Deadlifts - some people swear by them, other people hate them. Along with crunches, deadlifts are one of the exercises that seem to spark controversy in the training community. So why is this exercise so hotly debated - and more importantly, should you be doing it?
The main complaint I've heard from people (gym-goers, trainers, PTs, doctors) is a fear of back injuries from a deadlift/back pain or discomfort during a deadlift. I want people to know that they shouldn't be afraid of this - a deadlift can actually HELP people with back pain in the long run, by strengthening the core and lower body - IF performed with the proper technique! When performed correctly, the deadlift is pretty much a full body exercise - It demands work from more muscles than just about any other compound exercise out there. It's also super functional, as anyone who has ever tried to move a couch or bed can tell you. So how do you begin to enjoy building deadlifts into your workout routine? If the benefits I listed above don't motivate you, try taking a moment to think about when you use this hinge pattern in life and/or sport - the things you really enjoy doing - and what it would mean if you were better at it. Then, incorporate the version of a deadlift that is most functional for you.
There are many variations out there! For example, if you're a yogi, you'd probably enjoy the benefits of a weighted single-leg RDL, which would transfer nicely to a stronger and more stable Warrior 3, with the closed hip every yoga teacher cues for. If you're a runner, add a knee drive or reverse lunge to make the movement more complex and functional. Working on muscle-building?
A traditional deadlift with a barbell is probably right for you. Worried about your back? Exchange the barbell for a hex bar to help you engage your core properly.by altering the weight distribution. When your deadlift begins to look and feel like a part of the activities you love, you'll begin to look forward to the days they're in your program!
Erica Marcano, MS ATC, CSCS, also known as The Notorious ATC, is certified Athletic Trainer and Strength & Conditioning Specialist with 15 years of experience in her field. She currently coaches clients in person throughout Brooklyn & NYC, and due to recent events, now sees clients virtually as well. Learn more about Erica and her holistic fitness practice here.