Back in the days of the Roman Empire the Romans were basically the most kick ass people to walk the Earth. They had a fully functioning society with roads, city centers, markets, courts, you name it. They also had an army that could basically conquer anyone they wanted. When they did conquer you, if you lived, you became their slave and wound up a gladiator. Much like Russell Crowe. Much less good looking, though. If you didn’t live, the Roman soldiers would come and pick you up off the ground to clear the battlefield. Giving us quite possible the most hardcore exercise in history, the deadlift.
The deadlift is by far and away my favorite exercise. If I walk into the gym and don’t have a plan there’s a good chance I’m gonna do some deadlifting. I love it unlike anything else. In my book it’s in front of all else. I wasn’t always like this though.
Deadlifting took quite a while for me to learn. While it can be described in simpler terms than any other exercise, you pick something up then put it down, it’s a very complex movement. The deadlift has a few different moving parts, even if all you’re doing is picking something up off the ground.
Why should you be deadlifting?
First and foremost, deadlifts are hard. Really damn hard. If you’re doing them right you have a ton of tension in your system and your poor little heart is just a pounding away. The amount of muscle you have to recruit just to pick something up off the floor is unlike any other exercise out there. Not the squat, not the bench press, not Zumba class.
Deadlifts are also the key to a strong, but well-rounded physique. They build serious strength, ridiculous athleticism, and help you move your hips (wink wink).
How is that the case though?
Compound movements are king when it comes to building strength and using energy. The two things that give you physique changes most efficiently. Efficiency is like the best thing ever. People love being efficient these days. It’s all work smarter, not harder. The deadlift has been doing that since before The 4 Hour Work Week was cool.
When you’ve got an exercise that involves multiple muscles at once you’ve got a compound lift. This is thanks to the fact that when multiple groups of muscles working hard that requires a significant amount of energy. Your body can either nut up or shut up.
The deadlift involves:
- Spinal erectors (lower back)
- Deep muscles inside the hip
- Upper back
You could also argue that the chest and other upper body muscles get involved as stabilizers because they have to be as tense as possible when pulling a heavy deadlift.
When you complete a heavy deadlift the hormonal cascade that takes place is unmatched. Your body is flooded with testosterone and growth hormone. This may not stay like that for days, but it can definitely be responsible for helping build ridiculous strength and melting off fat.
There’s also something to be said about the primal feelings that come with a heavy deadlift. Yes, I did use the word primal. But getting in touch with the part of you that has to seriously overcome great fear, fight against what feels like an immovable object, and experiencing the joy that comes with hitting a goal you’ve been working tirelessly towards is good for your damn health.
There’s no other feeling that matches that of walking up to a bar loaded down with plates, pulling the shit out of it, and knowing that you just fought gravity. And won.
That’s me. Fighting gravity and winning. There are a few things I could do to clean up the set up and pull. At the time that was a big pull for me though. Now that weight is quite a bit easier to get.
Knowing all of this is great. Deadlifts can help build an ass that gets plenty of attention as you walk by, and everyone loves that. But what are some of the other benefits?
- Deadlifts build overall total body strength better than any other exercise
- Deadlifts help shed body fat thanks to the dual wielding lightsaber of heavy lifting. Your cardiovascular system works hard, so you burn calories. You build strength and muscle, which means you burn more calories at rest. Thanks to the loss of body fat, and in the increase in muscle you look double jacked.
- Deadlifts improve your posture (stronger lower back, ass, and hips lead to better postural alignment)
- Proper deadlifts prevent you from bad lower back issues later in life.
- Your grip strength goes through the roof. Not like you fellas out there need it.
- You become the most badass person at your gym if everyone else is scared of heavy weights
- Deadlifts double as cardio, because your body has to work so hard to get oxygen during a heavy set of deadlifts.
- The short term hormonal effect of deadlifting is unmatched. This is one of the key reasons deadlifts can bring physique changes unlike anything else. Hormonal change for the good = physique change for the good.
- Deadlifts help with running faster and jumping higher, something every athlete wants.
- Deadlifts help with hip extension (hip thrusting) something your sex partner wants you to work on.
- Nothing compares to the rush you get of completing a heavy ass set of deadlifts. It’s good for your mental health and sanity. Think I’m kidding? Next time you’re stressed to the max go pick up heavy shit and tell me how you feel.
- It’s the most functional exercise known to man. Ever pick something up off the ground? Then you’ve deadlifted. Deadlifting makes you better at that.
In the ranking of exercises there is no one greater than the deadlift. Not the squat (though that’s a close 2nd), not the bench, not the curl. But continually telling you that wouldn’t do any good in convincing you to go deadlifting like actually doing it and reaping the benefits. Do yourself a favor. Go out, pick up a barbell, pick that shit up, put it down, and repeat.