Getting Started with Strength Training: Deadlifts

The deadlift is often hailed as being the king of all strength-training movements, and for good reason.
Although it appears to involve nothing more than simply lifting a barbell off the floor and placing it back down again, there’s much more to it than that…

Why Deadlift?

Simply put, the deadlift is one of the most effective tools for building strength, improving athleticism, losing weight, and gaining muscle mass.

It doesn’t just build strong legs and back muscles. The deadlift engages nearly every part of the body, including your core and the muscles that encourage good posture.

The movement also teaches you proper body mechanics that you can apply to the real world, so you can pick up heavy things safely without injury.

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A video posted by Hannah Lister (@hannaheloise94) on May 20, 2016 at 2:09pm PDT

How to Deadlift

When done right, the deadlift can bring all the benefits mentioned above, and more. However, when performed without correct form, it can do more harm than good. It’s therefore imperative to pay attention to your alignment and follow the cues below.

1. Start with good posture. Stand with your glutes and core engaged, feet hips width apart, shins an inch away from the bar, and your shoulders back and down.

2. Hinge from your hips. Bend forward from the hips and bend your knees slightly to grab the bar, with your grip just outside your legs. Keep your core engaged and your back flat. If you struggle to enter this start position, you may need to perform mobility exercises on your hips and ankles.

3. Lift. Keeping your shins vertical, your back flat, your head neutral and your core engaged, initiate the pull from the floor, extending your hips and knees at the same time. Ensure you squeeze your glutes and screw your feet into the ground to create torque, driving your knees outwards as opposed to letting them cave in.

4. Reverse. Reverse the motion to place the bar back to the floor, maintaining a flat back and strong core.

How Much to Deadlift

Because of the room for error, it’s best to start with a light weight when practicing the deadlift. That might mean just a barbell with some light bumper plates.

It’s important to build that movement pathway and establish a good position before you begin adding loads to the system.

Eventually you should build up to a weight that you can perform comfortably for 6-8 reps, and carry out 3-5 sets of 5 reps for this weight.

As your strength increases and the poundage begins to creep up, the deadlift can place quite a big stress on the nervous system, so it’s best to only perform them once or twice per week.

In summary, regardless of your goals the deadlift has a role to play in just about any strength and conditioning program. Just remember to take it slow, and focus on your technique as opposed to the amount of weight you’re lifting. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

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