Relax, little man. Yes, when we say deadlift we’re referring to the lift that makes up one-third of a power-lifting competition. Do not worry, we’re not arguing that everyone should start eating raw eggs for breakfast, and boiled chickens for lunch and dinner (though that is delicious). Rather, we want to inject a little science into your simple mind, and teach you the power of this one mighty lift.

So, if this lift is so great, and everyone should do it, why don’t we see more people performing it? Well, the last deadlift display you witnessed at your local gym likely involved a powerlifter well past his prime still wearing the outfits of his competition days. You a saw large, low-hanging gut, heard some painful grunts and smelled an odor that could best be described as angry. Your fear is understandable.

You are in the gym for the ladies, not to become a gorilla. In fact, that is main reason we hear from ignorant gym-goers as to why they avoid, amongst other things, the deadlift. “I have to be careful because I get big, bulky muscles real quick.” If you get big so quick, why are you currently so overweight, or weak, or any other adjective related to your less-than-Brad-Pitt physique? You know who uses that “get big quick” excuse? Little girls. Seriously, don’t be a girl, use logic. If it is so easy to generate massive muscle, why does it take so many hours of dedication and hard work? Yes, the deadlift can get you big, like most lifts, if you want. If you don’t, it can get you healthy and injury proof.

Why To Do It
The deadlift works nearly every muscle in your body. How’s that for an efficient workout? One exercise, total body. Now, this isn’t marriage, so you can do other lifts as well, and you should. Be a lift skank. The great thing about deadlifting, though, is it can make other exercises more effective. Working such a large number of muscles at once releases a tremendous amount of growth hormone (the natural kind, not the Barry Bonds kind). That boost of hormone swimming around in your body promotes muscle growth and healing, (and indirectly, weight loss, though that is another article) regardless of which muscle you are working with what lift.

In addition to the efficiency and strengths benefits, the deadlift is also good for helping to protect us from injury. Your mother would say to slow down; We say to speed up and make sure you can handle any fall. The deadlift most intensely works the lumbosacral (lower back), trapezius (middle back) muscles, quadriceps and gluteal (money-maker) muscles. This is why the lift is so beneficial to so many types of people. A strong back, butt and thighs provide a solid foundation for the body to move, bend, lift, bang, etc. These muscles are grossly neglected if you are only doing curls. How embarrassing it would be if your arms lured a girl back to your place, only to have her forced to be on top all night because you threw your back out in the softball league.

How To Do It
Of course, a deadlift can be dangerous, like any exercise, if done improperly. When learning to lift, start with very little weight, or none at all, until you have the form perfected. The proper deadlift movement is as follows:

To start, set the barbell with weights attached on the floor. Approach the bar, feet about hip-width apart, shins close to the bar. Next, bend at the knees and hips to pick up the bar. It is extremely important to keep you back straight. In this bent position, your shoulders are back and your butt is pushed out, helping to keep your back straight. With your arms right next to your legs, grip the bar. (When lifting a lot of weight, use a “power grip” one over-hand and one under-hand. This will keep the bar from rolling)

Next, you will lift the bar, first with your legs, then with your back. When viewed from the side, the bar should move perfectly straight up and down. To do this, lead with your legs, dragging the bar along your shins, until it gets to your knees. At that point, straighten your torso, focusing on driving your abdominals towards the bar. Once you are standing straight up, follow that same motion in reverse, touching the weight on the ground, and repeat. If you are looking to stay lean, focus on repetitions rather than weight as you progress.

Now when a strange, less equipped men asks, “Hey, really athletic-looking man, what’s your secret?” You can reply, “Doing your mom.”