You may have heard this before: The Squat is the King of Exercises. While the Squat is a great mass-building exercise, it is lacking in a few departments. There is little to no arm or grip involvement, a lot of pressure is put on the spine (especially the back squat), and hip/ankle flexibility can be a huge limiting factor. Not to mention there is a risk of injury even at moderate weight. So, what’s the real King of Exercises? Deadlift. One of my favorite exercises and the best mass-builder and overall bodybuilding movement.
The squat may be the better overall leg building exercise, but the deadlift is the best overall body exercise. Deadlifting engages the entire back (especially the lower back) and surrounding muscle groups like: shoulders, traps, biceps, and forearms. All of the muscles in the legs are used in deadlifting as well as the gluteus and hip/pelvic muscles. Deadlifting is also a great core strengthening exercise and is one of the best ways to develop a strong grip.
Deadlifting is safe as there’s no way to get trapped under a heavy bar and with proper form doesn’t usually lead to injury. Learning to pick heavy objects off of the ground safely has real-world application. Not to mention there’s a special, primal appeal of lifting a really heavy object off of the ground all on your own, from a dead stop. Cardiorespiratory fitness is also improved with regular deadlifting, because like the squat, deadlifts are very aerobically taxing.
With the different variations of the deadlift: conventional, sumo, wall-facing, straight-leg (Romanian), snatch-grip, etc. You can even target certain muscle groups more allowing you to customize your training.
So your next time in the gym, start light and get your form right. Use mirrors and ask for pointers if you have to. Deadlifting will make you stronger and leaner. And you’ll also feel great.
Feel free to comment with any questions on proper form or how to program deadlifts into your workouts.