Epitomizing the term “compound movement,” deadlifting uses nearly every muscle in your body, from your traps all the way down to your calves.  For both men and women, this exercise will create a huge change in your overall appearance, musculature, and assist in decreasing body fat as well as strengthen your core and protect your lower back if done properly.

The main goal: lift a heavy load off the floor without 1. bending over or 2. flexing or hyperextending your spine.  Easier said than done right?

At the start, the deadlift brings the hamstrings and quads into play to break the weight from the floor.  The lower back is also stimulated from the very beginning and remains tense and contracted to keep the weight moving upward and back.  From the middle of the range of motion to lockout, the lats, traps, and rhomboids are heavily engaged to keep the weight in close to the body.  Finally, the forearms, biceps, and overall grip strength are taxed to the limit to hold on to heavy weights.

While people are quick to toss around the term “functional strength” with little real meaning, it surely applies to the deadlift.  The foremost example of this application to real-life scenarios is in picking things up off the ground, especially heavy objects that require a strong back and grip such as very large babies. Furthermore, nearly every contact sport contains situations such as checking, tackling, and jumping that involve a large, quick transference of energy from the lower body to the upper body or another object.

Just as with any exercise that strongly involves the lower back, the deadlift heavily taxes the abdominals and core musculature, as well.  These muscles tense and tighten during the movement to help keep the lower back contracted and in position.  If you have never deadlifted before, your first few sessions may very well leave your abs more sore than any targeted abdominal workout you have ever done.

Basically, if your main goal is to increase strength and decrease your bodyfat, this should be your go-to exercise.  Deadlifts can be done with any free weight piece of equipment such as Kettlebells, dumbbells, a barbell, sandbags,  a weight plate, or a very large baby.

Written by Steve