October Is For Deadlifts

Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Welcome back, friends! We’ve done a lot of bodyweight exercises in our fitness challenges, and last month we got out on the road for some running or walking. This month we head into the gym for some heavy lifting — but don’t worry, even if you don’t have a gym membership we’ll have options for you too.

This month we’re tackling the deadlift. You have a heavy thing on the floor, you grab it, and you stand up.

Once you’ve worked on your deadlifts for a bit, you’ll find you can lift a lot more weight this way than with any other lift. Even smallish people can deadlift weights in the triple digits. A milestone for beginner-to-intermediate lifters is deadlifting a barbell that weighs the same as your own body. So we have high hopes, here.

But none of that is possible unless you have good form and you know how to deadlift safely. As with lifting anything, you’ll want to keep your spine neutral — not rounding or hollowing it — and keep the weight close to your body.

Fortunately, the shape of a barbell is designed to make this easy, and the internet is full of videos showing exactly how your body should move during a deadlift. (We’ve linked some of the best in our deadlift guide.)

What to Do This Month

If you’ve never done a deadlift: Focus on learning the deadlift, but don’t worry about weight. Grab a broomstick at home, or a very light barbell or body bar at the gym. Spend a few minutes of each workout practising the motion, and only add weight when and if you’re ready.

In the meantime, try these bodyweight-only moves that work some of the same muscles as deadlifts.

If you’re ready to try, but not experienced: Start with the beginner moves, above, and then add weight — but lift light. Remember that you can do deadlifts with dumbbells or kettlebells, or with a lightly loaded barbell. Consider using a weight light enough you can do three sets of eight to 12 good form reps.

If you know what you’re doing: Decide on a schedule and plan for focusing on your deadlifts this month. You may want to lift heavy once a week, and dedicate another session or two to lighter deadlifts or to accessory work that strengthens your back and legs.

Give it a try, and stay safe out there!

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