The deadlift is an excellent exercise for strengthening the hamstrings for sports enhancement as well as the glutes and low back.
It is quite advanced and should not be attempted by anyone with a history of low back problems without first checking with your MD.
Always begin the exercise using very low weight, perfecting form prior to lifting any heavy weight. The deadlift can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. We will describe the lift using a barbell.
- For initial back safety, place a light barbell on a low bench rather than on the floor, and grab the barbell with abs tight, palms facing body, and stand up carefully with a straight back so the barbell hangs from straight arms at thigh height.
- Keep the chest up, the head up, and the abdominals engaged, knees bent slightly to accommodate your hamstring flexibility. Feet are slightly narrower than hip width.
- Keeping barbell next to the body, lower the barbell down as you bend at hips, sticking buttocks out and keeping the back PERFECTLY straight, not rounded. If you cannot maintain a straight spine, then you should NOT be doing this exercise.
- Lower barbell slowly until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings, without rounding your back at all, and then exhale as you straighten back up, hip hinging using gluteals and hamstrings, rather than low back. Press hips forward until you stand in neutral.
Tip: Lift portion of exercise can be performed faster than lowering portion.
Variation: A challenging variation of a deadlift is a Single Leg Dead Lift. It requires good hip strength and balance, but will also increase these all important athletic qualities. One dumbbell can also be used, and often, the dumbbell is held in the opposite hand of the standing leg. This increase balance challenge and cross body stability. As in deadlift described above, back MUST remain straight at all times during exercise.