The Deadlift Dissected

The deadlift: An often avoided, usually misunderstood compound exercise that has been found to improve your squat and increase your overall lean muscle.

The Deadlift DissectedThis movement requires the lifter to essentially lift “dead weight” from the floor. It has been found to target the hamstrings more effectively than the seated or lying leg curl.

The problem with most people’s training is that they do not deadlift enough or at all.  Programs that call for regular squatting with no deadlifting raise the risk of developing muscular imbalances between your quads and hamstrings, and your lower back and transverses (deep inner) abdominal muscles. So if you do not know how to deadlift, or you just avoid it out of hatred, it may be time to suck it up.

The problem with the deadlift is that it is not a simple exercise. Performing deadlifts improperly can actually result in some serious back issues. To properly deadlift, it helps to first understand what a deadlift is and what it does.

Deadlifts Target many Muscle Groups

This functional movement will work the following muscle groups:

• Spinal Erectors
• Quads
• Glutes*
• Hamstrings*
• Lower Back*
• Middle and Upper Trapezius
• Abdominals and Obliques
• Lats
• Calves

*prime movers

Consistent deadlifting has been found to have numerous benefits. For example, as with all compound lifts, the deadlift is notorious for increasing your body’s ability to release natural testosterone. Increased free testosterone helps improve your overall strength, and aids in building lean mass, lending to an improved body composition. Stacking your deadlifts with TestoFX Loaded can give your body the edge it needs to boost your levels of natural free testosterone. Extra testosterone ensures you remain anabolic from morning to night.

To properly perform this lift, it is important to keep your core muscles tight. Engaging your core muscles will keep the tension off your lower back, and help maintain a straight line in the spine. This in turn lends to increased core stability that will help in all other compound lifts, especially the squat.

Improve your Bench with Deadlifts

If you are looking for a way to improve your bench, the deadlift could be your answer. The deadlift requires you to grasp and lift weight with their bare hands, requiring a larger amount of strength. Heavy deadlifting enables the lifter to gain grip strength that transfers over to the bench press.

Deadlifts Improve Quality of Life

Deadlifts are an important component of functional training, meaning the movement performed can be applied to daily activities and can help improve your quality of life. Similarly, if you suffer from minor back pain and/or stiffness associated with poor posture, the deadlift can help. The spine, used as a stabilizer, becomes strengthened over time and can lead to a stronger back and better posture.

The 3 Major Deadlift Variations

There are three major deadlift variations:

  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift

By including at least two of these in your regular program can help you achieve proper muscular balance and fuller looking legs.

With all three deadlifts, the legs and hips act as the motor, and the back as the transmission. The prime muscles are the same in both the Romanian and stiff-legged deadlift, but are trained in very different ways.

How to Perform the Romanian Deadlift

These deadlifts are most beneficial for size and overall strength.

In the Romanian deadlift the spinal erectors are trained statically, meaning that there is very little movement in the spine throughout the movement.

To perform this lift, begin standing up straight with your hips about shoulder-width apart. The bar should be hanging at arm’s length with the grip of your choice (overhand, switch or hook). Your knees begin slightly bent, and the movement begins at the hips as they are pushed backwards, while your shins remain close to vertical and weight remains on the heels.

Your back should remain straight (or slightly arched) and never round. The bar is lowered as far down as possible but should not touch the ground. Once the lowest position is reached, pause and reverse the movement leading with the hips and torso until you’re again standing straight. That is one rep.

How to Perform the Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Comparatively, with the stiff-legged deadlift, the spinal erectors are trained dynamically.

This variation is primarily used for hamstring and flexibility development. One downfall to the stiff-legged deadlift is that more stress is placed on the low back and spine, making it very important to maintain a straight line with your core engaged.

To properly perform this variation, begin the lift exactly the same way as the Romanian deadlift. With this variation, however, the knees remain relatively straight and there is minimal movement in the hips. The bar is lowered as far as possible without touching the ground. Those with a large range of motion may have to begin on an elevated surface to achieve a full range of motion. When the lowest point is reached, pause and return to a standing position.

How to Perform the Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is perfect for those who suffer from lower back injuries. It helps alleviate some tension from the lower back and targets the quadriceps, thigh abductors and glutes.

Sumo deadlifts are considered an athletic movement requiring flexibility.

With the sumo deadlift, the movement begins at a low “sumo stance” (wide legs, feet pointed outwards and knees bent). The bar is grasped in between your knees, and you rise up using your hips and torso simultaneously. The barbell is kept as close to your body as possible. The pause is at the top, before returning the barbell to the starting position.

If you currently break up your leg training days (i.e. quads and hamstrings), then you have no excuse not to deadlift twice a week. If you don’t…well you still have no excuse. Don’t forget to prime your workout with an effective pre-workout supplement like MusclePrime – the World’s First Pre-Workout Anabolic Response Activator.

Valeria Fazio

Valeria Fazio holds a B.A. Honors degree in history from Carleton University and a diploma in professional writing from Algonquin College. She has been competing in amateur fitness and figure competitions for three years, and has recently qualified for the 2011 Ontario Provincial Figure Championships. As a certified personal trainer and nutritional coach, Valeria helps others in her free time to achieve their fitness goals.

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