In a word: Deadlifts.
The first time I saw a dead lift, I was notably unimpressed. At the time, all competition weightlifting seemed ridiculous. Under 10 seconds of work for a gold medal? In contrast to 60-90 minute matches, marathons, triathlons, and other feats of athleticism which touted endurance as the ultimate quality, the weightlifters seemed…lazy. And nothing seemed lazier than the deadlift. I remember yelling at the TV.
You’re just going to pick it up to your waist?!? Awesome. Maybe next time you can just roll it around the platform and get a *#&$&$* medal!
And that’s a perfectly acceptable view…for a child (minus the profanity of course). As adults, we should realize that true athletic pursuits include a myriad of qualities and anatomic systems. The aerobic endurance system is just one small piece of the the puzzle. When it comes to exercising strength for the central nervous system, nothing beats the deadlift.
It will tax your nervous system in a way that no other lift can. As a result it will make you stronger in your you’re daily life, in sport, and prepare you for unexpected challenges in ways that no other lift can. It will make you recover sooner, stand up straighter, and protect you from injury.
And the best part?
You can make extraordinary gains with the deadlift with little-no increase in mass. This means that any athlete in any age group can reap the benefits of this powerful exercise. Consider:
5 key facts about the Deadlift
1) It is the heaviest you can go.
No other free weight lift can go heavier than the deadlift. While some athletes will develop an unhealthy obsession and asymmetric focus on the bench press, the deadlift is the true king of heavy and should be your primary lift for increasing the poundage.
2) It works all the muscles (almost).
From from your entire posterior chain (legs, back and neck) to your core to tension in your arms, wrists and fingertips, the deadlift puts maximum tension on almost every muscle in your body. About the only muscles that are spared are in your chest.
3) It turns you into a human generator.
Because this lift is the heaviest, and works all your muscle, it sends incredible amounts of voltage coursing down your spine, firing off massive action potentials in your muscles. Consequently, the deadlift is unparalleled in its ability to develop the effectiveness of your motor neurons in your central nervous system.
4) They work your recovery system.
With development of your central nervous system comes an improved ability to recovered from high intensity activities. The ATPase potassium pumps throughout your body are primarily responsible for stopping soreness. Maximum strength gains will therefore reduce your soreness throughout the training cycle.
5) They are a building block for improving your program.
As the king of strength and back exercises, the deadlift begins to open doors for you to improve your physical fitness in other ways. Running becomes easier. You can start to develop you Olympic lifts and improve your VO2. New metabolic training exercises become available to you to increase your lactate threshold. You start to injury proof yourself against hernias and other lower back pains. In short, every aspect of your physical fitness can improve.