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The “I Don’t Deadlift” Guy

Pulling a loaded bar off the floor is a key component to strength, aesthetics, and self-respect.


We all know one of them: the “Oh, I don’t deadlift because [insert lame excuse here]” guy in the gym. Sometimes it’s his bad back, sometimes it’s a principle thing, sometimes they are just too damn lazy to perform a heavy compound movement. Either way, these are pussy excuses. And they need to stop at once.

First off, why wouldn’t you want to deadlift? Deadlifts, next to squats, are arguably the most beneficial movements one can perform. The payoffs range from increased strength (especially in the posterior chain), added muscle mass (especially in the hamstrings, core, and back), and even a boost to the testosterone. Deadlifts are an explosive power movement as well, which functionally translates to other pull-pattern movements.

So unless you’re against increasing strength and size, and against the athletic benefits of posterior-dominant pulling (like jumping or carrying things), then what exactly are you in the gym for? Taking selfies to convince people that you’re interested in more strength and size and athletic benefits?

Deadlifting should be the cornerstone of any strength or performance program. “Squats and deadlifts.” I can’t say this enough. “Squats and deadlifts!” If you were stuck on a desert island and could only perform two workout movements for the rest of your life, then without question those two movements should be squats and deadlifts. Let’s pretend that desert-island scenario is real. If you only  did squats and deadlifts, you’d actually be in better shape than about 80 percent of the guys crowding into commercial gyms who neglect these movements.

Look at it this way: You’re inevitably going to get in and out of a chair for the rest of your life. And you’re always going to have to pick things off the ground. So why wouldn’t you want to practice these two primal movements that simply make living everyday life that much easier?

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And have you ever felt the rush of a PR deadlift? Not just a max-effort pull, but a real PR? That means chipping away at a weight, week by week, slowly climbing up to a target weight, and that one training session when nothing matters but ripping that weight off the floor, conquering the almighty number—300 pounds, 500 pounds, 800 pounds, the number doesn’t matter. In fact, peole get too caught up in the number. The beauty of a PR is that it is personal and the thrill of it is an internal accomplishment. It’s tangible proof of all the hard work and dedication spent on mastering that lift.

I’m still trying to figure out the “I don’t deadlift” guy. With such a firm stance of conviction, there has to be another reason why someone would avoid a lift that is so beneficial to their training.

Maybe it’s their shoes?

Nope. Can’t be that. A deadlift can be performed barefoot. In fact, you’re probably better off lifting barefoot than in whatever shoes you’re wearing.

Maybe it’s a prior back injury?

First off, everyone’s had a back injury. Welcome to the wonderful world of weight lifting. To stop all deadlifting because of a back injury is like a fighter who stops throwing punches because they make his knuckles sore. Boo hoo. Get used to it. Plus, if your back’s been injured in the past, why wouldn’t you want to strengthen it so you don’t suffer from the same injury again? No one’s asking you to set a world record. Just pick something up. Anything. Even the bar. After all, something is better than nothing.

Maybe your gym doesn’t allow deadlifting?

If that’s the case, you need to change gyms immediately. Or else stop saying you go to a “gym,” because you don’t. You go to a “health club” and a lousy one at that. The “no deadlifting” rule is the bastardization of what this industry is becoming: a bunch of sissies who don’t lift heavy things. That is not a gym.

There really is no excuse not to deadlift. The benefits alone should be enough to convince you—let alone the thrill of the lift itself. It’s a fun lift, it makes you a better athlete, and it helps you look better naked. So I say to you, Mr. “I Don’t Deadlift” Guy, put down the curl bar and start lifting for real. All the calf raises and triceps extensions in the world won’t save you when you’re face-to-face with
some heavy-ass weight and you’re expected to pick it up. IM

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