In weight lifting, a deadlift is an exercise that is performed to increase back strength. Due to the amount of people who perform the exercise incorrectly, it has a bad reputation and is often feared by beginning body builders. When done properly, the weightlifter will develop his back muscles, as well as the muscles of the legs, arms and glutes. With this weight lifting exercise, the lifter keeps his back straight while the weight of the barbell tries to bend it, building back strength. There are two versions of the deadlift exercise; barbell, also known as Romanian, and hex-bar.
The barbell deadlift is the most popular amongst weight lifters, due to the fact that it strengthens the back muscles in the fastest time frame. To perform this exercise, the weight lifter stands with his feet shoulder width apart, and the bar resting 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in front of his shins. He looks forward while gripping the bar, keeping his arms straight and his hands 20 inches (51 cm) apart. With his back straight, he lifts the bar by pushing from his heels and squeezing his gluteal muscles. The exercise ends when the knees and hips are locked.
The hex-bar deadlift is done using a 56 inch (1.4 meters) hexagonal shaped bar. The weight lifter steps into the middle of the hex bar and stands with his feet slightly shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward and knees aligned over the toes. The lifter than squats down and places his hands on the grips located on both sides of the hex-bar. Using his legs, he lift the hex-bar straight up. Like the barbell version, the lifter must look forward, and keep his back straight, throughout the exercise, to lessen the risk of injury.
There are a couple of variations to the deadlift. Standing on a 3 inch (7.6 cm) box, so the bar starts near the top of the shoe, and performing the deadlift, allows the exercise to work the hips as well as the back. Keeping the legs semi-straight when performing the exercise will work the quads, hips and hamstrings in addition to the lower back. These versions add to the already existing hazards of this weight lifting exercise.
It is advised to always have a spotter when performing the deadlift. This will help assure the proper posture is kept throughout the exercise. Improper posture can result in hernias, hyper-extension of the back, bicep tears, and spinal disc injuries.