Regardless of your sport or even lack thereof, deadlifting is important. The benefits are abundant and regardless of your goals, deadlifts will help you to accomplish them. Whether you are trying to improve athletic performance, lose weight, get stronger, prevent injury, or just impress gym bae- you’ve got to deadlift. Let’s look at the top 5 reasons below.
Speaking from a purely functional standpoint, the deadlift is a motion you likely do every day, even if unloaded. Being able to pick up an object off the floor and have the body control and strength to do it safely is important. Whether it’s moving boxes, picking up your kids, or just picking up a piece of paper off the floor, training for positional awareness and strength will make you move better as a human.
2. Muscle building
Deadlifts use everything. Few other exercises use as much as the deadlift does. From traps to mid back to grip to glutes to calves, there are very few muscles the deadlift will not require. Granted, there are two main types of deadlifts- conventional and sumo- each which emphasize different muscles. We can go to war over which is better like I’m sure you’ve seen many lifters do, but there are benefits to both, regardless of your preference.
Conventional will demand more of your back, glutes, and hamstrings. It requires 5-10% more torso lean, which demands slightly more of the posterior chain. The erector spinae will become more pronounced after consistent training than with sumo, and this is due to 25-40% more mechanical work than the sumo deadlift.
Pulling sumo will require more upright shins and torso. The knee flexion is also significantly greater, which will utilize more quads. There is also the benefit of a shorter range of motion, which some people may need. Not all people have the mobility to train in a wide stance long-term, so it’s not meant for everyone, just as conventional is not meant for everyone, either.
With consistent training, you’ll see your back, both upper and lower, become more defined, your traps develop more prominently, and mostly your butt muscles, hamstrings, and calves grow greatly… (tell me one person who doesn’t want a nicer butt… you can’t). Consistency is key, though. You can’t get anywhere if you’re lifting once a week or month.
Bottom line is, both are great. Find what works best for you, train it, master it, grow from it. Consult a coach if you’re unsure which is ideal for your body type. But bear in mind, competing and training are vastly different. If you’re competing, use what you are best at. If you’re training for hypertrophy (muscle gain), try doing what you’re weaker at to bring everything into equilibrium.
3. Performance enhancement
Vertical power. Explosiveness. Strength. All things needed in any sport. Not to mention the hip extension strength. Which translates well to… many activities… But on a serious note, developing vertical power with a barbell will allow athletes to jump higher, sprint faster, and explode more powerfully. Your barbell cleans will increase from the vertical power as well as hip extension training. The glute strength obtained from deadlifts will translate very well over to athletic activities, given that the glutes are responsible for most of the power in any athletic movement.
4. Injury prevention
“But Coach Scrima, I hear about so many people hurting themselves on deadlifts, how can you possibly say deadlifts will help prevent injury?!” Negate this notion entirely that deadlift always cause injury. People get injured when they lift incorrectly or lift with their egos. When done mindfully, the deadlift is a great injury preventer.
Not only will training deadlifts prevent acute injury but will also prevent long-term overuse injuries that can occur from muscular imbalances. Those who sit a lot for work will understand this pain especially. Your erector spinae will adapt to lifting heavy loads, your glutes firing properly help to reduce strain from your low back, core strength improves, hip flexors resume full length especially under heavy loads, and positional awareness greatly improves.
Weak glutes lead to low back injuries, especially in conjunction with a weak core, tight hip flexors, and tight hamstrings. A way to combat this? Deadlifts. Strong glutes come from strong deadlifts. Don’t get me wrong- I can’t say for 100% certainty you’ll never get injured, but I can say you will have a much lower risk of injury if you are deadlifting correctly and regularly. If you have to sit for your job, chances are you’re at risk for this mysterious low back pain. The core & glute strength paired with the mobility of hips and hamstrings required for a perfect deadlift help to combat this pain and prevent it.
But I recommend finding a coach who knows what they’re doing to teach you how to deadlift properly; don’t run the risk of injury because your ego led you astray.
5. To be a complete badass
There is no feeling like being able to rip some heavy weight off the floor and stand it all the way up- feeling every muscle in your body fire powerfully. I mean, imagine gym bae checking you out after seeing you hit a beautiful deadlift PR… Wouldn’t that be great? But really, having a powerful deadlift is a great feeling and one that men and women, athletes and leisure exercisers, powerlifters and runners, should all train and master.
Do you want to learn how to deadlift perfectly? Send me an email to the address below and we’ll get you started. Already have a perfect deadlift? Tag me in a video on Instagram to show off (@alyscrima).
Yours in health,
Coach Aly Scrima