A fresh snow had fallen over the Midwest but I sure as hell wasn’t worried: I’ve been deadlifting.
It’s been six years since I’ve owned an Olympic barbell. What a glorious return of iron to my life. Now that I have a basement, I reckon I’m pretty much unstoppable.
Anyway, for the past three days I’ve been deadlifting. Two sets of five, one “work” set and another back off set spaced around five minutes apart. True strength work. Five days a week. I started off conservatively at 185 and each session raised the weight five pounds.
Of course, I’ve been kettlebelling those six years and done other posterior chain work, but nothing is like the deadlift. I feel like a million bucks. My nervous system is totally excited about this deadlifting and although I was snowblowing and not shoveling, I owned that snowblower when I had to pull it back and maneuver it around without the aid of the wheel drive.
And anyway, when the snowplow inevitably came back to drop off a load at the front of my driveway, I took the shovel to it and hoisted that snow effortlessly. I feared for the shovel. Could it handle my manliness?
An article I read a long time ago talked about humans being rear wheel drive. When you start deadlifting, which develops an incredible strength in all the muscles of your posterior chain (your rear wheel drive muscles), you’ll understand what the author of that article meant: we really are rear wheel drive.
From picking up groceries, to bags of salt pellets, to unruly kids, to avoiding being pulled away by your overeager German shepherd, deadlifts let you deploy the requisite strength—and then some.
And they are one of those exercises where it isn’t too difficult to work up to appreciable weights, either. Start deadlifting (or pulling, to use the vernacular) even just 135 and you’ll be a much better man or woman. Ladies might not like the effect on the hands, but a pumice stone will soften them right up. For men, leave your hands a little rough—most men these days have gotten far too dainty and I dare say it’s a tad pathetic.
Now, although you should always use good form, you should especially use good form when you deadlift. For that reason I recommend the classic book on the subject, Power to the People!. This is the book that got me started—and this is the book that will show you how to deadlift and how to cycle the weights so you can strong intelligently and predictably.
I forgot how great deadlifting made me feel back when I was doing it consistently. It made me feel like I was cheating. I kept wondering how people who had access to Olympic weights could forego this amazing lift. Seriously, you could practice this lift as prescribed in Power to the People and you’d have a pretty darn good physique.
The heavier weight you can use in the deadlift forces your stomach muscles to contract. Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, spinal erectors, lats, biceps, shoulders, traps, and neck all get involved in the action. If you practiced the lift as prescribed in Pavel Tsatsouline’s book, you’d spend less than 10 minutes per day—less than an hour per week—strength training and you’d be stronger than nearly all your peers (unless they were also doing the same thing, of course). Not that being stronger than other people is the be all end all, but it is significant when you consider that by peers I mean people who are wasting their time lifting lighter weights and not feeling the amazing benefits that you will be feeling from deadlifting. (That is, stronger–with less effort.)
Not to mention there is a abhorrent epidemic of men with frail backs. These people go around avoiding heavy things because they have a weak back. The cycle self-perpetuates and these are the people whose grand kids will silently wonder, “Why is grandpa such a wuss?”
And good news about the weights. Chances are you can get a 300 pound Olympic set on Craigslist. Most offers will probably throw in a bench too and it’ll cost you around 300 dollars. Throw in Power to the People! and for a few year’s gym fees (or a few month’s if you go to one of those boutique gyms) you’ll have all the equipment you’ll ever need to forge a rockin’ and fully functional body in a fraction of the time.