Lifting massive amounts of weight from the ground up and moving around with it, and then putting said weight down has existed since the days of the cavemen, but how exactly did the mundane act of picking things up and putting them down become a test of strength for the modern man? And why is the act of dead-lifting probably the best thing you can do for your physique in the gym?
The Origin Story
Like Wolverine, the origins of the deadlift are set in destruction, death and general bad-assery. The creation of the deadlift was believed to be during the Roman Empire, when soldiers needed a way to stop hurting themselves while clearing out the corpses of their enemies from the battlefield at the end of a long and hard-fought day. At this point, when commanders were losing more soldiers to random back-aches than to actual combat and that is where the deadlift was born. Commanders and the doctors of the time started teaching soldiers a better technique to lift these corpses (morbid, I know) and use the leg and back muscles effectively.
Hermann Göerner was the man credited with shedding a spotlight on the deadlift and really bringing it to the mainstream, this is the man you can thank for pretty much inventing the deadlift.
Back in 1920’s, the emphasis of lifting was more on one armed and two armed overhead lifts, however, Göerner – the 6ft, 290lbs giant went against the norm and practiced on this lift in ways many found unbelievable.
He trained on one finger, two fingers, four fingers, using one hand and the conventional, two handed deadlift. Of course, by all accounts unofficial, it was believed that at the peak of his strength Hermann could pull around 830lbs, an impressive feat even until today.
It is unclear when the deadlifts were being recorded officially in competitions but the very first deadlift record set was by a man named Bob Peoples, a farmer from Tennessee who pulled 651lbs. Peoples eventually broke his own record and became the first man to deadlift 700lbs, in the 1948 Olympics.
Why do the deadlift?
If the history of the deadlift has not convinced you yet (how?) here are 3 additional reasons why the lift of legends is something that should be on every workout routine you follow.
- More Muscle
Want more muscle growth? Do the deadlift. There’s obviously different ways the lift can be performed, but for this post I’m just going to assume the conventional deadlift is the way most people do it. Anyway, here’s the list; grip, arms, shoulders, lats, lower back, hamstrings, glutes, core (abs), traps, quads, obliques…there’s more, but I’ll stop or the entire article is going to be about what the deadlift hits and not why you should do it (if this isn’t reason enough). In short, the deadlift is a full body workout- basically, if you had the option of doing one exercise for the rest of your life your best bet would be picking the deadlift. Additionally, because the deadlift is a heavy exercise you naturally release growth hormone which induce muscle development.
- More Testosterone
The deadlift is the excersise of the manly man, how does a manly man become a manly man? With Testosterone. Each rep of the deadlift increases your test levels by roughly 1000%, yes you read that right- you become 1000 times more of a manly man with each rep of the deadlift. More testosterone means you obviously become more attractive to the ladies (if that’s what you’re after), more testosterone means when you enter a bar the bartender already has an icy beer ready for you before you’ve placed your order.
- More Fat Burn
If you’re looking to get lean deadlifts are the way to go, because of how taxing the excersize is and how many muscle fibers it is using, the calories you ultimately burn are much higher than you would usually burn doing other movements.
In case you’re still not convinced that the deadlift is the excersize for you- here’s a video of former world’s strongest man- Jon Pall Sigmarsson (RIP) telling you what to do with your life if you do not deadlift.