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Is it necessary to perform deadlifts?


A powerlifter getting ready to deadlift heavy weight
Image source: Wallpaper flare

Since the onset of social media and so many fitness influencers creating content on basis of how cool it might look or how "badass" some lifts might seem, it has created a craze among youngsters to perform the same lifts locally in their gyms and while few fitness influencers and coaches do give out quality content and urge you to be safe, most don't have the acumen nor the knowledge to consider safety.

I am most likely indicating the deadlift movement. While I am clearly not making deadlift the villain in this article, my sole purpose is to help you understand what deadlift is and how you can safely get stronger and benefit from this exercise.

Yes, deadlifts are necessary! Why? Because they train the primal movement, our fundamental movement of picking things off the floor. So, when you ask me whether it is necessary to perform deadlifts, I would say "Hell Yes"!


What is a deadlift?

A deadlift is simply a movement that requires you to hinge through your hips, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent. Also known as a "hip hinge" movement, it emphasizes the muscles of the hips - the glute max and the hamstrings and takes the load off your lower back which simply cannot take the brunt as compared to the larger muscles.


The below images from prgrm.com beautifully describes the hip hinge movement using the cue "Tip water out of the bucket":


Diagram depicting a correct form of exercise

With the weights, this should seem like this:


Image showing how to perform hip hinge with weights

Now, what you need to consider is that you are required to perform the unloaded bodyweight hip hinge first to understand the movement correctly and only then load it slowly and gradually until you can lift heavier weights using the correct muscles.


Steps for hip hinging:

  1. Stand straight with your hands by your side.

  2. Keeping your knees loose, push your hips back as far as possible. Let there be a slight bend in the knees. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings as well.

  3. Once you cannot push the hips back any further, that is your range of motion.

  4. You can learn using hip hinge against a wall or an object as shown below.

A diagram depicting the hip hinge exercise with wall cue
Image source: Liftnwander.com . Skeleton taken from Prgrm.com

The several forms of deadlifts:

While it is essential to perform the hip hinge because it is very healthy for your spine and keeps you stronger all the time, it is no where required for you to perform the movement using a certain equipment only. I am talking about the standard barbell deadlift off the floor. While the barbell deadlift is essential for professional powerlifters and weightlifters because of the competition requirement, for general population and even for athletes training for other sports, the barbell seriously limits their potential.

Understand it in this way. We all have different heights and bodily structures - Someone's torso is longer, someone's legs are longer, some people have longer arms, some have shorter, some have limited joint mobility and restriction in certain movements in their bodies. Considering all these factors, how can one standard barbell be lifted off the same height ( a typical 45lb/20kg plate with the same diameter : 450mm) in the most efficient way?

Rings a bell?

Therefore, as strength coaches, our job is to make you train as per your training ability while getting you all the benefits that one might get off a standard exercise. While there are so many tools out there to taper workouts according to your goals and body, in the case of the deadlift, I can simply ask you to:

  1. Use a different equipment : You can use a trap bar (hex bar) which gives the flexibility of a neutral handle and height adjustment. Use kettlebells, dumbbells, bands, stones, medicine balls, you name it!

  2. Switch up your stance: You don't need to necessarily deadlift on both your feet. There are so many benefits of going unilateral - one leg at a time. Not only will this have you work your core harder to balance the body, it also takes lesser load to get a good stimulation in the muscles.

  3. Change the position of the load: If you are stuck with the standard barbell only, why not place it on two boxes at a height or lift it off the pins in the power rack?

  4. Play around with the strength curve: In case of the deadlift, we are weakest at the bottom and strongest on the top one-third of the movement. By using chains or resistance bands with the load, you will have the least load at the bottom where you tend to get out of position and the heaviest load at the top where you are strongest. This is a good choice when you are limited with using a barbell only and still want to gain the strength benefits from the exercise. This also provides amazing benefits by developing explosive strength/power.

As strength coaches, our job is to make you train as per your training ability while getting you all the benefits that one might get off a standard exercise.
Forms of deadlift exercise.
All these are deadlifts. Choose your version and get stronger. Image source: Liftnwander.com

Keep deadlifting and getting stronger!


More Strength!

Be the Outlaw!


__________________________________________________________________________________

Hi,

Thank you for reading this article, I hope it added some value to you and made you think in a positive direction.

I am Vidhu Mahana, a certified Strength and Nutrition Coach and an avid Traveler. If you wish to be a part of my fitness information and coaching and travel diaries, do connect with me on Instagram through my below handles:


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