The Big Five: Deadlifts

I am going to play my first round of golf this summer on today, and am praying that I can keep the ball on my own fairway this time. Golf makes me feel as uncoordinated as Charles Barkley. But all that said, it will be a great time and am hoping to shoot under a hundred.

This next series will be rather long, I am going over the big five lifts that must be in everyone’s program. I don’t care what your goals are. If you are not doing dead-lifts, squats, pushups/bench press, pull-ups and one arm snatches, you are most likely not seeing results. And if you are still getting results without these five lifts, you are not maximizing your potential. They all help you with every goal imaginable from weight loss and becoming ridiculously shredded like Ryan Renolds to getting big and jacked up like the Hulk, all the way to those who just want to move better and have no pain. These are the lifts that should be the foundation of your exercise program.

The first exercise in the Big Five series is thedead-lift. This is probably my favoritelift and it has copious amounts of benefits for you.


  1. Develop pure strength– that would allow one to take over a small nation. This is every guys dream. On the other hand, ladies this exercise willhelp you not just become strong but help you gain muscle in every area that youalways dreamed of. And I swear you willnot get big and bulky, your endocrine system does not support it.
  2. Development of the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and upperback- Now for the ladies this is the no brainer. Every woman wants a better backside, and dead-lifts will take you there faster than you could ever imagine. And in this age, with all the skinny jeans and fitted clothes, us guys better start addressing the no assatol disease that plagues the computer age (A little chemistry joke that was running in college).
  3. Improve Athletic Performance – It is common knowledge today that strength is a pivotal component in being successful in sports. After all if you are very strong you will run faster, jump higher, throw farther, swim faster and anything else you can think of. And by strong, I don’t mean you can bench press 300 pounds. That will not make you faster nor much of anything else above. I am talking about in the deadlift, where you will have strong glutes, hamstrings and lower back, all of extreme importance in every physical activity known to man. Not that having a big bench will not help you in sports; but everything works from the ground up, and that is where your dead-lifts start. Plus having a stronger more stable upper back from holding the bar, it will help increase your bench numbers as well. How is that for best bang for your buck?
  4. Injury Prevention – For those of you with low back and knee pain, or with regard any other pain. Whether or not you are rehabbing from a contact injury, or have nagging pains from over the years. Building strength throughout the glutes, hamstrings, low upper back will help keep you pain free. When these muscles are strong and activate properly they assist the lower back knee and elbows keeping you pain free and allowing you to do more.
  5. And the last reason you should do them is because it will make you more awesome. Why? Because dead-lifts bring out a recessive gene in all of us called C-5_totalawesomness. And only dead-lifts can bring that gene out of remission to make us truly awesome


When it comes to the dead-lift, it always starts from theground up. That being said, the first thing we focus on in the set up is:


Our foot is like a tripod. So we must use it as such. The foot has its three points of contact; the big toe, pinky toe and heel. When cueuing my clients, I have them put all their pressure on their big toe, and outside their heel. This drills the tripod stance into the person’s head, and keeps their foot from collapsing onto the inside of the foot.

Do not let the toes come off the floor. That means that you are not stable enough at the bottom then you will have zero chance for any big numbers. Use all three points of contact, and you will one up the rest.


The big key to the dead-lift is that we must get our butts back. We do not want our knees to be pushed forward over our toes. We want to be able to sit back so we can load up those glutes and hamstrings. This is our starting position, and is the position you must get yourself to at the bottom of every rep.


Once the butt is back, we want to be able to get the chest out and keep the lower back flat. This will allow us to keep a neutral spine. This allows just about every muscle in your body to properly work together to keep your spine healthy. Rounding out may make you a bit stronger, but it places a lot more sheer force on your spine. Something many of us do not want. Unless you are doing a very rare one rep max attempt, you should always keep this cue in mind.


This is an important cue that helps keep your core locked up tight. A big problem when people try to attempt heavy loads, or even light loads is that they do not know how to create stiffness throughout the entire body. By being able to take a full breath into your stomach and brace it, this creates inter-abdominal pressure that will help protect your spine. This will also help create a rigidity throughout the entire body (similar to a plank), that will allow you to transfer force better throughout the body. Thus, allowing one to be stronger at both sub-maximal and maximal loads.

Stay tuned for the second part of the deadlift series, where I talk more about deadlift variations and why they are useful in your program. As well as what are some of the most common flaws in many peoples techniques are.

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