The Most Important Exercise You Should Be Doing (but Probably Aren’t!)

| Fitness
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If someone came up to you on the street and asked what’s the most important exercise they should be doing, what would you say? Squats? Pushups? The dreaded burpees? The truth is, the most effective workout is actually the deadlift.

The deadlift, similar to the squat, uses many muscles groups at the same time — which means you will build more lean muscle and burn more fat. But unlike the squat, a deadlift utilizes the upper and lower body.

How to do it:

A proper deadlift should 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.

Don’t have a barbell or body bar? No problem. Try out these deadlift variations.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip on a dumbbell in each hand. Without allowing your lower back to round, stand up with the dumbbell. Fully extend the hips and then lower the dumbbells back to the floor.

Kettlebell Deadlifts

Begin with your feet hip-width apart, about 6 to 8 inches. Set the kettlebell on the floor between your toes. Drop your hips back and down as you reach for the kettlebell. Make sure your chest is lifted and back is flat or slightly arched. Do not round your back. Shift you weight into your heels so you can wiggle your toes. Exhale and push through your heels, up through the hamstrings and glutes to lift yourself to standing. The kettlebell should move upward in a perfectly vertical line. Push your hips forward to completely unhinge and finish the movement.

Romanian Deadlift

Hold your dumbbells so they’re resting on your thighs, palms facing you. Shoulders should be back with your back slightly arched and your knees a slight bend. Lower the dumbbells down to your shins by pushing your butt back as far as you can, keeping your weight in your heels. Keep dumbbells close to your body, gaze forward and shoulders back. Return to starting position in a slow and controlled motion, driving the hips forward to stand tall.

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pulls 

Hold the kettlebell while standing with your legs wide and toes turned out to the side. Let the kettlebell hang in front of you. Lower yourself as if you were doing a sumo squat, but keep your upper body tall. Come up from the squat in an explosive upright row, bringing your elbows out at shoulder height. Do this in a fluid motion always remembering to keep your abs tight and your upper body tall.

Suitcase Deadlifts

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, shoulders back and back straight. Holding your dumbbells at your side, slowly squat so the dumbbells touch the ground (not resting just touching), hold and then return to starting position.

Lunge to Single Leg Deadlift

Begin by grasping a dumbbell in each hand. Take a wide step out with the left leg and lower yourself into a lunge position. Keep your back straight, your chest up and your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Push off with the back leg (weight in your heel), while straightening the front leg. Then, slowly balance yourself on one leg, lowering the dumbbells and chest toward the ground, be sure to keep the abs in tight and the back straight. From this position, return back to standing position and repeat the whole movement stepping out into a lunge with your left leg.

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