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It has been called the King of Lifts. My friend Laura is truly obsessed with them. I love them almost as much as I love my kettlebells.
Deadlifts are an amazing lift and an incredibly versatile one.
Moreover, they are an incredibly complex one, which always makes the perfectionist in me extremely pleased.
Most of my clients will get a deadlift or two in their session, and I try and incorporate them also in my classes. The deadlift is one of the 3 core lifts for power lifters, along with the squat and the bench press.
The beauty of it is that all you need to do is lift something up and put it back down – another reason why I call it versatile (and very easy to apply in real life).
As you build solid form deadlifting in the gym, using better form when picking things up in real life will become second nature. This means you’ll be less likely to injure yourself now and later down the line.
Performed correctly, the deadlift will strengthen your body, challenge every muscle across your posterior chain (imagine a line that goes from your neck to your heels) as well as really test your grip strength and core stability.
There are plenty of articles explaining how to perform a deadlift, however, I do believe that a trainer or coach is your best resource when getting started.
All about the form
A few things that I see again and again with my clients: start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the bar touching your shins. Really get used to the overhand grip (hook grip allowed) instead of going for a 35kg mixed grip (hands facing different directions). Also, open up your shoulders. Of course, you have to brace your core, but if you still feel like you are not really sure whether you are really engaging your abs, using swings as part of your dynamic prep will definitely help.
Some of my personal tweaks
This is what I found really works for me when it comes to deadlifts: lift in flat shoes – love my Converse – or in socks or barefoot. It gives me a stable platform to lift from and really helps me with tweaking my movement pattern.
You cannot escape this: to deadlift heavy weights your hands have to hold the barbell firmly – that’s where strengthening your grip comes in. I wrote a rather lengthy article on the matter, so I definitely recommend reading this one.
A few accessory exercises I love to do
- Farmer’s walks: I talked about this in my Foundry review – they are such a great exercise to improve posture and remind you to open up the chest.
- Beast hold and walks: Helps to train you at keeping your core nice and tight – no need to explain why that is important.
- Kettlebell swing: You know I love those bells, but please do not be mistaken. I am not biased at all when it comes to the importance of swings help you strengthen your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings, while training you to be more efficient with explosive movements.
- Rows, hanging and ring work: engaging your lats is as important as keeping your core tight. I personally love ring work and hanging (or assisted pull-ups) but even the rower will help you engage the lats effectively.
True deadlift inspiration
A few of the most inspiring deadlifts include Eddie Hall (with a 500kg deadlift) and Becca Swanson’s 305kg deadlift. However, yours truly performed this lift herself, and I must say she was not too bad herself (I know speaking in the third person is rather cringy, I hereby promise not to do it ever again).