Discussing the Deadlift: Pros and Cons


The Deadlift is one of those exercises that will always get a mixed reputation. Many would consider the deadlift to be one of the best lower body compound movements to perform in the gym. But truth is, there are plenty of pros and cons to this exercise.

As much as it is highly praised and favored in the strength and fitness community, it can just as often become viewed as an exercise that one should avoid because it looks dangerous. While it is always important to aim for safety when in the gym and throughout the exercises that you are performing, we also want to refrain from creating unnecessary fear or avoidance of a movement due to some myths or misconceptions we may have heard from an unreliable source.

We should also understand that any exercise when done incorrectly or irresponsibly can in fact be dangerous. So we could say that it all comes down to a smart start if you are a beginner. 

The hip hinge and what should be happening to execute the exercise

When we look at the deadlift, let’s break it into what type of movement pattern is being performed here. The hip hinge.

Before most people start performing actual reps of the exercise, they should be able to set up into a strong hip hinge. This sets the foundation and keeps their body in the optimal position needed for preparation to lift the weight. This matters a lot! 

How to do the proper deadlift

It’s pretty common to see someone not pay any mind to how they are picking things up around the house. They may slump their back to pick up a heavy package and then hurt themselves as a result. Instead, we want to start by pushing the hips back, with slightly bent knees, while feeling a stretch in the hamstrings, our bodyweight shifted over the midfoot, and a strong core in order to maintain a neutral spine. This is what needs to happen before even attempting to start lifting the weight.

When we take hold of the weight, we want it as close to our mid-foot as possible so we are lifting in a vertical path. Using the feet to push onto the ground, rather than pulling all the weight with our arms is what will prevent the movement from being felt in the lower back.

Keeping the shoulders down and keeping the back tight will keep the weight from straying away from our center. The shoulders and hips should rise at the same time when coming up with the weight. Once the weight reaches above the knee, you will then complete the movement by gently locking out the hips and knees, without any hyperextending through the back. 

Wrapping things up

So now it looks pretty clear to see that instruction at the gym on how to properly pick up a weight off the floor, will carry over in how you do the same movement at home with other objects. As with the deadlift, other compound exercises have an optimal setup, execution, and ending to the movement.

Now, it is important that you understand that there is no such thing as a “perfect” form. But as we get more proficient in a movement, the idea is to get pretty close!

Mind and muscle connection tied in with the mechanics of the lift, and then practiced regularly are the key ingredients in the quest to mastering the deadlift.

Finally, here are some of the top pros and cons of the deadlift. 

Pros of the deadlift:

  • It is a compound full-body functional movement that most of us as performing every day on a daily basis. A failure to train this movement pattern would be a huge disservice to us.
  • The exercise does not have to be restricted to just a barbell. Contrary to what most people envision when they think of a deadlift, there is such a wide variety of equipment that can be used in place of a barbell.
  • It is a FUN movement that builds confidence and makes you feel powerful
  • The deadlift can be modified and several variations are possible, in order to cater to each individual
  • The deadlift is a great lift to make you stronger
  • Trains grip strength 
  • Can be loaded heavy

Cons of the deadlift: 

  • Requires a tremendous amount of control and body awareness
  • It is a very technical movement
  • Less room for error which can increase the chance of injury
  • The deadlift requires a lot of practice and may not be an exercise one should try to teach themselves without a coach or trainer.
  • Easy to ego lift when continuing to add weight

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