Should everyone deadlift?? In the traditional straight bar from the floor with heavy weights fashion? No, but if you can it definitely will give you some street cred. But if you are talking about basic human movement, yes.
In short, a deadlift is a hip hinge, one of the basic human movements. Everybody should be able to hip hinge, but it is about finding the variation that is right for you. There are a multitude of deadlift or hip hinge variations and to pick the right one you must consider your goals, physical limitations, and needs.
Why Should You Deadlift?
What is more functional in life than picking up heavy stuff from the floor? Deadlift variations mimic a daily requirement for many of us whether that means picking up our kids off the floor or a heavy box at work.
A proper deadlift teaches and reinforces proper lifting mechanics, or “using your legs”. Practicing and grooving the hip hinge can make you more efficient and less likely to hurt yourself while lifting heavy stuff.
The deadlift also trains the entire posterior chain. Want impressive glutes, hamstrings, and back? Nothing can beat the effectiveness of deadlift variations.
Which Variation is Right For You?
When most people think of the deadlift they imagine some hulking human being lifting a straight bar loaded with 700 pounds from the from. All though a clean, heavy deadlift is a thing of beauty, it isn’t for everybody for a number of reasons.
Many limiting factors can affect your ability to deadlift. Here are some variations for each type of person
The barbell can be scary for the beginner and the kettlebell can be a good introduction to lifting. Due to the weight being placed between your legs, or closer to the center of mass, it is a great teacher of maintaining neutral spine while hinging at the hips.
Important note: If you can’t maintain a neutral spine while lifting from the ground or returning the weight to the ground, place the weight on a block(s) until you have the mobility and control to lift from the ground. This is important because loaded spinal flexion is spinal cruelty.
Muscle Hypertrophy-Romanian Deadlift or RDL
The RDL can be used with either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. Because the RDL can begin from the “top” it is great for those who are learning to groove the hip hinge but it also has the added effect of packing some muscle on your backside.
The controlled eccentric overload of the RDL makes it effective at building your hamstrings and glutes.
Those With A History of Back Pain-Trap Bar or Hex Bar Deadlift
For those who have a history of back pain or injury to their spine, the straight bar deadlift may not be the best choice of exercise for them. Although I would say that most back pain with the deadlift is due to poor form, but that is a topic for another day.
The configuration of the trap bar puts the weight closer to the center of mass or helps shorten the lever from your hips. Shortening the lever helps reduce the stress on the spine, making it much more friendly for those who deal with back pain.
If your trap bar also has a high-handle option, this can be great for those with limited ranges of motion as well as taller lifters.
In conclusion, yes you should pick heavy stuff up but it is about finding the variation that works best for you and your goals. Don’t listen to the clowns who say “THIS” has to be done. But it is important for your health and fitness that you learn and train the hip hinge.