I have to admit this is my favorite exercise. Not only does it work almost every muscles of the body, it also triggers a huge anabolic hormonal response. Deadlift and squat are the two exercises that let you lift the heaviest weights. This means putting maximum tension on your muscles, ligaments and tendons, making them stronger.
Deadlift works the legs, glutes, core, back, traps, shoulders and arms (especially forearms). It is almost a muscle building program by itself, so it should be included in any serious strength, hypertrophy or cutting program.
Some will argue that squat is even better, but in my opinion deadlift is the best exercise because it works more muscles and is easier to learn.
How to deadlift
Here’s two video that show the basic technique for deadlift
A few important tips:
- Wear flat soles shoes like Converse Chuck Taylor Allstar. Running shoe are not good because the squishy sole will absorb part of the energy your are trying to transmit from the ground to the bar. And it makes you less stable. If you don’t have such shoes you can go barefoot, with sandals or flip-flops (if your gym allows it).
I currently use a pair of skateboard shoes I found at Zeller’s for 25$.
- Don’t wear gloves, they don’t offer a good grip. Use chalk instead. You’ll develop calluses in time. (I’ll write an article on hand care later on…)
- Don’t grip the bar in the center of your palm. The bar’s going to roll and in time you can injure your hand. Put the top of your palm on the side of the bar, wrap your fingers and thumb around it. (I’ll write an article about this also…)
- Never do this in front of a mirror! Like any other exercise… mirrors will distract you from what’s important: you have to use proprioception to feel your body’s position. (Guess what? I’ll write an article about mirrors too…)
- Take time to set yourself properly before beginning any lift. And between each rep, make sure you are still well in place.
- The bar should be over the center of your foot, almost touching your shins.
- Bend you knees and get your butt as low and far from the bar as possible.
- Lift your head and look up. Make sure your back is straight.
- Before the lift:
- take a deep breath and contract your abs hard (and rectum to avoid hemorrhoids). Push your stomach out as if you were trying to break your belt. This raises your IAP (Intra Abdominal Pressure), it pushes your lumbar muscles and makes your core much more stable and strong, making the lift a lot easier and safer. If you have high blood pressure problems or your not in your prime youth, please consult a physician before doing this.
- focus on a high point in front of you (usually I focus on the neons at the other end of the gym), keep looking at it all the way through. This will help keep your head high and back straight.
- squeeze the bar as strong as you can, try to crush it. This will activate your arm’s muscles.
- start lifting a little to put your arms under tension. You don’t want to start lifting with loose arms.
- Now push the ground as fast and strong as you can. Push with your heels, not your sole or toes.
- Don’t think about pulling the bar; think about pushing the ground with your legs instead. (this cue has help me a lot!)
- Once the bar is up, stand straight and push your shoulders backward and open your chest, as if some nice chick was looking at you and you were swelling your chest.
- Hold the position for a second.
- Slowly lower the bar by starting by bending your knees. You need to keep the control of the bar.
- Keep the bar as close as possible to your legs.
- Don’t bounce the bar off the floor.
- Relax your grip a little, take and deep breath and go for another rep!