An incurable romantic I am. Every so often I find myself falling in love though I do try to avoid it – for rarely is the romance worth the ensuing torment and pain. However, the lure, the intoxication, and the gravity of love anew is persuasive and it gets the better of me every time. It’s as though Alzheimer’s bends time and space before me, that I enter love again and again at light speed, with no sense whatsoever that it will ultimately break me down. Sometimes it’s a new love which captures and consumes me. Other times a previous love crosses my path, and a new spark sets an old flame ablaze in my heart.
It hit me again last month; and old flame whom I had been involved with for years saw me, winked at me, and gestured her index finger to call me back her way. How could I say no? She was one of the best I ever had. She has consumed me with all she can provide, this sweetheart from my past. She offers me much more in many more ways than any other – she completes me. Her name? The Deadlift. God I love you deadlifts, where have you been, for I have missed you so?
Okay, so I’m a bit passionate and a hair twisted when it comes to exercise. But I’m a twisted man with a strong and stable core, powerful hips & glutes, and shoulders that were carved and strengthened by years of regular deadlifting. Why I left her I’ll never know. She was very good to me, deadlifts – unconditional love.
Regular deadlifts gave me a kind of strength that only deadlifts can give when they are done correctly. It’s okay now, dry your eyes, dry your eyes — I’m glad to say that deadlifts and I are back together once again, and this time for keeps. In this instance, however, I’m willing to share her with you and feel no guilt for my infidelity.
Done correctly, deadlifts will make you strong – every day life kind of strong. They will make you stable too; deadlifts can significantly improve your core strength. Deadlifts promote power from the legs, hips, glutes, abdominals and spinal erectors. Deadlifts can condition you as well; they can be cardio intensive, lending themselves to increased cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory fitness. At some point in the course of a deadlift, every muscle in your body fires at least a little bit, and the large profile muscles of the low-back, hips, quadriceps, and glutes fire a lot.
Often thought of as a power exercise, deadlifts are the third element in the sport of powerlifting, and there are men who can pull nearly 1,000 pounds off the floor to stand erect with that weight. That’s impressive but that’s’ definitely not the kind of deadlift I am talking about. The deadlift I’m talking about, although done in the fashion of competitive deadlift, is not about the poundage you use. Rather, my suggested deadlift is about lifting a weight which you might use in every day life, and mastering the form at that weight. A controlled lift, reinforcing the management and synchronicity of one’s mind with one’s muscular strength, emanating from multiple regions of the body. Done correctly, deadlifts can improve the strength of anyone, male or female. Be you triathlete, weekend warrior, golfer, mature adult, or teenager, deadlifts can help you perform better at just about anything. I don’t even consider deadlifts an exercise, I consider them a life-skill.
Done incorrectly, deadlifts can profoundly and negatively affect your back, knees, hips and even neck so pay attention to good form – perfect form, and these will make your life better, not worse:
- A weighted bar rests on the floor or on a pedestal just off the floor just in front of your feet.
- Take your stance; feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Toes are pointed slightly outward.
- Though you are flat-footed, your bodyweight should be more over your heels than toes.
- Squat down, bending at the knees not the hips, to grasp the barbell, maintaining a flat middle back.
- Hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than your legs; one hand with an overhand grip, one hand with an underhand grip. This “mixed” grip will enable better grip strength
- Keeping your weight on your heels you simply stand erect, exhaling as you raise the bar to hang in front of your legs.
- Fully erect, the bar should be crossing mid-thigh.
- Keeping the bar all but touching your legs, you lower the weight back to the ground, not by bending over, but by squatting down and keeping your back as flat as possible, and your shoulders as high as possible.
- On contact with the ground, you stand back up again, leading with the shoulders, and now you’re deadlifting.
I often consider that if I could only do one strength training exercise which one it would be. Low-back extensions always wins that contemplation. Deadlifts, however, run a very close 2nd. Whether it’s picking up a bucket of tools in the garden, a sack of dog food in the garage, or some groceries laying on the kitchen floor, proper deadlifts can prepare you to better lift items in every day life, better than any exercise I know.
If they are new to you, the day after your first deadlifts there is a soreness associated unlike any other muscular soreness you might experience from strength training – it’s an intoxicating inventory of what you are made of, top to bottom. You will know, beyond doubt, what muscles are involved in the deadlift. It’s not a deep, I can’t get out of bed kind of soreness. More so, it’s like a mild blast of soreness buckshot; little pellets of sensation scattered over the back, legs, hips, abs, and shoulders.
Love equals pain, we all know that. But as in romantic love, sometimes the pain actually makes the love worthwhile and a life is enhanced – completed. Learn to love deadlifts, and accept the pain as in any relationship. You will be better for it. I sincerely believe that you and deadlifts can be very happy together – so long as there is compromise and open communication. Well, that’s what Dr. Phil says.