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Building your back strength to reduce injury

Deadlifting Your Way To A Rock Solid Back

Steve was a big bodybuilding enthusiast and thrived on a steady diet of squats, deadlifts, big pushes and pulls as a mainstay of his programming.  During one session at the gym Steve was pulling some heavy deadlifts for repetitions, while onlookers gawked at the amount of weight he was using and one individual seemed overly concerned.

Steve had just finished a set of 405 pounders and set the weight down under control with a large thunk upon the heavy matted floor.  Steve stood erect and moved towards a bench sitting down heavily onto it to catch his breath from the heavy exertion.  It was a heavy day and five sets of five were catching up to him nearing his fourth set.  As Steve breathed in smooth, deep breathes the overly concerned onlooker came over to him.

“Hey there, I’m Joe,” said the wiry man, who looked as if a stiff wind could knock him down if it caught him just right.  “Some awful heavy weights you’re lifting there!”

“Yeah,” Steve said, “It’s a big deadlift day for me, not my best work, but it’s acceptable.”

“Yeah it’s pretty impressive,” said Joe.  “I could only dream of lifting that much weight, but then again I’m just after some descent size gains with my training.”  “With that much weight I think my back would snap in half to even attempt it.  Aren’t you scared that you’ll injure your back?  You’re not even using a belt.”

“I hurt my back a couple of years ago and deadlifts have helped me recover,” Steve said.  “It’s not the weights that you have to be scared of, it’s the form and how you progress overtime.”

“Really?” Joe said quizzical.  “I’m not sure that even light weights would be acceptable.  I read some article by a physio-therapist that said deadlifts were the cause of multiple injuries of the back.”

“Yeah, but the only problem with that statement is that deadlifts don’t hurt people’s back.  Poor form and mobility hurt people’s backs,” Steve said frankly.  “I’ve been deadlifting for years and the only time I’ve ever injured my back was when I was slacking on my mobility work and trying to lift beyond my means.”

“Sure, makes sense, but I still don’t know,” Joe said still unconvinced.

“Well it’s the truth,” Steve said frankly.  “Deadlifting has helped me make tons of gains in the gym.  And when my deadlift goes up, so do most of my other lifts, not to mention the gains in size.”

“Sounds like it is still more risk versus reward.  I do plenty of back extensions and plank work to solidify my core, but I never seem to get much bigger from them.”

“Those are great exercises for your core for sure,” Steve said, “But if you’re after an impressive physique that can be seen from a distance even through your shirt then deadlifting is the way to go.”

“But look at me,” Joe said, admiring himself in the mirror, “this is pretty impressive, no?”

“Well, sure, if you like the skinny, runner look,” Steve said with a smug look.  “No offence, but your physique has a lot of work if you’re going to be strong and look like a weight lifter.  Not to mention if you’re after true, unadulterated strength there’s nothing that compares to deadlifts.”

Joe looked disheartened at hearing his physique needed more work, but inwardly he knew it was true.  He was smaller than he wanted to be and always had a tough time gaining size.

“Look, Joe,” Steve said, “You look like a nice and smart guy, but you’ve gotta lift heavy weights to get stronger and bigger.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to start off heavier than you can manage, but it’s all about improvement.  Start with manageable weights and lift heavier and heavier over time as your body adapts.”

“Okay, sounds simple enough,” Joe said.

“It isn’t easy, let me tell you.”  “Nothing about lifting a heavy ass weight off the floor is easy,” Steve said.  “You’ve gotta stay tight the whole way through, brace your core like you’re pulling the Earth itself off its axis when the weights get really heavy, and have enough mobility to get your butt down low and stick that chest up high, but nothing will make you feel more accomplished than pulling that heavy ass weight from the floor!”

“I’ll bet you’re right,” Joe said, cocking his head to the side in contemplation.

“Progressive resistance is the real key to developing a back that can hold a ton of weight and stay injury free,” Steve said, standing back up.  “Start off with light weights that feel good and keep adding some poundages every week to your deadlift.  Pretty soon you too will have a bulletproof back that can handle a good couple hundred pounds or more at a time.  And that will stave off injury, not to mention help you build an impressive physique.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have one more set of these to finish before beginning my assistance work.  Take care.”

“Sure thing,” Joe said.  “Thanks for your advice, I think I will start deadlifting, but just like you said, slow and deliberate.”

“Good,” Steve said, walking up to the deadlift platform.  “Just remember, the only time you’ll get injured ever in weight lifting is when you do things too fast or too hard for too long.  Keep consistent and do it right and you’ll be fine and well on your way to a bigger, stronger back in no time.  Now it’s time to get busy…”


Side notes…

If I hear one more person tell me that they’re back got injured from deadlifts, I’m going to scream out loud, pull out the remaining follicles of hair that I have left and smash everything within a 10 meter radius of my reach.  Remember, it’s not the exercise that’s harmful, it’s the user.

Deadlifts are one of the best lowerback exercises around not to mention they’re the most efficient lift ever devised.  What could be simpler than a pull from the floor?

Despite being relatively simple though the deadlift requires one to have the mobility to get into a low crouch, while keeping the head neutral, the back in a tight arched position, the shoulders pulled back and down, all while keeping the shins vertical, arms extended and tight.

Many people can’t do this, nor hold this position for very long, which often results in injury while deadlifting.  That and using too much weight too fast or simply going beyond what the body can handle.

Deadlifts can be hazardous, but as the previous story relayed they can also be the key to getting a strong and powerful physique, while helping your back stay injury free.

-CPT SMASH –The key to developing a back that is strong and injury free is a well-developed progression in the deadlift.

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