Deadlifting is one of the most fear-inducing exercises in the gym. In theory, it’s quite simple: pick the bar up, put it down, repeat. In some respects it is unfortunate that many people are able to lift such huge amount of weight that it becomes intimidating for the casual gym-goer to attempt in front of everyone. Well, I want to change that.
In the past it has been a controversial exercise raising questions about the strain put on the lifter’s back both short and long term. In the last few years we have slowly come to realise that the deadlift is actually very beneficial for your back. A study done by Lars Berglund et al. in 2015 showed that the conventional deadlift can actually improve lower back pain in participants with low levels of back pain. It has also been shown to increase the strength of the muscles in the lower back, glutes, and thighs.
This comes with the most important factor of the deadlift: Form. If done incorrectly the deadlift can place a large amount of strain on your spine and can cause damage both immediately and over time. This can happen when the lifter uses his back to lift the bar and not his legs. The muscles that straighten the back are a lot smaller compared to the muscles in our legs. When it comes to the strength of muscles, size matters.
The ideal technique is to use a “hip-hinge” which lowers your body down in order to get to the bar but still enables your back to remain straight and puts the force of the lift through the hips. This allows the large muscles in your legs (glutes, quads, hamstrings) to share the load and force your hips and knees into a neutral position. This takes a bit of practice but once you master it you will start to enjoy the increased strength in your legs and will take pride in increasing the weight on the bar.
So, whether your goal is to increase your strength, tone up your legs or get rid of that nagging backache, a well-performed deadlift may just be the way to go.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.