If your aim is to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, deadlifts are your best friend. In this article we explain the importance of this great exercise and also proper deadlift form.
So what makes deadlifts so great? Along with barbell squats, the deadlift is one of the most effective weight lifting exercises you can possibly have in your workout routine.
They require huge amounts of strength and energy to perform, and will stress your entire body like no other lift. The main muscles worked during deadlifts are the lower back, upper back, and your thighs, but they will also work almost every other muscle group you have so you will see muscle gains everywhere.
Also, just as with doing squats, performing heavy deadlifts will force your body to produce extra growth hormone and testosterone since they stress the body so much (this is a good thing). This will increase your strength levels on other exercises such as the bench press and barbell row.
So if they are so good for you, why isn't everybody in the gym deadlifting? Simple put, they are perhaps the most uncomfortable and painful exercise to perform. They requrie a lot of willpower and dicipline. Just like with doing squats, people will make excuses to steer clear of including the deadlift in their routine.
Those with the determination to achieve the best muscle building results will do deadlifts without hesitation, and learn the proper deadlift technique. You simply won't get the same muscle building results without them in your arsenal.
Ok, here I will explain how you should be performing deadlifts correctly. There's a few different variations of the deadlift, but I will be explaining how to perform a standard, bent-legged deadlift.
Before starting, place the barbell on the ground. Stand in front of the bar with your shins as close to the bar as possible. Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart.
Grip the bar about shoulder width apart. You can grip it with either an overhand grip, or an alternate grip with one palm facing out and the other palm facing in. Choose whichever is more comfortable to you.
Get into a squat position and make sure the bar is close to your shins. Now, whilst keeping your back as flat as possible, your abs tight, and your head looking upwards, lift the bar up off the ground by pushing with your legs. This is important, lift with your legs, not your back!
You should lift the bar up like this until you are in a standing position. Here's a tip: when lifting the weight up, think of pushing your heels through the floor.
Ok now that you are standing with the bar, lower it back down to the starting squat position by following the same path as when you lifted it up.
You can rest the bar on the ground for a second or two, and then lift it up back up again. Repeat this until you get to your desired number of reps or until your deadlift form starts to slip. Don't continue with poor form because you have a high chance of injury, especially if the weight is heavy.
You need to be careful with deadlifts, a lot of back injuries occur with lifters doing them with poor form. It's absolutely critical that you exercise with good deadlift technique, otherwise you will be out of the gym and into a wheelchair in no time!
When you're just starting out with the exercise, or practicing your form, remember to use light weights. When you begin to get the hang of good deadlift form, then you can start lifting heavier weights.
If I had to repeat something to you about correct deadlift technique, it would be:
Always remember to keep your back flat, abs tight, and look straight/upwards slightly.
You may be wondering how many sets you should do and how often you should do them. I would recommend that you perform deadlifts once a week. 2-3 heavy sets should do the trick for you. Remember to do a few warm-up sets with a light weight first, and you might want to add some streching before and after too.
Now you understand the importance of the deadlift, and you know the proper deadlift form, you have no excuses not to add them to your weight training routine. You will be able to pack on more muscle mass than ever before!
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly structured, well-balanced and optmized training and nutrition plan for your specific goals (which if you're reading this is likely building muscle mass as a hardgainer/skinny guy).
To do that there's essentially 3 paths you can take, each with their pros and cons:
Path A: Design Your Own Mass Gain Program (cheapest)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
Path B: Follow A Proven Mass Gain Program ($)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point.
Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (you can see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of when I first started.
Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another smart guy with the real-world results to back it up, who has another effective and proven step by step online program that's helped thousands of guys transform over a few months (rather than years).
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer ($$$)
The most expensive option to achieve your dream physique, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but you understand that last sentence I said you won't need it ;)
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)