Written by, Coach Vanessa Panella
Hips Don't Lie
You've probably heard a lot about the deadlift. Maybe ever performed it a few times in the gym. And if you've ever gone to a class or worked with a coach before you definitely done this movement. Have you ever wondered why EVERY coach has taught you this move and had you do it before. Why are we so in love with the hip hinge?
First things first. Let's clarify that there are LOTs of ways to perform the deadlift. Lots of factors go into how coaches decide what too and what position we have you perform. Therefore, all the equipment that is used to perform the deadlift is valid; barbells, trap bar, kettlebells, and sandbags all fit this bill. But, after working for a commercial gym for years, I can tell you that this is the one movement that I got the most push back from clients from.
"I can't do that. I have a bad back."
"I've heard those are bad for you"
"I'm not trying to be a bodybuilder/powerlifter"
Well I'm here to tell you that deadlifting isn't just for athletes or professional weight lifters or body builders. They are a great exercise for everyone.
Foundation and Injury Prevention
Before deadlifting we definitely want to make sure that you have the prerequisites to pick some weight off the ground. We need to make sure that the hip hinge is where it should be. One of the easiest ways to test this out is called "the three point test" and it's super simple to perform on your own or at any gym that has dowels or PVC pipes for mobility. Place a dowel along the spine where it should be touching at three points: the back of your head, your mid-back (in between the shoulder blades), and where your low back meets your glutes. As you hinge forward ALL THREE points should still be touching the dowel. If you find that you are consistently missing a point or something feels off or painful when adjusting the hinge position refer to a coach for assistance. Also, if you have specific injuries that you are concerned about with this movement also refer to your doctor and a coach so we can help you continue to live your best life.
The deadlift is amazing for weight loss. Especially if you are low on time either during the day or during the week. A well programmed deadlift set should take anywhere from 30-50 minutes to complete (this includes the warm up). The deadlift requires the use of your entire body working together to pick the weight off of the ground. It's effectively the most "bang for your buck" movement. Your heart rate will likely stay in that "blue zone" of fat burning during the duration of the exercise. Which is the most ideal for fat loss.
Not only does your body burning those calories during the workout, but you're also burning when you aren't in the gym and even while you sleep. When you tear down muscle in the gym you have to recovery and build back that tissue stronger when you aren't exercising. If something breaks on your car, and you have to take it to the shop to fix it, what is the most expensive part of that bill?? LABOR. You get charged the most for labor on that car. That is how your body feels about healing from after a workout. It requires currency to re-build what was worked out in the gym. And that comes in the form of calorie burn at rest (yes even when you are sleeping).
Provided you have a balanced nutrition plan that goes along with your programming the deadlift is an amazing addition to your program to help drive you forward in your goals.
Cosmetic and Functional Gains
If you're looking to build muscle and get stronger. Look no further than the deadlift. In my humble opinion, if you are looking to do anything from get trim for summer, do the next strong man competition, or even get our first pull up you need to be doing deadlifts somewhere in your programming. The movement pattern is simply the most effective at strengthening the posterior chain and promoting proper posture. A lot of the same principles apply from the weight-loss section have some crossover here. But if you feed a heavy lifting program, that involves deadlifts at its core, you can increase your overall gains in the gym. Deadlifting sends a powerful signal to the body to build muscle. If you are feeding that system to put on that lean body mass you will see a significant increase in your overall lean body mass next time you do your Inbody measurements.
Also, we should not forget that a proper hip hinge/deadlift is the prerequisite to things like kettlebell swings. If you are a functional fitness person and you want to work with kettlebells or have pain from things like the kettlebell swing. We should go back to our hinge/deadlift pattern and see where the breakdown is.
Running and OCR Carry Over
The deadlift is going to have a lot of crossover in the running and OCR world. For OCR you'll improve your ability to do...well everything.
The biggest gain from deadlifts, that you will all appreciate, is your grip strength.
If you've ever wanted to improve your grip deadlifts should be on your list right next to your deadhangs and farmer carries.
The movement also teaches you to have an open chest under tension. Which will counter the effects of things like sitting at a desk all day, and even for our peeps that are on their feet all day. So this also makes the deadlift a great movement for the weekend warrior.
The deadlift will also help with your running mechanics. The primary mover when you are move forward is your glutes and your core. This is the powerhouse of the deadlift, and this is why our runners should have a strong deadlift. It is the single most beneficial accessory movement for our runners. Whether you're a couch to 5k or a seasoned ultra distance athlete. This should not be something that you ignore. Good strength training will help, not only with performance, but also injury prevention. The deadlift also strengthens the core (which supports the low back), all the muscles that support your spine being in an upright position, and the connective tissues that hold everything together. We sometimes forget that muscles don't do all the work, connective tissue is also extremely important. I hear more about torn ACLs than torn hamstrings or shin splints. You don't just send a signal to the muscle to get stronger, but also your tendons and ligaments that support your ability to perform at your best and enjoy the activities that you love.
I'm sure you heard a lot of the same wording through all the segments. Or maybe you skipped to what you identified with. I would have done the same so no worries. But the point of this article is, no matter what you do or what time of life you are at, Deadlifting should definitely be a part of the program. Whether it's performance, health, weight loss, or muscle gain, a properly executed Deadlift will help.