I had a deadlifting breakthrough this past week. When I started CrossFit eight months ago I could deadlift about 40 kg.
Deadlifting made me nervous because as a result of a rather dramatic run in with a wave on a beach in Australia (which ended in the emergency room after being picked up by a huge wave while body surfing and then being carried into shore and going boom, crash into the sand) followed by a cross country ski collision the following year, I have a pretty twitchy lower back. (Where “twitchy” is just absolutely amazing compared to the outrageous amount of pain I was in following these accidents. I had no idea that you could even be in that much pain as a result of sudden impact without having broken anything.)
But last week (on Thurs, Jan 10 to be precise) I hit a new 1 rep max in deadlifting: 95 kgs. I benefited from advice from Crossfit coach Dave Henry (I worked on my breathing, my stance, and my grip) and it helped being cheered on by my training partners. Tracy has blogged about the joys of working out alone but this style of lifting really requires training partners.
What is the deadlift? You perform a deadlift by lifting a loaded barbell off the ground from a stabilized, bent over position. The deadlift is one of the three canonical powerlifting exercises, along with the squat and the bench press. (I plan to blog later about the distinction between powerlifting and Olympic lifting and about how both of these styles differ from muscle specific body building.)
To get an idea of what’s involved you can read the wiki-how instructions or watch the You Tube video here, Aneta Florczyk, three-time World’s Strongest Woman, deadlifts 250 kg.
Clearly I have room to get stronger. She’s amazing.
But you might be wondering, since this doesn’t look easy or particularly fun, why deadlift? Here’s some answers:
- “The Deadlift is one of the most ancient, fundamental and just flat out alpha lifts out there. In no other lift do you raise hundreds of pounds of weight off the ground with your bare hands. There’s really something magical about the Deadlift. You just don’t feel the same amount of confidence and joy doing Squats or Bench Pressing as you do while Deadlifting. There’s a reason so many people look forward to Deadlift day.” The Deadlift
- It’s a whole body exercise working almost all of the major muscle groups (Spinal Erectors, Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Middle and Upper Trapezius, Abdominals and Obliques, Lats, Calves) and whole body exercises are great for developing full body strength, especially in the core. Your back will thank you for it.
- Deadlifting has real functional applications. Picking stuff up off the ground is something we actually do, a lot. “When you perform physical labor, you frequently pick up items off the floor and lift them. Performing deadlifts develops the muscles and the movements that are involved in many forms of physical labor. Also, because deadlifts normally involve lifting heavy weights, they help you develop a strong grip, which is also associated with many physical tasks.” Read more at Livestrong, What Are the Benefits of Deadlifting?
- “All lifters MUST wear extended knee socks when Deadlifting.”
That’s what lifting competition rules say. And there is a practical reason, to prevent your shins from getting scraped. But they also come in lots of funky colours and patterns. See pic above and for more, lots more, see here. I know one reader of the blog wrote in to say she didn’t look forward to having to wear them to compete, but I have a soft spot for knee socks. Practical and cute.