For one reason or another, athletes and gym-goers may want to skip the deadlift. Whether it’s out of safety concern, or local gym rules, some will seek alternatives to the deadlift. The bottom line is that THERE IS NO ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE for the deadlift!

Weightlifters of all varieties cannot afford to skip out on this exercise. No other exercise offers so many benefits in such an efficient movement. Furthermore, there are some misconceptions about the deadlift that athletes have been misinformed with.

Deadlifts have been revered for decades as a solid compound lift that strengthens a plethora of muscles while adding functional strength that transfers to other lifts. Deadlifts develop the spinal erectors, traps, lats, calves, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and other muscles in the posterior chain. Having these muscles well-developed will result in a strong and functional body.

There are countless benefits to deadlifting. Among them are:

– Development of explosive strength, also called rate of force. This transfers to other explosive movements such as power cleans and the vertical jump.

– Quickly adds muscle mass. The deadlift and the squat are championed as two of the best compound lifts for bodybuilders and lifters to gain mass quickly. Engaging so many muscle groups at once, the deadlift will quickly develop the upper back.

– Forearm muscles and grip strength. When gripping a heavy, loaded bar, the lifter develops a powerful grip. Once again, this transfers to other lifts as the athlete will require a strong grip for other exercises such as the squat, bench press, and overhead press. Grip strength also serves an important function in many sports where physical strength and coordination are germane. No other lift will develop grip strength this quickly. Once again, there is no alternative to deadlift!

– Little equipment required. The deadlift can be performed with just an Olympic barbell and some plates. No bench, rack, machine, or other peripheral is required to perform the deadlift. This characteristic should also speak volumes about the functionality of the deadlift; it is very useful in hauling heavy items in day-to-day life.

– Safety. The deadlift is commonly regarded as a “dangerous” lift. This is erroneous; the deadlift when performed correctly and with proper form is a very safe exercise. By using good form and following the natural biomechanics of one’s body, the lifter does not expose himself to any safety concerns.

Some useful tips for deadlifting safely:

– Begin with the bar in the mid-foot position. The bar should “cut” your foot in half.

– Grip the bar tightly, and push through your heels

– Throughout the movement, keep your chest up. However, do not squeeze your shoulder blades together.

– It is natural for the bar to drag along your shins/thighs. However, you need not scrape your shins and/or rupture the skin along the leg.

– Use chalk or wrist straps to improve your grip.

– Use a leather weightlifting belt to protect your lower back and improve your strength capacity.

It bears repeating again; there is NO ALTERNATIVE to deadlift! No other lift will provide so many benefits to the lifter. If you are weightlifting at all, you must include the deadlift in your routine!

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