I know this article will upset many of the masses out there as what I’m what about to say goes against the dogma belief that the deadlift are part of the big three exercises for bodybuilding. Doing conventional barbell deadlift for developing a better looking physique is wrong I feel and pointless.
Traditional bodybuilding or muscle building involves doing exercise for multiple repetitions. The problem with this is that the deadlift is not designed as a multiple rep exercise. Dave Tate a professional power lifter has stated “One of the top 10 deadlifting mistakes is doing deadlifts for repetitions.” (1)
The deadlift is considered one of the most natural of movements picking something up off the floor we have been doing this since we were caveman. Still I dare you to think when anybody would pick something off the floor then put it down only pick it up continuously ever in life. Traditionally in life you pick something up move it some place and put it down then you go back and pick something else up again.
One of the biggest reasons for the dogma that the deadlift is a superior exercise for muscle building is that it uses so many muscles and you can lift really heavy weights. If this was the case then the traditional Olympic lift would be the greatest exercise for building muscle as it uses ever muscle in the body but you never see bodybuilders in the gym ever attempt Olympic lifts.
It is for the reason that is involves so many muscles that is an inferior muscle building exercise. As you do multiple repetitions sets your smaller muscles will get tired before the bigger muscles. On top of that as your smaller or weaker muscles get tired your form will start to waiver almost setting you up for injury. Also since so many muscles are involved it is highly taxing on your central nervous system make you weaker for the rest of your workout so you don’t push the other muscles as hard.
Now understand I am not eliminating the deadlift all together. Variations of the deadlift I do think are great for muscle building I just don’t believe the traditional barbell off the floor deadlift has any place in muscle building only powerlifting and only for a single repetition. Many people claim the deadlift is a back exercise and doing Rackpulls also known as ¾ deadlifts are a great alternative that will allow you to pull a heavier weight that you upper back will benefit from while eliminating your weaker lower back from the equation allowing for a great back exercise. Many other people claim the deadlift is a hamstring exercise doing the Stiff -Legged deadlift or a Romanian deadlift with lighter weights will allow you to focus on the hamstrings much better without taxing your system so you can continue to get a great workout in. As for your lower back I think it being the weaker link you should use back extensions to strength it. At the end of the day it’s better on focusing on all the areas that individually to make a stronger physique this way when you do need to lift something that is really heavy for that one time you won’t have a weak link to worry about.
(1) Dave Tate. (Jan 3, 2002). T-Nation. In The Dead Zone. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_dead_zone.