DID YOU KNOW ?
In recent years, the Deadlift has become one of the most cherished lifts in the fitness environment and is now even a staple in the work-out routine of many gym-enthusiasts, who pursue a bodybuilding-type weight-training program to improve their physique and body-composition.
Indeed, there seem to be many good reasons to also include this highly functional and most challenging hip-hinge powerlifting exercise in any fitness- or bodybuilding-oriented training program. After all, the Deadlift is a compound movement that works more muscles than any other exercise and has a high potential for strength gains and progressive overload. It increases strength in most major muscle groups, primarily targeting the entire “posterior chain” of the body, i.e. calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back, along with the quadriceps and the core; many non-powerlifters perform the Deadlift to either build a bigger back or to build bigger legs. Since there are so many muscles involved, one can deadlift more weight than in any other exercise. The Deadlift doesn’t require a spotter and is relatively safe; at least, one won’t get crushed by the loaded bar when failing in a lift. And when done correctly, it will not unduly stress any of the major joints, but rather serve to strengthen them.
All these valid reasons have led gym-enthusiasts and even trainers to believe that it is not possible to build an outstanding physique without the deadlift, and that deadlifting is essential, if developing superior overall muscle mass and core strength is desired. But is this really true ?
Many successful bodybuilders actually never include regular deadlifting in their work-out routines, but nevertheless manage to build most impressive physiques. They may perform the Deadlift now and then to test their strength, or when playfully competing with training partners and friends. Surprisingly though, even without focusing on developing maximum strength and without ever regularly training the deadlift, they can yet often hoist quite impressive weight-loads off the ground.
One reason for this may be that a proper bodybuilding-type weight training program actually includes training all the muscles, which are involved in the deadlift, although in a more direct way and more specific to the goals pertaining to a bodybuilding-oriented weight-training routine. In fact, one may rightfully argue that all the muscles that the deadlift engages, can actually be developed more effectively by performing an appropriate selection of direct exercises for these muscles.
Indeed, it is very possible to develop an exceptional physique and even acquire significant strength without ever performing regular Deadlift training; the Deadlift is not compulsory and not even a highly efficient movement for anyone, who engages in bodybuilding-type weight-training to optimize their physique and body composition.
Some bodybuilders and fitness athletes may actually be better off to exclude the conventional Deadlift from their work-outs. This applies especially to those, who have a pre-existing lower back injury or joint issues, those who have poor spinal posture, those who feel pain during the movement, even though they are properly supervised, and those who do not have the requisite flexibility or leverages to pull safely off the floor. The conventional deadlift is an exercise that puts a huge load on the lower back, and anyone, who has a tendency towards excess rounding of the lower back, should avoid the deadlift as well as other exercises, which put strain on the lower back. One of the most basic requirements to execute a safe Deadlift is the ability to maintain a neutral spine during the entire lift; unless this vital aspect of technique is not perfectly mastered, the risk to reward ratio is simply not worth performing the deadlift, as there are lurking many chances to get hurt.
Generally, anyone who strives to develop an aesthetic bodybuilder-type physique, and especially those with any of the above mentioned health concerns, may be best advised to stick to a bodybuilding-type weight-training routine, which does not include the Deadlift. On the other hand, anyone, who wants to compete and excel in powerlifting, should train like a powerlifter and must regularly deadlift.
Finally, here is a tip for those bodybuilders, who simply enjoy to deadlift, master its technique, and may still want to include it in their work-out routines for increasing core- and overall strength, for improving posture, for enhancing their performance in other direct bodybuilding exercises, for its carry-over to various sports- and fitness-activities, or for its practical applications in everyday life.
In order to get the most out of your Deadlift training and to stay safe, it is important to not only maintain perfect form during the concentric lifting phase of each repetition, but also throughout the eccentric phase when lowering the bar back to the ground again. This involves to basically reverse the order of the lift: keep the muscles of your back and core tight throughout the motion and just hinge at the hips and knees to bring the weight down, maintaining a neutral spine until the barbell rests on the floor. As the eccentric phase of any exercise usually stimulates the most muscle growth, placing special emphasis on lowering the weight in a controlled and slow manner will increase the total time that the engaged muscles are exposed to tension, which will increase overall muscle growth. If it should not be possible for you to maintain proper form while lowering the barbell, you should lower the weight until you are capable to do so.