You might raise an eyebrow or two when you hear that deadlifting is good for you. Your brain might conjure up someone bending over with stiff legs and a rounded back lifting a heavy barbell off the ground. Despite the misconceptions, deadlifting is simply lifting a heavy weight off the ground by using lower-body strength and upper-body stability. When done correctly, you will gain its benefits that can help you lift that heavy luggage without hurting yourself.
Deadlifting works all the core muscles that gym machines do not train, including your deep abdominal and hip muscles, buttocks and deep spinal muscles, according to the "Strength and Conditioning Journal." The core works with other muscles in your body to keep your body in alignment and maintain movement control so that you don't put out your back or lose your balance. Aside from movement, the diaphragm, internal obliques and intercostal muscles in your ribs assist in proper breathing when you lift. When your core is stable and strong, you can lift objects off the ground that you couldn't do so with your upper body alone. When you train with one dumbbell rather than two, your core muscles work harder to maintain your balance and movement control.
If you want a stronger and more curvy butt, get off the step machine and do some deadlifts instead. The glutes, a group of muscles in the buttocks, are the main power generators during the deadlift. When you bring your torso upright, you push your hips forward to help your upper body lift the weight off the ground. When you bend your torso forward to lower the weight down, your glutes and core work together to maintain alignment and the speed at which you lower the weight so that you don't just drop it on the floor.
Single-leg deadlifts work on each side of your core, glutes and legs. It can reveal whether one side of your body moves better than the other side and it works on your balance and body awareness, writes physical therapist Gray Cook, co-founder of Functional Movement Systems. To do this exercise, put a 20-pound dumbbell on the ground in front of your feet. Extend your left leg behind you as you bend your torso forward and reach for the weight with your right hand. As you do so, avoid rotating your body excessively. Bend your standing leg slightly and do not round your spine. Once you grab the weight, exhale and push your left hip forward to help bring your torso upright. When you stand, your right foot should be next to your left foot but most of the weight should be on your left foot.
Dumbbells can be hard to reach if you cannot touch your toes easily from a standing position. Use an elevated platform, like a stack of aerobic steps or a low stool to bring the weights closer to you. You may also use a kettlebell because it is easier to reach. Since deadlifting can be a challenging exercise to perform, work with a qualified fitness professional who is familiar with deadlifting before attempting this on your own.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.