Beginner’s Guide: Deadlifts

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Last week I wrote about how functional training/rehabilitation is used to prepare and allow an individual to perform task they might encounter in daily activities. Again the way I incorporate functional training in my fitness regimen is doing exercises that will make me stronger at performing basic human movements against resistance; a few examples of what I define as basic human movements against resistance would be carrying something heavy, picking something up off the floor, pushing or pulling something and putting something heavy above my head. When I train functionally I exercise with a compound movement, that works out more than one joint and muscle group, and better imitates the resistance your body might have to overcome in daily activities. I already wrote about the importance of being able to lift something above your head and how to strengthen that movement with the overhead press. Today I want to talk to you about the necessity of picking up something off the ground.

Functional Lifting: pick something off the ground

Being able to pick up something off the ground is one of the most basic of all human movements against resistance, the ability to do this pain-free will come in handy in performing numerous daily task. The compound exercise that I use to strengthen my body in preparation for picking up heavy things off the ground is the deadlift. Deadlifts are credibly one of the best all around exercise you can do; you workout many muscle groups including your back, glutes and core. Doing deadlifts will not only increase your strength and mobility for picking things up off the ground but it will also increase your ability to pull something to you. That being said deadlifts can be intimidating to learn and like other compound exercises – good form is a necessity. If you are new to deadlifts use a piece of exercise equipment that you are familiar with and a low weight to practice the form.          

 Muscles worked during the deadlift:
  • back
  • legs
  • hips
  • glutes
  • core
  • forearms (and grip)
Benefits of doing deadlifts:
  • full body strength
  • mobility
  • general athleticism
  • muscle gain
  • weight loss
Equipment to use for deadlifting:
  • barbell
  • dumbbell
  • kettlebell
  • resistance bands
  • sandbags

As I mentioned, deadlifts can be intimidating to begin but the benefits of including them in your fitness regimen is tremendous. Again, strict adherence to form is key when doing deadlifts but once you get comfortable with the form you can progressively advance in weight. Like other compound exercises there a multiple ways you can perform a deadlift; to illustrate when performing a stiff-legged deadlift with dumbbells, here is a step-by-step:

How to do deadlifts with dumbbells
  1. hold a pair of dumbbells by your side
  2. keep your back straight, legs shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent
  3. with your knees in place lower the dumbbells to your feet by bending your waist and keeping your back straight
  4. at the bottom slowly lift back with your waist and hips
  5. repeat for as many repetitions as desired (remember a good rule of thumb is low weight high reps, heavy weight low reps)

Simply stated, deadlifts are awesome. But speaking from a functional perspective you are going to be hard pressed to find another exercise that prepares your body to pick something off the ground pain-free. 

If you feel ready to give it a try, go ahead! Please feel free to leave a comment about your experience or if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading and as always cheers to your good health!    

[disclaim]Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian and do not claim to be so.The opinions and experiences I share are my own.[/disclaim]

David Smith

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