If you came to class yesterday you moved some pretty heavy weight, probably the heaviest weight you’ll move in the gym. And you moved it over 20 times.
Someone asked after class why we do deadlifts. Pretty good question right. We’re not moving it very far, it doesn’t take very long to do and while it felt very intense from a weight perspective, we weren’t lying around on the floor in pools of sweat gasping for breath afterwards. But I bet your hamstrings are feeling a little sore today (which is a great indicator you were moving with decent form; if your lower back hurts, next time you deadlift, let’s go with a lighter weight and focus on form – sound familiar??).
So why do we deadlift?
Luckily for me, Greg Glassman answered this question in issue no. 12 of the CrossFit Journal, first published in August 2003. This is what he said:
“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.
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.
Be patient and learn to celebrate small infrequent bests.“
That’s why we deadlift. And because, well, CrossFit.