Squats and pushups are great, but if you really want to take your workout to the next level, you need to incorporate deadlifts. They provide a total body workout and when done you do them progressively (like this challenge requires), the results will be that much more noticeable.
The Benefits of Doing Deadlifts
Before we get to the workout plan, it helps to know why you’re doing it in the first place—you’re more likely to actually stick with it if you know what you’re going to get out of it. Here’s why deadlifts are important:
• Strengthens and tones your lower back, which is a hard area to target
• Strengthens your hips, waist, and backside, which are a lot more important than most guys think
• Improves cardiovascular health when done with enough intensity—heavy lifting gets your heart rate up and works the respiratory system, the same way a traditional aerobic exercise would
• Helps to burn more fat (as do all resistance training exercises)
• Helps to build core strength and stability, which can improve your posture
• It’s a compounding exercise that works the whole body, because it hits so many different muscle groups
• Helps to improve your form for other exercises
• Improves your grip, especially if you do them without wearing wraps
• Doesn’t require gym machines—all you need is a barbell and weighted plates
• You don’t need a spotter (unless you’ve never done a deadlift before, in which case it might help to have someone watching the first few days for proper form)
In order to really reap the benefits of a deadlift, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing it properly, especially if you’ve never done one before. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
• Your stance should be shoulder-width apart and your head should be in a neutral position (not looking down or up, but straight ahead).
• While keeping your back straight, bend forward (with knees bent) and grip the bar for your setup lift—start with an overhand grip. Your inner forearms should touch the outside of your thighs, with the bar right in front of your shins. Use your legs to lift the bar until your torso is fully in the upright position. You’re now ready to start your first set.
• Your shoulders should always be pressed back, never hunched forward. Also make sure to keep your abs contracted, which will help to keep your hips grounded and neutral. It also gives you extra lifting power if you tighten your glutes too.
• Keep the movement smooth and fluid through the whole set—try not to jerk the bar (or your body) when lifting.
The 30-Day Challenge
The chart below outlines your deadlift workout plan for the next 30 days. You’ll be doing three sets a day with varying reps for each set. You’ll notice that from day 7 onward, your last set has “reps + failure”—this means you’re going to power through and keep going until you can’t possibly lift anymore. Start with a weight that you’re comfortable with, but it should still feel challenging, since the whole purpose of this is strength building. You also don’t want to go too heavy that you’re compromising your form.
“Deadlifts: The King of Mass-Builders?” Bodybuilding.com; http://goo.gl/zCpTf, last accessed May 27, 2015.