Is Deadlift The Ultimate Functional Fitness Exercise?
If there was only exercise in the world you could do what would it be?
Perhaps many would choose the Squat as it has been called “The King of Exercises”.
Some may pick the Bench Press just to keep up with those who keep asking “How Much Do You Bench?”
But ask yourself how often do you find yourself performing the Squat position in a single day?
In the same token, how frequently do you press an object off your chest?
Now ask yourself:
• How often do you pick up objects from the floor?
• Do you have great difficulty moving furniture around the house or office?
• How much time do you spend sitting down in a typical day?
These are all day-to-day functions that involve the legs, lower back, hips, abdominals, upper back, shoulders and arms.
If you are thinking “Hmm… that’s too much muscle for a simple task”, then I’m thinking you’re not performing these simple tasks correctly.
The Deadlift is the most basic and simplest exercise you can ever do.
It is as basic as bending over and picking up an object from the floor.
But it is the most effective exercise in building overall strength and muscle mass because it utilises every muscle in the body.
Although the Deadlift primarily hits the entire back complex, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus muscles, calves and hips it also activates and engages every other muscle above and in between.
From your neck down to your calves, the Deadlift recruits every muscle fibre to lift the barbell from the floor.
Deadlifts will strengthen your muscles, bones, connective tissue and ligaments.
It will improve your mobility and flexibility and greatly reduce the risk of injury to your hips, knees and lower back.
It is more challenging to do the Deadlift than the Squat or the Bench Press because it does not have the advantage of the “Kinetic Chain”.
When you Squat or Bench Press, you are applying forces on the bar as you descend to the bottom position.
Think of the descent of the Squat as having to go through different “links” of a chain: the core, hips and knees.
As you push your heels forcefully through the floor all the built up energy is transferred back or returned into an explosive, powerful rep that engages the knees, hips and core.
There is no kinetic chain with the Deadlift. You are literally lifting dead weight from the floor.
You are applying forces on the bar to break inertia and get it moving up and off the floor from its stationary position. These forces are recruited from every muscle fibre in your body.
This is why you need correct form and precise technique when performing the Deadlift.
Despite its basic function and simplistic movement, there is proper sequence to be observed in order to Deadlift effectively and safely.
If you make a mistake in the sequence, you could severely injure your lower back, hips or hamstrings.
Here’s a 3-step process to understand the mechanics of the Deadlift:
Step 1 – Start the lift with your legs; push your heels hard on the floor.
Step 2 – As the bar nears the bottom of your knees, push your hips forward.
Step 3 – Drop your shoulders as you approach top position.
People make the mistake of initiating the Deadlift with their lower back.
So they start with their hips in line with the upper back and legs nearly straightened out. This places your lower back and hips in a very dangerous position.
Granted no one lifts 100 kilos every day in their home, school or place of work.
But the mechanics and technique of the Deadlift should be applied even when picking up a box of Christmas decorations from the floor.
How basic is the Deadlift? The starting position is similar to your body position when you are sitting on a chair.
Your hips are higher than your knees and your back is flat. Now stand up without pushing off the arm rest.
When you stand up from the chair and push off from your heels, it is easier. But if you bend forward from the lower back and raise your hips, you will feel discomfort.
The basic mechanics of the Deadlift are used in many everyday functions. This is why it may be the single most important exercise you should do.
The stronger you get in the Deadlift, the easier it would be to perform everyday tasks.