Updated: Aug 18, 2019
Did you know, deadlifting is the one weightlifting exercise that works almost all your body's muscles?
Out of the big 3 exercises - deadlifts, squats and bench press - deadlifts work the most muscles, engaging all the important muscle groups. From your hamstrings and quads to your back and triceps, all the way to your forearms. If that is not enough to convince you to start working on your deadlifts, here are 7 more reasons why you should:
1. Simultaneous body strengthening
Again, deadlifts work all the important muscle groups. So as you work your deadlifts and increase the weight, you are strengthening your body, from your quads and hamstrings, to your lower back and core, all the way to your arms and shoulders. You also gain a more powerful hip thrust and develop a stronger pull for workouts.
2. Increased fat burning
If you want the ultimate exercise to lose weight quickly, deadlifts is your answer. Much of this has to do with your entire body working out. Not even aerobic training makes such a huge difference. There is a study to prove it. Overweight subjects were divided to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics and weights. All lost weight, but the group with aerobics and weights lost 44% and 35% more than the diet-only and diet plus aerobics group respectively. Basically, adding aerobic training only did not result in a significant fat loss over dieting alone.
3. Training your posterior chain
The posterior muscles of your body - back, hamstrings and glutes) are often underdeveloped and overlooked. This mistake often leads to an imbalanced musculature, terrible posture and poor hip drive. Training your posterior muscles will also increase your core strength as your abs and obliques need to be engaged for the right form. This strength increase will pull your hip forward so that your back does not over-arch and result in hyperlodosis.
If you are an athlete, deadlifts are even more important for you as your posterior chain muscles are like an engine to a car. Strengthening the chain will generate more power, explosion and control. The good posture will also help with a range of motion, giving rise to bigger and better movements.
4. Altering your hormone levels
Deadlifting triggers your body to produce three hormones - testosterone, growth and cortisol. Each hormone has a dedicated effect on your body.
Testosterone helps with muscle repair and growth of additional muscle tissue (to the ladies, you produce testosterone too, just at lesser amounts compared to men).
The growth hormone is responsible for tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and fat loss. Intense training with short periods of rest will stimulate the production of these hormones greatly.
Cortisol allows for generation of energy by degrading other tissues, including muscles. The hormone levels may rise when you wait too long between sets during training. This may be useful when you are trying to tone up, but if you are looking to grow and bulk, keep your rest period short (about 1 minute max) to keep cortisol levels suppressed.
5. Staying injury-free
With the increased strength and flexibility developed from deadlifts, it will help with other exercises that you do - in isolation movements or other specific compound movements. An immediate strength gain will be felt, especially in your grip.
You also prevent injuries from happening as the increased strength of your muscles around critical tendons and ligaments supports the joints.
6. The safest weightlifting exercise
You will not be pinned under the weight like bench presses or worry about the weight pulling your backwards like squats. You are in total control when you deadlift eliminating the need for a spotter. If you feel like you are in trouble, just drop the weight on the ground.
7. Increased cardio
Doing 10 reps of deadlifts will literally take your breath away. You will feel sweat dripping down your face and you would want to just take a seat. Trying to increase your cardiovascular ability further? Deadlifts are a functional workout so there are variations to it: Sumo, Romanian, trap bar, off-set, rack-up, elevated, etc. Each variation gives the opportunity for you to work a little more on a different muscle or stage of pull to improve the overall lift.
A little motivation:
Richard "the Ant" Hawthorne is the World's Strongest Man (pound-for-pound). At only 5 feet 3.5 inches tall, the 34-year-old swears by deadlifts and has been training constantly to achieve a world record of 275kg while only weighing 60kg himself.
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