Western Works Out: Deadlifts
By: Alex Dupille
If there is one weightlifting exercise that encompasses almost all the muscles in one fluid motion, it would be deadlifts. The deadlift engages all the major muscle groups simultaneously. Some of the major muscles that are engaged are the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, adductor magnus (inner thigh) and your soleus (smaller part of your calf). Deadlifting will not only increase your muscle strength and size, but if done properly will improve your posture too. Although the deadlift seems like a very simple exercise, it can be extremely dangerous if not conducted with proper form. There are many different types of deadlifting, but what I will demonstrate is the standard deadlift.
Your starting position is going to be vital when deadlifting. Start with your feet and hands shoulder-width apart and gripping the bar with an over-under grip. Make sure your knees are over the bar and bent enough to where your back is straight, as shown in the picture. Keep your head facing up and forward – looking down while you deadlift will cause your neck to strain and back to curve.
When you start to lift up you’re going to lift through your heels – meaning you should feel the pressure in your heels and not the balls of your feet. Then raise your chest in the air. This is going to straighten your back. Keep the bar over the middle of your foot and bring it up with your shins pressing against the bar. Take a deep breath and pull the bar upwards.
Once you stand up with the bar and are at the apex of your lift, lock your knees and hips out. I prefer to slightly lean back to accentuate the movement and really feel the full contraction of my muscles. When you return the weight to the floor begin by unlocking your knees and hips first. Next, lower the bar by moving your hips back and keeping your legs almost exactly straight. After the bar reaches past your knees you’re going to bend your legs more and the weights will touch the ground.
Perfecting your deadlift form may take hundreds of reps and you might have to tweak a couple things, but if you follow these few steps it will put you in the right direction. Make sure your form is intact before you start going up in weight. If not done properly deadlifts can seriously injure your back and neck. I always found it beneficial to have someone film the lift so I can look back at the video and be able to critique my form.