When I first touched a barbell in the 9th grade, I immediately was attracted to the squat. There was something about seeing the weight on the bar increase week to week. The feel of the bar on my traps. Driving that mass of steel to the ceiling. Man I LOVE squatting!
I squatted like a fiend for years and took pride in being able to out lift guys bigger than me. Anybody can lay down and lift, but it takes real heart and determination to put a few hundred pounds on your shoulders and fight just to survive another rep. My squat weight went up, then EVERYTHING else went up. I truly believed the squat WAS the “King of Exercises”. Until…
After about 2 years into a hiatus from the world of professional wrestling, an old friend called me and said he was entering a local powerlifting competition and asked if I wanted to enter with him. I was intrigued because I’d never done a competitive lifting meet before. This came at an opportune time as being out of athletics had caused my training motivation to drop faster than a Skrillex beat.
Problem was, I’d NEVER done much with the deadlift outside 2-3 sets of 10-15 Romanian (is it really?) Deadlifts after my squat sessions. I researched (Googled) how to do deadlifting from the floor and got busy. I found out that I liked deadlifting. I REALLY liked deadlifting and I got strong at it fast. Aside from getting strong on the actual lift, there were 3 big bonuses I got that you might just get too if you aren’t already deadlifting.
Increased Grip Strength
You can do all the grip training you want, NOTHING is going to improve your grip strength like wrapping your hands around a loaded bar and lifting a few times. My hands got stronger and tougher. I was better able to handle bigger dumbbells now, my accessory lifts all saw improvement and when I shook someone’s hand, I instantly achieved Alpha status. That last part’s not true.
Seriously, deadlifting will give you killer grip strength like nothing else. Skip the lifting straps. You’ll learn to depend on them too much and won’t develop the bone crushing handshake you deserve.
A Wider Back
Walk outside shirtless with a barn door sized back and you command respect. When I started training with the deadlift, my upper back got stronger and thicker in a matter of weeks. That combined with my newfound grip strength made pullups much easier. A little extra upper back work never killed anybody – and it won’t kill you.
No, in fact it will make you that much more impressive at the local pool where you’ll be surrounded by dad bods.
Undeniable Full Body Power
When I decided to get back into the ring, I got there bigger and more powerful thanks to the massive increase in strength in my low back, traps and hips from heavy deadlifts. I lifted and threw guys with ease and had more armor to protect me from the “bumps” to the mat. Strengthening the aforementioned areas can literally transform your training and your physique. The deadlift is the one stop shop for becoming a physical juggernaut in whatever sport or recreational activity you find yourself involved in.
So long story short, I ended up winning best overall lifter and setting 2 records in my age group at the same time. More importantly, I’d added a new weapon to my exercise arsenal which has usurped the barbell squat as my favorite.
Lift safe! A bad lift can ruin your day in a hurry when a vertebrae flies out of your spine. Mind your technique and make sure you NEVER sacrifice impeccable form for weight lifted.
Post your current 3 rep max in the comments below!
By Chad Smith, Fitness Coach