In the late 1800’s a newspaper advertisement promoted a simple exercise machine called the Health Lift which claimed to be the only physical exercise a person needed to boost health, strength and fitness – instantly.
Today that particular exercise has another name, the dead lift and it’s still considered the “king” of all exercises and the key to core strength building movement.
Unfortunately, now-a-days, when it comes to exercise, we’re way too fixated on sculpting our abdominal muscles and developing “six-packs” while ignoring or spending little time on our core or spinal muscles…the ones we use daily.
However, the “core” (pertaining to the central muscles of the body) is a key element and health component and important in terms of maintaining balance and weight transference. Every movement and position that the body assumes is supported by a strong core.
Using lots of muscles at one time is what you should aim for in your exercise program and the dead lift fits the bill. It is the most effective exercise you can perform for building overall core strength that supports all other major muscle groups.
When multiple muscle groups are employed at once, the exercise is considered “functional,” meaning it has “real world” uses. The simple task of squatting to the floor and picking up an object represents baseline functionality.
Although this most basic essential human movement is a general measure of strength it also represents youthfulness, vitality and independence. After all, once you are limited in how you bend, squat and reach for things, your independence has all but evaporated.
Although not a favorite by the general public (maybe it should revert to its older name “the health lift” to shift people’s perception) when it comes to transforming the body, boosting health and overall body strength the dead lift is second to none. In fact, this compound exercise could actually be considered the perfect movement.
This exercise is not for sissies…it is a tough exercise but when done correctly with the right intensity, works wonders. And, because the dead lift hits the largest amount of muscle groups at one go it is one of the most powerful metabolism boosters there is. Boost your metabolism and you increase the rate your body burns up fuel (calories) and loses fat. You’ll even be burning calories even when seemingly at rest watching your favorite television program – how’s that for extended benefits?
Dead lift –
The quadriceps (front of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs), glutes (buttocks), and upper back muscles are all employed when performing the dead lift correctly. These muscles hold your body straight and maintain correct posture which is more important than ever with our modern “desk-bound” sedentary type jobs.
Although there are various types of equipment you can use for the dead lift, the barbell dead lift is ideal because it addresses both ends of the strength spectrum. For beginners, a 20 kilo (45 pound) bar is perfect to get started and it can be loaded up in increments to several hundred kilos or more making it ideal for strength progression.
If you’re looking for an aerobic hit, then you can perform some high intensity dead lifts that tax the body big time. You can power though 15 repetition sets leaving you gasping for air or change it up and do heavy low-repetition sets (4-6 range).
It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female or what you age is, if you want to get stronger then there is no other exercise that is more efficient at strengthening the entire body while teaching proper lifting mechanics than the dead lift.
It’s best to perform the dead lift in front of a mirror when beginning or under proper supervision until you get the form right. Always begin with lighter weight and concentrate on learning technique first until you get your form satisfactory.
When performing a dead lift, the bar starts on the floor – you must pull it from a fixed position. In order to perform safely make sure to get your hips as low as you possibly can before starting your lift and do not round your back.
Place your hands so they grip the bar just outside your legs with your fee shoulder width apart. Avoid looking down and do not bend your arms.
Make sure you are lifting with the legs and not the arms and shoulders when beginning. The most common fault is the loss of the lumbar curve. This means that the load you are lifting is too heavy or you do not have the movement down right yet. Reduce the weight and continue to practice until you get it.
Listen to your body. Make sure you are training your body and not your ego. If you feel any pain at all…especially in the lower back, stop immediately.
The dead lift is the king of all exercises. It works wonders on both your fitness and strength because it works every muscle in the body. It is one of the most physically demanding exercises you can perform and requires a strong back, strong legs, a strong grip and a good dose of mental toughness. You’ll also need to set aside ample time for recovery. Dead lifts should only be performed once per week, performing no more than 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
The dead lift is the perfect a ‘anti-aging’ remedy and your ticket to rebuilding lost muscle, rehabilitating your back, increasing over all body strength, building bone strength and improving athletic performance.
A quick boost in general strength and a real sense of power are two benefits you’ll enjoy by including dead lifts in your exercise program.
Without a doubt, for optimal health and longevity, the original “health lift” should be a staple in your weekly regime.
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