Whether you are hitting the gym to get some serious results or just dragging yourself there, because you had one drink too many when you jotted down your New Year’s resolution bet with your friends, time is precious. Therefore, your best chance at a swift exit will come in the form of compound exercises — the ones that work a number of muscle groups at the same time.
Personal trainers and avid fitness fans alike will tell you that it is the mighty squat all over. Well, they are not wrong. Not only do they strengthen the stabiliser muscles and supporting ligaments, which help your main leg muscles work more efficiently, squats are also an excellent exercise that improves your posture and stance.
But are squats the only compound exercise that offers "larger-than-life" benefits for your body?
Move Over, Squats
Not really a big fan of squats? Rejoice, as we introduce to you the queen of all lifts — the deadlift! It rivals the squat and is perfect for women.
The exercise takes its name from the "dead" or stationary weights lifted directly off the ground. Depending on your preference, these loads can be either barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells.
While both squats and deadlifts are by far the two best compound exercises that will help strengthen and tone your entire body, the latter is considered to be less strenuous than the former.
Deadlifts offer an opportunity to be one of your heaviest movements and it is not uncommon for a woman to deadlift more than her own body weight. A big lift like this typically leads to equally big returns in strength and power, and hence, improving your feminine proportions through better toning and the development of lean muscle.
Still not convinced? We give you seven more reasons why you should be dead focused on including this exercise movement into your workout regime.
1. Strengthen Hamstrings and Butt
Do we have your attention yet? We shall not mince our words. If you want shapely legs and a sexy bum, deadlift!
Because we sit so often, our glutes and hamstrings tend to switch off. Deadlifts engage the entire posterior chain (the backside of your body), including the hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and back, as well as 360 degrees of your core musculature. Targeting the posterior chain can also be corrective for women who are typically quad dominant.
In addition, utilising that many muscles in a single movement results in a powerful, anabolic effect on the body. Heavy and intense lifting normally creates a hormonal environment that is great for both strength gains and fat loss.
2. Excellent Fat Burner
For anyone who would like to lose that extra few pounds, deadlifts can come in very handy. Deadlifts facilitate the rapid burning of body fat and they complement dieting and aerobic exercises.
There is a good reason why most lifters are dead set on including deadlifts in their workouts. Deadlifts exert your entire posterior chain, activating both your upper and lower body and burning tons of calories in the process.
Women who perform it regularly with the proper technique are able to burn fat more efficiently than those following other methods like cardio, jogging or even dieting.
3. Group-Muscle Workout
The deadlift is similar to the squat, in which it forces you to work several muscle groups simultaneously. More muscles worked translates into more lean muscle and less fat in the long run. The added benefit with the deadlift is that it uses more muscles in each repetition (or rep) than its rival. While the squat is great for your lower body, the deadlift forces your arms and upper body to work too.
Deadlifting is the best workout for those who would love to exercise as many muscles as they can in a single session. Deadlifts engage all the major muscle groups of the body — your upper, lower and major back muscles. If you have no time for different exercise routines in a single session, compensate with deadlifts.
4. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Try performing 10–20 reps of deadlifts in a single set and you will notice an increase in your heartbeat rate. Deadlifts can be an alternative to aerobics as they work the same way to increase your cardiovascular ability.
The intensity of the exercise drives much-needed blood flow to your muscles, forcing your heart to work harder. This will prompt your body to better transport and utilise your oxygen supply while exercising, promoting stronger cardiovascular health.
5. Improve Grip Strength
What most people do not realise is that when they perform deadlifts, they are actually working out their finger muscles as well. While most of the lifting strength comes from the forearms and biceps, you are relying on your fingers to hold the weight in place. In time, you will increase your grip strength, which may come in handy the next time you climb the stairs with your groceries.
6. Improve Posture and Stability
If you have problems standing or sitting upright, you should give deadlifting a go. The idea behind deadlifting is to enhance core stability and strength through a stronger lower back, waist and hips. Regular deadlifting can help you achieve the appropriate posture, as it works all the essential muscle groups responsible for your stance.
7. Applicable to Daily Life
When you perform deadlifts over time, you will realise that lifting things becomes easier. Unlike a bench press, which requires you to lie on your back and push the barbell upwards, deadlifts can be related to your everyday movement as you lift items off the ground or from other surfaces on a daily basis, instead of pushing them.
Queen of All Lifts
The deadlift is an excellent exercise for those looking to build strength and fitness and to boost overall health. It has become increasingly popular among women of late because it makes gym time challenging and more efficient.
And of course, it possesses its own aesthetic benefits — deadlifts can lead to that round, lifted rear view we all long for and love. And we dare say, so do the men!