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.