The ultimate man move is the deadlift. It’s right up there with the bench press. But you know women can do both of those! The deadlift is an excellent exercise to increase glute, lower back and leg strength. It improves your posture by practicing good form and developing strong supporting muscles. It’s one of the easiest exercises to perform, and totally rewarding. You’d be surprised how much you’ll be able to lift and how quickly you’ll be able lift your body weight.
A proper deadlift can be performed with control. The barbell needs to be close to the shins with the hands placed just outside of the legs. You can try a split grip, which is when you wrap one hand over the bar and the other wraps under the bar. All of your weight needs to be in your heels and the back is arched. Slightly bend your knees, but don’t let them cross over the ankles by more than an inch.
When you lift, squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels. Take a nice big breath and hold it as you raise the bar. Exhale once the bar gets into position at the top of the movement. You need to push your hips forward. The bar should be pressing against your body at this point.
>> Read more: 4 Reasons to Start Lifting Weights Now
By working these huge muscles, you’re burning a ton of calories. Muscle maintenance requires a lot of energy, so even after you workout, you’ll be fueling that maintenance work with calories from fat.
Women tend to store fat in several places, but mostly in the soft tissues around the hips, thighs and backside. So when you deadlift, you activate those surrounding muscles. As the muscles get stronger, the muscle to fat ratio changes for the better. Click here for 58 other moves to tone your thighs and legs.
Not only do you use the leg muscles, but the core and the heart get a workout, too. The core is completely engaged from the big-time muscle fibers to the deep-core stabilizers. Your heart has to pump blood quickly and with high volume to accommodate the demand of the lift. It also helps you raise your VO2Max, which is your body’s ability to transport oxygen (a good marker to measure your fitness level).
USING IT SAFELY
The deadlift is a safe exercise when done properly. If you feel like you can lift the weight, you drop it. No harm, no foul – no risk of being pinned under the bar or dropping it on yourself. With any weight-bearing movement, you must practice good form and build up slowly. This is why when you ask a guy what he can bench, he knows. Same goes for deadlifting – you know what your maximum pull is and you respect that limit. You can also use that max number to calculate what percentage of that max you’d like to use for your workout.
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If you want to start deadlifting, but aren’t sure how to start, ask a trainer for help at your gym. Once you get the form down, you can practice more on your own. The key points to a deadlift: sturdy stance, bar proximity (close), good grip, arched back, drive through heels and push through the hips to lock out. Go show those boys what’s up.