Where The Treadmill Has Failed, The Deadlift Will Prevail

by Dr. Christopher on March 28, 2011

Most people use the treadmill and elliptical machine.  “Cardio” … check.

They use the leg press machine or the leg extension machine or hip abductor machine.  Technology … check.

Now, let’s come back to reality.

 The Purpose of the Deadlift

The everyday life purpose of the deadlift is to learn how to pick up a weight off of the floor. 

If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that if I asked a person off of the street to pick up a dollar off of the street, they’re going to bend their low back without bending at the hips.  The deadlift retrains people to move the way nature intended.


  • Increase posterior chain strength: the glutes and hamstrings are the strongest muscles you have in the body.  Because they get “shut off” from sitting on your butt from elementary school through the rest of your life, you need to learn to use them again.
  • Increase overall muscle mass: When I personal trained in Buffalo, I watched the samne individuals on the treadmill or elliptical machine everyday for months at a time.  Their body composition never changed.  Then I observed individuals in the weight room lifting heavy things.  They were lean.   Increasing muscle mass is more effective than burning calories away on the hamster wheel.  Just saying. 
  • The BEST Postural Exercise I know of: Doing a deadlift properly can reverse the hyperlordosis  (too much low back curve, aka hyperextension) so common with our society from excessive sitting.  It can also retrain the shoulders to sit back and down and the neck to maintain its neutral posture. 

Key Concepts:

  • Maintain neutral spine: The spine must be maintained in its neutral posture.  This balances the load you’ll be lifting between the disc in the front of the spine and the two facet joints in the back of the spine. 
  • Keep the hips back and push the heels into the floor: Allows you to preferentially use the posterior chain.
  • Perform less than 5 repetitions.  The most common mistake people make is that they work with too light of a weight too slowly.  Doing deadlifts some days with very heavy weights for less than 5 reps will work on your strength and power.  Doing deadlifts other days with lighter weights but in an interval method or Crossfit-like fashion can work on your cardio while getting some real work done. 


Your Exercise Program

Working out of your home, these 4 exercises can take you a long way because you don’t need equipment.

When you’re ready to incorporate deadlifts for the purposes listed above, you can expect more results out of your fitness program.

Performing conventional “cardio” work has its place, as do some machines.  But for the vast majority of us, we’re missing the big picture.

We need to perform exercises that get us better at everyday life. 

Sometimes you have to deadlift lots of little weeds out of your garden.  Other times, you have to pick up the temper tantrum that was your four-year-old child. 

Either way, performing deadlifts can help.

How can the deadlift make your life easier?

Dr. Christopher Stepien is a chiropractor, chronic pain specialist, and A.R.T. provider, and clinic director of the Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic in Morristown, NJ.  He practices out of Crossfit Morristown.

  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • email
  • Digg

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Beate April 2, 2011 at 4:15 am

Another useful post – thanks Chris! Because of my back injury I tried to avoid this movement over years – even without any weights. Avoiding it caused further problems and pain. This will be a new exercise in my program. Thanks again for your inspiration and help!
Beate recently posted..020411

Dr. Christopher April 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I love to help Beate. If there are any issues or stretches you think you need, let me know and I’ll make some videos for them. If you have any low back pain with the movement, the problem is your back, not the exercise. The question is then, how do we fix the back. The deadlift is necessary for the health of our body.

Andrew Miner, DC April 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Great post Dr. Christopher! It’s like we’re sharing a brain sometimes. My patients are deadlifting and squatting too!

Dr. Christopher April 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm

You’re awesome Andy. Thank you for commenting and hope you are well!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: