The Deadlift in 450 Words or Less

In this series of articles, I’m going to discuss some basic exercises that everyone should be doing. I’ll tell you how to do them and why they’re important. This week: The Deadlift.
What does it do? – The deadlift may be our most important exercise. It works nearly every muscle in the body in one way or another from your shoulders down to your toes.
How do I do it? – In many respects the form is similar to a squat. There are some differences, however. The main one being that with the squat, the weight is held around our shoulders and with the deadlift, the weight is held at arm’s length down at the lower body.
Like each exercise I’ve talked about there are many variations of the deadlift, from stiff-legged deadlifts to sumo to snatch-grip and many others. Today we are going to talk about what the great coach Dan John calls Potato Sack squats. (Don’t worry, even though he calls them squats it’s a great beginning deadlift variation.)
Ideally you should use a dumbbell, although a filled up grocery bag can be a great option.
Place your feet where they’d be if you were about to jump as high as you could, hold the dumbbell with your hands under the top of the weight and let your arms hanging straight down in front of you. Be sure to stand tall with your chest up, your core tight and looking straight ahead.
Moving your hips back first, and being sure to maintain the form and posture I described, lower the weight to the floor and then stand back up.
Some people might have trouble lowering the weight all the way to the floor at first. That’s fine and somewhat expected if you’ve never done this before. In that case you should lower the weight to a bench or a couple of phone books. Just go as low as you can while maintaining form. Always remember that correct form is the most important thing. Eventually, if you work on it, you’ll be able to go down to the floor.
The great thing about deadlifts, and most other effective exercises, is that the movement pattern is used in so many of our daily activities. Have you ever picked your sleeping child up off the floor? Pulled your suitcase off of the luggage carousel? Grabbed one of those Costco sized packages of mangos? Mmmm, mangos. These are all deadlifts of one type or another and doing these things with that in mind should keep you healthy and strong.
Drop me a line for more ideas and don’t forget to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Mitch Rothbardt
510-754-7113
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