Why deadlifts are a staple movement in your training.

Deadlifts are one of my favourite movements – both to teach and to do myself. The Wikipedia definition of a deadlift is ‘a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, torso perpendicular to the floor, before being placed back on the ground.’ This is quite a confining definition. In its simplest form, a deadlift can be described as lifting something weighted off the ground and putting it back down again.

In life, we generally use 7 different movement patterns. These are: locomotion, squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull and rotation. Fitness means a lot of different things to different people, however, without some form of each of these movements, we wouldn’t be able to train to get fitter, stronger and leaner. I’d like to delve further into this topic, but I think it deserves a post of its own. The deadlift fits into the hinge pattern. An example of the hinge pattern in everyday life would be dropping a pen and bending down from the hips to pick it up.

Some form of deadlift is essential to keeping this movement pattern healthy. They develop strength in the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, core, posterior chain and grip. They also assist other areas of training by increasing power, speed, releasing growth hormones and can help to reduce body fat; all while helping to reduce the risks of osteoporosis and lower back pain (common causes are weak glutes and tight hamstrings). There’s a reason I put some form of deadlift in all of my clients plans and incorporate it regularly into my own training – with all these benefits it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t. Plus, a heavy lift can make you feel pretty epic.

Deadlifting is one of the three powerlifting movements. With that being said, performing this lift wrong can be very dangerous. The key to this lift is challenging yourself, but not so much that form disappears. For example, having a curved spine during a deadlift can cause spinal injury or tear lower back muscles. Working on accessory lifts such as squats and hip thrusts, as well as regular hinge pattern drills should limit the risk of injury. As with learning any powerlifting or Olympic movement, my advice would always be to hire a professional to coach you, and have regular form checks to make sure you’re staying safe as the load increases. The investment of hiring someone with knowledge in this area is nothing compared to risking back injury which could put you out of training for a long time. The conventional deadlift may not be for you; you may need to use modifications or different forms of deadlift to advance to this – a good PT will be able to determine what’s best for you and use the adaptations needed which you not may be able to identify yourself.

All in all, deadlifts can do a lot for you and your training when they’re done right!

Alix x

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