This Is The Most Functional Exercise You Can Do. So Why Aren’t You Doing It?


The Internet may be one of the last bastions of levelheaded thinking and reasonableness. I don’t know about your experience online, but mine is mostly filled with polite individuals who tend to see the nuance and complexity of all situations.

They never debate idiotic things like semantics, and they never hurl unnecessary insults from the anonymous protection of a screen and social media profile.

One of the greatest examples of this joy is in the fitness world, specifically when talking about functional exercises and functional training.

Instead of people calling into question the meaning of the word functional, or standing on their soapbox to talk about how any exercise can be functional if you want it to be, everyone more or less understands that functional is a broad term that more or less means an exercise carries over to all facets of life.

Obviously what I’m speaking of is a non-existent Internet utopia that doesn’t exist, nor will it ever. I’m not sure what I’d do if mouth breathing neck beards didn’t piss and moan at every single thing written online.

So, at the behest of most everyone who wants to debate semantics, what is the most functional exercise you can do?

The deadlift.

The deadlift is by far and away the exercise that has the highest carry over into every day life. There is rarely a day that goes by where you don’t have to pick something up off the ground, bend over at the hips, or exert yourself in some form or fashion.

The deadlift trains all of these, and it forces you to get better at all of these.

A quick search of the Google machine reveals that over 3 million people chronically suffer with lower back pain. Most of this is probably due to the fact that people spend way too much time sitting, they’re back is rounded all damn day, they’ve got poor posture, and they don’t know how to deadlift.

Normally when someone bends over to pick something up off the floor they do it via spinal flexion. They bend their legs a little bit, and round their back until they’ve hit the floor. The vertebrae and lower back muscles have to contort to make this happen.

Years and years of this shit and it’s no wonder you can hardly tie your shoes without needing a Percocet.

What can help fix that? Learning to deadlift. Deadlifting teaches proper hip hinging. Hip hinging is one of the five movement patterns I wrote that we should be doing every day. Hinging is arguably the most widely screwed up movement pattern out there, which makes it an important pattern to learn and practice, especially if you’ve got a bad lower back. Deadlifting well teaches you how to load your glutes and hamstrings, and use your legs and back together to lift something.

Proper hinging and deadlifting also builds overall strength throughout the entire posterior chain, which is just a fancy term for every muscle that you can’t directly see in the mirror.

Build a strong posterior chain, and you’re much less likely to experience injury at some point later in life.

Oh, and when you have to move shit, like you inevitably will at some point, deadlifting is just practice for that. When you need to move that coffee table, that couch, chair, or whatever else, you’ll be able to do it pain free and without risking injury.

Why? Because you know how to deadlift. You know how to lift something and do it in the safest and strongest way possible. Remember what functional means? Carrying over into all facets of life. Moving things is a perfect example of the deadlift being functional as fuck.

Oh, and what about when you really need to exert yourself? It could be physically or mentally, the deadlift prepares you for that.

Don’t believe me? Go try and pull a one rep max deadlift and tell me you didn’t have to go through some mental strain to make that happen. It may sound hokey, but that sort of strain carries over to your work and personal life. If you’ve exposed yourself to the stressor of straining mentally, you handle that stressor better when it comes around again.

Deadlifting can legitimately help you through a stressful time at work or home. Tell me how an exercise gets more functional than that.