What is a Deadlift Exercise – Introduction
What is a deadlift exercise?
In the simplest terms, a deadlift is when you lift a dead weight off of the floor.
Therefore, lifting a suitcase from the floor, or lifting up the foot of your bed to vacuum.
Both of those everyday movements are deadlifts.
Any time you are lifting a dead weight off of the floor, this is a dead lift or deadlift.
Modern Man Does Not Lift Much
This is probably a great understatement, modern man does not lift much of anything.
Your whole day, you lift just about nothing other than your laptop, briefcase, or pen.
Maybe a plate if you even have dinner at home.
But if you eat out because you don’t have time to make dinner, you don’t even lift your plate.
You rely on your server to bring the plate to you and take it away.
Unless you go to a buffet and you carry your own plate back and forth to the unlimited smorgasbord.
Is it no wonder then that back pain is the most common form of pain in the United States?
You sit up in your bed when you wake up, then at the breakfast table for your coffee and muffin.
And then in your car take a bagel, and then in your car once again.
Or you sit on the bus, train, or all three.
Until you get to your job where you sit some more.
For many people, sitting at the job is a good 7 to even 12-hour stretch.
Especially for places like New York City or other large cities where face time counts.
Your body needs to lift and carry things.
Now you understand why deadlifting is good for you.
In The Old Days
People worked with their hands and bodies in the old days, when agriculture was the main gig.
In fact, people were lifting dead weight all day long.
They had to move rocks, fallen trees, stones, or dried corn stalks.
And if you have to carry anything of weight, you have to lift it up off of the ground.
Why is Deadlifting Good For You?
Because most likely, you do no lifting, and for sure no heavy lifting.
This makes you weak.
Constant sitting makes your muscles weak as well as your bones.
This results in a weaker and frailer body.
So what can you do to reverse the tide?
Since you don’t live on a farm with boulders and rocks to move around, what’s the next best alternative?
The deadlift exercise.
And the barbell deadlift is what you need since the industrial revolution.
Since people stopped lifting heavy objects off of the floor, what is the best alternative?
A standard deadlift is an excellent option because it is a functional exercise that targets many different muscle groups simultaneously.
As a result, you not only learn how to lift heavy objects safely from the floor, but you also can tone and condition your entire body.
From your feet to your head, this great exercise will work all your large muscle groups, such as:
- gluteal muscles
- abdominal muscles
- erector spinae
- latissimus dorsi
- arm and grip muscles
- shoulder muscles
What Does the Barbell Deadlift Look Like?
First, let’s take a look at the conventional deadlift exercise.
You can use dumbbells or a barbell to deadlift.
The barbell will have weights at both ends.
If you are a beginner, you can use bumper plates to raise the bar to the right height.
Bumper plates come in lighter weights but are the same circumference as traditional weights.
Watch this video to get an idea of what a deadlift is.
Here AyshaHaleyy is lifting 529 pounds.
Don’t think you are going to walk into a gym and pick 500 pounds off the floor.
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From this video above, you can see what a conventional barbell deadlift is:
- In the starting position, you walk up to the barbell
- You place your feet about hip-width.
- The reason for this is to help you drive hard against the floor.
- A hip-width stance makes that easier.
- With the bar close to your shins
- The best cue I have found is for the barbell to be right above your shoelaces.
- This will help to ensure that the barbell stays close to your body when you lift the weight.
- For your own safety, you must focus on good form.
- You can see that the range of motion is lifting the weight from the floor to a full standing position.
While you might think that you need to deadlift heavy to see results, that is not the case.
Thankfully, you do not need to lift heavy weights to see great results from the deadlift!
After only 6 months of deadlifting light weights (65 – 135lbs), I dropped 75 pounds and went from a 50 to a 32-inch waist at the age of 56.
Go from fat to fit with the deadlift (even if you’re over 50!)
Rich “HashiMashi” deadlifting at 64
Forget about using hand grips to build grip strength.
If you really want to get an insanely strong grip, you are going to deadlift.
Holding a hundred or more pounds in your hands is going to strengthen your grip like no other exercise.
When you grip the barbell, hold the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Your hands should be just outside of your legs.
In the deadlift exercise, you can use an overhand grip or a mixed grip.
The safer grip is the double overhand grip.
This is because you do not subject yourself to a possible biceps tear as you do in the mixed grip.
The advantage of a mixed grip is it will help prevent rotation of the barbell.
And as a result, you will be able to lift heavier weight.
No matter what, you must keep your arms straight. Imagine that they are like hooks to hold the bar.
Never ever attempt to lift the bar with your arms, especially in the mixed grip position.
Hips and Knees Action
Drive back your hips and your knees will bend automatically.
This movement is known as the hip hinge.
You must always start your lift by driving your hips back.
After bending the knees enough to reach the bar, you will be in the correct position.
Lift your chest to straighten your back.
Keeping your back straight and neutral is critical for your own safety.
