mastered, no other exercise provides as much total-body satisfaction as a hard set of deadlifts. Besides, as is the case when you begin any new exercise, if you start with a weight that is comfortable for you to handle and use good technique, the deadlift is no tougher than any other new muscle- building venture.

Regardless of whether weight-training enthusiasts are intimidated by or simply unfamiliar with this great muscle-building lift, it's used in gyms these days about as much as hula hoops. So why should you consider making it a regular part of your workout regimen? Well, let's take a look at some of the more popular exercises trainees routinely do to build different parts of their body:

Barbell curls - build the biceps

Dumbbell rows - build the lats (mid-back)

Upright rows - build the traps (upper back)

Leg presses - build the quads (thighs)

Okay, now let's look at the muscle groups that the deadlift exercises. It builds the biceps, traps, quads, lower back, hamstrings and forearms. Not bad for one exercise, eh? So now I ask you: Why do all those other exercises when you can build the same muscles by doing one major exercise (deadlift) and a couple of assistance exercises? Let me give you an example. A trainee finds that he will be able to work out only twice a week because of work constraints, and his total workout time for each session is also limited. How can he get an effective total-body workout in a minimal amount of time?

Two approaches are available. He can do 4 sets of 8 repetitions in each of the following exercises: barbell curls for biceps, pushdowns for triceps, flys for pecs (chest), upright rows for traps, leg presses for thighs, leg curls for hamstrings, hyperextensions for the lumbar area (lower back), shoulder presses for deltoids, and crunches for abdominals. Or he can do 5 sets of deadlifts at 5 repetitions per set (working biceps, traps, quads, lower back, hamstrings, forearms), followed by 4 sets of 8 repetitions of flys for pecs, presses for deltoids, barbell curls for biceps, and crunches for abdominals.

Look closely at these two workout formats. There is no denying that workout #2 is more efficient. But - and here's the beautiful part it's also just as effective. Both of these routines will build a better, more muscular body, but workout #2 does the job in just a fraction of the time.

You may have noticed that I recommend doing only 5 repetitions on the deadlift instead of 8 as for the other exercises. The reason for this strategy will he obvious after you've done your first set. The deadlift is not only the king of exercises in terms of getting the most bang for your time and effort, but also it requires a great deal of cardiovascular exertion and energy. Don't believe me? Try 5 sets at 5 repetitions per set, using the proper technique I'm about to describe, and then ask your body if I was right.

How to perform the deadlift

1. Select a very light barbell - 50 to 100 pounds depending on your size and weight- training experience. I recommend a light weight to begin with so that you can concentrate on good form rather than wait until you get your technique down pat. Once you are easily completing all your sets with proper form, you can start to use progressively heavier poundage. Place the barbell containing the desired weight on the floor directly in front of you.

2. Position your feet shoulder width apart under the bar so that your shins are very close to (or even slightly touching) the bar.

3. Grasp the bar with an alternate grip - your hands should be a little more than shoulder width apart. Alternate grip means one hand takes hold of the bar with an underhand grip while the other hand uses an overhand grip. It makes no difference which hand goes over and which goes under. Right-handed people generally use their right hand for the overhandgrip, and left-handed people place their left hand on top.

4. Bend your knees and lower your buttocks until you are in a squat position-i.e., thighs and buttocks are at a 90-degree angle to your legs.

5. Looking straight ahead (or slightly upwards) and keeping your back as erect as possible, start the initial drive of the bar off the floor using your strong leg muscles. Imagining yourself trying to push your feet through the floor may help you to ensure that you use your legs to start the lift instead of your back, which, relatively speaking, is a weak muscle group.

Muscles used: quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, forearms.

6. When the bar reaches your knees, you may allow your lower back to kick in and take over the strain of the lift.

Muscles used: lower back, forearms.

7. As the bar approaches its final destination (the thighs), shrug your shoulders back to complete the lift. This movement will ensure that you get the maximum benefit from each repetition (no cheating, now..). You should be standing totally erect with your shoulders back and your arms fully extended downward.

Muscles used: traps, deltoids, forearms.

8. Slowly lower the bar back to its original position on the foot Repeat steps 5 through 8 for each additional repetition of the set.


» The train of power for the deadlift is legs - lower back - traps.

» Keep your arms straight and your feet flat on the floor at all times during the lift.

» Use your legs as much as you possibly can during the first part of the lift (step 5). If you don't, your lower back will be under tremendous stress, which could result in injury.

Whether you are forced to cut back on the total time you can spend pumping iron, nr you're interested in varying your workout routine by adding a multi-muscle group power exercise, why not give the deadlift a try? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results you get, and in the process you'll be doing your part to prevent this excellent exercise from actually living up to its name.

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