The Importance And Misunderstanding Of The Deadlift
CrossFit Journal Article Reprint. First Published in CrossFit Journal Issue 12 – August 2003
By: Greg Glassman
The deadlift is unrivaled in its simplicity and impact while unique in its capacity for increasing head to toe strength.
Regardless of whether your fitness goals are to “rev up” your metabolism, increase strength or lean body mass, decrease body fat, rehabilitate your back, improve athletic performance, or maintain functional independence as a senior, the deadlift is a marked shortcut to that end.
To the detriment of millions, the deadlift is infrequently used and seldom seen either by most of the exercising public and/or, believe it or not, by athletes.
It might be that the deadlift’s name has scared away the masses; its older name, “the healthlift,” was a better choice for this perfect movement.
In its most advanced application the deadlift is prerequisite to, and a component of, “the world’s fastest lift,” the snatch, and “the world’s most powerful lift,” the clean; but it is also, quite simply, no more than the safe and sound approach by which any object should be lifted from the ground.
The deadlift, being no more than picking a thing off the ground, keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality but imparts quick and prominent athletic advantage like no other exercise. Not until the clean, snatch, and squat are well developed will the athlete again find as useful a tool for improving general physical ability.
The deadlift’s primal functionality, whole-body nature, and mechanical advantage with large loads suggest its strong neuroendocrine impact, and for most athletes the deadlift delivers such a quick boost in general strength and sense of power that its benefits are easily understood.
If you want to get stronger, improve your deadlift. Driving your deadlift up can nudge your other lifts upward, especially the Olympic lifts.
Fear of the deadlift abounds, but like fear of the squat, it is groundless. No exercise or regimen will protect the back from the potential injuries of sport and life or the certain ravages of time like the deadlift.
We recommend deadlifting at near max loads once per week or so and maybe one other time at loads that would be insignificant at low reps. Be patient and learn to celebrate small infrequent bests.
Major benchmarks would certainly include bodyweight, twice bodyweight, and three times bodyweight deadlifts representing a “beginning,” “good,” and “great” deadlifts respectively.
The deadlift keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality but imparts quick and prominent athletic advantage like no other exercise.