Proper form will strengthen your back, while poor form can wreck your back, your hamstrings, or even your elbows.
Remember, always respect the deadlift.
In the stiff-legged variation, you keep your legs relatively straight with only a very slight bend in your knees.
However, the stiff-legged deadlift is different from the Romanian variation, even though they appear to be the same lift.
To dive deeper into the differences, see the stiff leg vs the Romanian deadlift.
The sumo deadlift starts off with a much wider stance than the conventional style.
Watch this video to see the sumo variation.
But that is not the best part, because the lifter is almost 90 years old.
This shows you why deadlifts are so important.
Deadlifting can keep you strong into your 90s!
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Rack pulls are an assistance exercise that helps you improve the second phase of the deadlift.
Which is when the bar reaches just below your kneecaps.
And then you need to drive your hips forward and pull the weight up to a standing position.
Here is an example of rack pulls:
Rack Pulls | Lower Back | How-To Exercise Tutorial
Another assistance exercise for the second phase is the dimel deadlift.
For a more in-depth look, see the dimel deadlift.
Trap Bar or Hex Bar
The trap bar deadlift is going to be easier on your back.
This is a valuable option to train the deadlift.
See 9 Hex Bar Deadlift Benefits to Get Fit Without Barbell Deadlifts for more information.
Don’t Neglect Your Powerful Posterior Chain
What happens if you do not deadlift?
Unless you are in construction or a farmer, there is a good chance you will completely neglect your posterior chain.
I also wondered about the posterior chain, what is that?
The bad news is that you never see your posterior chain muscles.
But the good news is that your posterior chain is the primal mover and power of your body.
If you strengthen your posterior chain, you will be more functional, a better athlete, stronger, and look better as well.
Look in a mirror.
Everything that you see is your anterior chain, the front of your body.
When you work muscles that you can see, you are working your mirror muscles.
This is what many men do when they go to the gym.
Do a few sets of shoulder presses with dumbbells, then some dumbbell curls.
After many years of doing shoulder presses, and curls, you wonder why you don’t see more results.
The reason is that you only work the front half, the front muscles of your body.
The ones you can see, like your pectoral muscles, core and quadriceps.
What is a Deadlift Exercise – Wrapping Up
When you neglect an entire half of your body, you are not going to see the results you want.
The posterior chain is the back half of your body.
All the muscles that you cannot see in a mirror.
Like your calves, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, traps, and lats.
Big muscles like your back, gluteus maximus, and back of your legs.
These muscles are the biggest muscles in your body.
Neglecting your posterior chain is tantamount to ignoring the most important muscles you need to build overall strength.
Now, when you wonder which muscles are the deadlift working, you can guess the answer.
The deadlift exercise works all of the major muscle groups of your posterior chain and then some.
Now that you know what a deadlift exercise looks like, you might want to dive deeper into why you should consider deadlifting.
The most important information to understand is:
- What Muscles Do Deadlifts Work?
- How Can Deadlifts Benefit You?
- Can Deadlifting Transform Your Physique?
Once you are determined to deadlift, you also need to know how to get set up so you can train even without access to a gym.
Fortunately, the deadlift is one exercise that does not need a football field, track, baseball field or basketball court to practice.
You only need a minimum amount of deadlift equipment and floor space to create your deadlift studio.
See Best Deadlift Equipment: Home Gym Guide so you can start lifting today!
Because the deadlift can play such a pivotal role in improving your health and fitness, here are some additional related articles about:
#1. Benefits of the Deadlift
- 7 Greatest Deadlift Muscles Worked That Can Change Your Life
- 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast
- 9 Hex Bar Deadlift Benefits to Get Fit Without Barbell Deadlifts
- Why Sumo Deadlift: Form, Muscles Worked, Benefits + How-To
- 27 Sensational Ways How Deadlifts Change Your Body
- How the Deadlift Saved My Life
#2. Learn How-To Deadlift + Form
- How to Deadlift for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide
- How Often Should You Deadlift Per Week; A Beginner’s Guide
- 50 Essential Deadlift Tips and Tricks Every Beginner Should Know
- How Many Deadlift Reps and Sets Should You Do; A Beginners Guide
- 15 Most Important Proper Deadlift Form Tips You Need to Know
#3. Prevent Deadlift Injuries
- How to Prevent Lower Back Pain After Deadlifting
- 5 Simple Steps to Stop Elbow Pain From Lifting Weights
- The Top 10 Deadlift With Proper Form Rules to Prevent Back Pain
- 15 Safe Deadlift Alternatives that Will Protect a Bad Back
#4. Deadlift Workout Programs
- One Great Beginner Deadlift Workout Routine for Powerlifting and Fitness
- 12 Week Deadlift Program for Beginners in Fitness or Powerlifting
- Beginner Powerbuilding Program: Big and Strong Workout + Free PDF
- 3×5 Workout: The Only Strength Training Program You’ll Ever Need
- 5/3/1 for Beginners; Jim Wendler’s Classic Strength Program