The Benefits Of Doing Deadlifts
The deadlift is undoubtedly one of the most effective exercises you can do because you can strengthen all of the major muscle groups and help to develop both your upper and lower body at the same time.
Indeed if you are looking to build some serious muscle mass, you can get some impressive results just by doing squats and deadlifts, and increasing the weight slowly over time as you start to get stronger.
However whilst this is one of the best compound exercises for building muscle, the fact is that many people in the gym never include them in their workouts because they are basically scared of doing deadlifts.
Why People Are Scared Of Doing This Exercise
There is a simply explanation why – people are really worried about injuring their backs and doing some permanent damage.
This is one of those exercises that really engages your back muscles as you are lifting the barbell off the floor (and indeed when you are placing it down again), and can therefore do some serious damage if you get it wrong.
As you are using your whole body to lift the barbell off the ground, you can load the bar with heavier weights, and so if your form is not absolutely perfect, it is all too easy to slip a disc or put your back out.
Over the years I have met quite a few people in the gym who have injured their backs doing deadlifts, and in some cases the damage has been permanent.
Subsequently many people never even try to do deadlifts in the first place because they are all too aware of the possible risks, whilst others make the decision to stop doing this exercise altogether as soon as they hurt their back doing these deadlifts.
My Own Experience
I can certainly empathise with those lifters who shy away from doing deadlifts because although I have been doing them for several years now, I still get a little scared before each lift, even though I really concentrate on lifting the weight with perfect form throughout the whole movement.
That’s because I know how delicate the back is and know how easy it is to slip a disc when lifting heavy objects.
Plus I also know that this is still possible to damage your back even if you are lifting with perfect form. Just a few weeks ago I was lowering the weight to the floor after doing 8 clean reps, and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my lower back on my final rep as I was lowering the weight to the floor.
Luckily the pain subsided after 3 or 4 days, but it did make me question whether I should still be doing deadlifts at my age and potentially putting myself at risk.
How To Do Deadlifts Safely
As I mentioned above, I personally believe that there is always an element of risk associated with deadlifts even if you are performing this exercise with perfect form.
However because they are so effective at building core strength in your whole body, I can understand why so many people want to continue doing them.
So if you do want to keep doing deadlifts with minimal risk of injury, there are three key points to bear in mind.
First of all you need to learn how to do this exercise with perfect form. You can either watch YouTube videos, read articles online or ask a personal trainer at your local gym. It doesn’t really matter. The key point is that you learn how to position your feet, knees, glutes, back, chest and shoulders and practice using a really light barbell until you can perform this exercise perfectly.
Here is a really useful video from the Buff Dudes that shows you how to do the deadlift with perfect technique:
The second point is that you should never overextend yourself. The deadlift is one of those exercises that you should increase the weight slowly and steadily as you get stronger. It is very tempting to load a barbell with more and more plates in order to get faster results, but this will only increase the risk of injury if you end up struggling to lift it off the floor (or struggle to lower it to the floor in a controlled movement).
Finally, you shouldn’t worry about doing lots of reps. 6-8 reps is more than enough to see results. If you end up doing a lot more than this, you will find that your form starts to suffer as you body starts to weaken, and you are therefore more likely to damage your back.
If you can remember these three key points, then you may well find that you can strengthen your back quite a lot over time, and will subsequently have a smaller risk of injury if you are in full control of your lifts at all times. Plus you will of course see some serious strength gains in the process.