By Derek Grant
Deadlifts deliver tremendous bang for your exercise buck, simultaneously training many major muscle groups, including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and forearms/grip. In fact, no other exercise hits all of these muscles as efficiently as a well-executed deadlift. That's why they show up in ARX workouts so often.
This highly functional lift, which strengthens the posterior chain (including glutes, hamstrings and low back) helps you with everyday activities, like bending over to tie your shoes or lifting a heavy bag of groceries onto the kitchen countertop. Strengthening the muscles of the posterior chain also reduces the chance of injury to the lumbar area and hamstrings. Weak hamstrings are a major risk factor for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, patellofemoral (knee) pain, and a host of other problems.
Further, deadlifting with proper form can help improve overall posture by strengthening lower back and abdominal muscles. This is key for adults - especially those who sit (slouch) at a desk all day.
Here are a few tips to help you perform deadlifts efficiently and safely:
- Keep your abs tight and engaged for the entire lift and maintain a straight back. A rounded back will put excessive strain on your lumbar region and not only negate the benefits of this exercise but also put you at risk of a low-back injury.
- Keep the bar as close to you as possible - almost roll it up your shins until you get to your knees, and then roll it up your thighs until you're upright.
- As you bring the bar past your knees, thrust forward with your hips
- Keep your head up and chest out as you lift to keep your back properly aligned
- As you bring the weight up, straighten your legs and lock out your hips. You should form a straight line with your hips, knees and feet.
To build functional strength keep repetitions in the 4-8 rep range and complete 3-5 sets. Form tends to falter when performing higher reps per set.
A word of caution: some exercises, including deadlifts, may not be suitable for individuals with any history of injury so be sure to check with a medical professional before beginning any new activity or program. For a demonstration of correct deadlift form speak to your ARX trainer.