Before you get all freaked out and your spine starts to disassemble itself at the mere thought of picking up a heavy barbell, there’s something you should understand:
There are countless deadlift variations.
It can be done with a barbell, yes. But also dumbbells, kettlebells, a trap bar, light weight, heavy weight, weight held in front, weight held on the sides, from a deficit, from a rack, conventional stance, sumo stance, with resistance bands, both legs at a time, one leg at a time… should I keep going?
There are also a ton of other deadlift type movements (known as a hip hinge) such as glute bridges, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, back extensions, etc.
You don’t have to know what all of these variations are, to realize, when I say you should deadlift, I don’t necessarily mean standing behind a barbell and lifting hundreds of pounds.
That said, whether you choose a good old fashioned deadlift, or one of its variants, I can think of at least 15 different reasons to include it in your workout.
1. You Pick Things Up
Some people get scared of deadlifts because they think it’s too complicated. As it turns out, you already do it: every time you pick something up off the ground (which, throughout your life, you’ll do about 100 gazillion times — give or take a gazillion).
With that being the case, why not get better at it so you don’t have to worry about whether your body can handle carrying a big box up the stairs?
2. For that Booty
It seems to be mostly women who like to work their glutes. But, guys, women like to see a shapely peach on a man, too.
Deadlifts are a great booty blaster.
3. Workin’ the Core
If you want a solid core, training your body to maintain stability while picking up and holding weight (a.k.a. deadlifting) is one of the best things you can do.
4. Improved Posture
Deadlifts are a great lower body exercise, sure. But they also strengthen your upper back, which can help straighten out that hunched over look that comes from sitting all day.
5. Training Untrained Muscles
Speaking of sitting too much, there are lots of muscles that become weak and inactive from spending too much time on our butts. Weak and inactive muscles can lead to injuries down the road.
Deadlifts happen to strengthen a lot of those muscles that otherwise get neglected.
6. Total Body
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the deadlift is a full body exercise. In fact, it works a large majority of your muscles.
As far as getting the most out of any single exercise, it’s hard to find an exercise that beats the deadlift.
The deadlift strengthens your grip, which is pretty cool in itself. (Who doesn’t love being able to open a jar without assistance?)
But if that doesn’t do it for you, one study found that people with better grip strength tended to live longer lives. This is more likely a sign of overall muscle strength, rather than grip alone, but it no doubt adds credence to my claim that deadlifts are a good idea.
8. Better Balance
Any exercise done with free weights (as opposed to machines) has an element of balance — you have to keep yourself from falling over while lifting the weight.
I find single leg deadlifts to be particularly difficult in this regard. Start out trying it with no weight at all, like this video shows.
9. More Confidence
Not everyone is interested in lifting hundreds of pounds. That’s ok. But there’s a confidence that comes with being able to lift your body weight that’s hard to understand until you’ve done it.
(It caused me to want to go well beyond that.)
I highly encourage you to get at least to that point so you can experience that confidence yourself.
10. You Pick Things Up
I know I said this one already, but it’s worth repeating.
You’re going to have to lift things off the ground. The longer you go in life without strengthening your body through exercises like the deadlift, the higher your chances of getting hurt.
11-15. So Much More
Lifting in general has a lot of benefits not exclusive to the deadlift. I won’t attempt to list every single one. What I will do is give you 5 that the deadlift is undeniably tied to.
11. It can get you leaner.
12. It can make you more powerful (like a sports car, not an evil wizard).
13. It can help you become more athletic.
14. It can even make you more resilient outside the gym.
15. Above all, it makes you healthier.
Just to Clarify
You don’t have to deadlift. There’s not any one exercise you HAVE to do. But there are some exercises I would prioritize over others. The deadlift (or some variation thereof) is one of them.
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