All of us want a good looking body, which often times can distract us from the importance of having a strong body. If you have a strong body odds are you’ll probably have a good looking one too, especially if you’re eating right.
With that said, what is one exercise that we can all do that will support us to have a strong, functional, yet good looking body?
Deadlifts are one of the most important exercises for us to do because it’s one of the few that will work your entire body from head-to-toe. Literally. Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, arms, lower, mid and upper back, and most importantly your core, are all muscles that will be exercised and more. The best part is that the deadlift is a functional exercise–functional meaning a movement that you do naturally (i.e. picking something up off the ground)–so it has one of, if not the best, carry-over into everyday life and sport.
This is because the deadlift gets your body accustomed to operating as one unit or machine because you won’t be able to perform the exercise, or perform it correctly (like if you were rounding your back by not using your core muscles). This is vital because in any activity or sport you engage in, or play, especially stop-and-go sports like basketball and football, it will require all of your body and not just your biceps. You don’t run without engaging your core and you don’t through a baseball without the power transfer of your lower body. Everything is connected and that’s why deadlifts are so awesome because your body becomes one powerful machine.
And, the icing on the cake is that deadlifts just might get you jacked or massive. No joke. Just look at Hugh Jackman–The Wolverine–below.
And from the world of powerlifters and bodybuilders, Franco Columbo, one of Arnie’s friends back in the day, is a great example. Here he is lifting around 600lbs at a body-weight of around 180lbs. Not bad I’d say.
You can also see Brian Shaw, multiple winner of The World’s Strongest Man competition, in the main photo for this post about to deadlift with his massive 6’8” 400lb frame.
To me there’s no mystery why these individuals get massive, lean, or jacked. It’s because they use deadlifts as one of the primary exercises and focal points in their training routines time and time again. It’s because deadlifts work your body like no other from head-to-toe with high intensity effort stimulating testosterone production, which is crucial for muscle growth and development. It also trains your central nervous system to function at optimal levels, which equals increased strength and ultimately increased lean muscle mass. If you want to get strong and have a good looking body at the same time than deadlifts is your answer. Period.
Your Core Will Thank You
Deadlifts train the most important part of your body: your core.
Your core is the, “complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs including everything besides your arms and legs.”
All strength emanates, or comes from, the core which allows your body to run, jump, squat, lift, and do athletic movements. Most of us think of the core as a prime mover (a muscle that is primarily responsible for movement), but in reality it’s a stabilizer (a muscle that contracts with no movement to support a joint fixture) that is able to provide proper posture and transfer of force for your body to move. Why the deadlift is so good is because it trains your body to use the core the way it was intended to (as a stabilizer) while getting strong as hell at the same time. It’s a win-win and that’s why I love the deadlift.
Another reason I love the deadlift is because it’s a tough exercise that will humble you more than once. I know this because of experimenting with powerlifting training for a long time, so I know lifting heavy is no walk in the park. Deadlifts will test your mental will and character because of the psychological effect it can have on you as you start to lift heavy as you scrap your shins against the bar and feel your grip start to fail.
Each 45lb plate that I’ve added, I know there’s been a mental barrier that I’ve had to get through and say to myself, “Yes, I can do this.” I also think the deadlift is one of the manliest exercises because there’s just something badass and primal about picking a heavy ass weight off the ground. I just love it and hope you will too (guy or girl) as you try it for yourself.
How to Get Started Deadlifting
If you’re new to this and saying this isn’t for me I say, “STOP!” Take a deep breath, relax, and don’t be so judgmental. All you have to do is a little preparation and practice and you’ll be lifting in no time!
The first thing you want to do is work on your mobility. Specifically, work on your hip, knee, and ankle mobility and flexion, so you can be able to get in a good starting position for the exercise. Things like foam rolling, stretching (static, dynamic), and using a thick band is good for this.
Next, do some body exercises (aka calisthenics), like pull-ups, push-ups, body squats, lunges, etc., and get really good at those. This will support you in moving your body as one unit (remember functionality?) and getting you stronger naturally, so you can be in the best position to actually start deadlifting weight.
After you improve your strength and mobility, then you can approach the barbell.
For those ready to get started, start light and practice your movement pattern like crazy. This way you’ll develop the right technique to engage all your muscles, especially your core, so you can become stronger and prevent injury.
Remember, you can’t walk before you crawl and you can’t run before you walk. The same thing goes with any big movement like the deadlift. You have to have a solid foundation to begin with, like good mobility and good body strength, to actually start with lifting that barbell off the floor. If you feel you can get right to it then great, but if not don’t be ashamed to just start with the bar and progress from there. It takes time, but it will definitely be worth it.
Once you start to deadlift, you probably won’t want to stop. I had to for a while because of injury (not because of deadlifts by the way), but as soon as I could I started again. The reason is because the exercise is something I love and it’s great for you.
I guarantee you that you’ll look stronger than ever once you start to deadlift correctly. You’ll likely notice a significant increase in muscle mass and you may even get jacked, especially if you keep your volume low (reps), intensity high (weight), and remain consistent (watch out Wolverine). Either way, deadlifts will get you strong, looking good, and functional…and isn’t that what we all want?
Here’s to deadlifts!
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. For those of you who are subscribers thank you. If you’re not then please hit that subscribe button!
Until next time, be strong and be you!
- Do You Know What Your Core Really Is and What It Does?
- How to Gain Weight With One Exercise
- Functional Roles of Muscle
- Muscle Movement Classification