What deadlifting has taught me about life and fitness

Let me start this article with a simple disclaimer: I am not a body builder. I am not a motivational writer. I am not a back pain specialist. Heck, I’m not even the most literate individual, but I am a person with a perspective and experience… one that I would like to share with you. I have gained and learned a lot from this simple, staple exercise, and so can you. It’s simply a matter of you needing to go out and just do it (Nike endorsement not included).

It’s hard to talk about deadlifting let alone weight training without falling into a few stereotypical categories.

Those include a hulking, testosterone driven, plain chicken and rice eating gym man rat, or a troubled woman with a planet fitness membership who swears by cardio in hopes of losing anywhere from 3 to 83 lbs. Some of you may actually go to the gym and work up a good sweat (hopefully), but unless you’re trying to make your booty bigger or train for the 2017 Strongman competition, most people neglect the deadlift.

They say “It’s too hard.” or “It’s dangerous… I’ll throw my back out.” These are the attitudes that are detrimental to building your physique, your attitude, and success in life.

Here’s what deadlifting has taught me about building a life and fitness routine I am proud of.

planet fitness deadlift


1. Something like deadlifts that may seem scary, difficult, or dangerous at first may actually prove to be quite beneficial for you in the long run.

Anyone who has written any type of motivational article or book, or given an inspirational speech can tell you that this is true regardless of what field it is being applied to: business, entrepreneurship, athletics, dating, etc. Whatever it may be, you can’t see the view from the top without climbing the mountain first.

When I made the decision to actually start working out with the deadlift, I was nervous, scared, and slightly lazy towards it. Entering a new and unfamiliar environment was always nerve racking. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how to use all the equipment, I didn’t know how much weight I needed and when I did figure it out, I felt inferior when the guy next to me was warming up with my max.

It’s also uncomfortable. I got through the first day and the next day I was so sore because my body had never had that much anabolic stress at one time. On top of that, I had to break the habit of laziness, go back the next day, and do it all over again.

Now all that seems horrible, but after a while I adapted. The pain of being sore doesn’t hurt as much. I know how all the equipment works and know how much weight I can feel comfortable (somewhat) moving. I started to like it because it became routine, a habit.

And a good one at that.

Six months down the road I began to notice I had grown, I gained good mass and lost bad weight. I looked more cut and toned, and overall just felt better, stronger, and more confident.

Getting over the initial starting hump is the most difficult task to achieving any type of goal, but once you get the ball rolling the snowball effect takes place. This concept can not only be applied to weight training and deadlifting, but to a vast array of other opportunities in life. Take starting a business for example. It’s going to take an immense effort to get a business going: start up, market, message, location, clients, trends. The list goes on, but once the ball gets rolling, it becomes much easier. Once you start producing income, it doesn’t seem to be as difficult anymore. It’s easier to make more money once you already have some right? Once all the stepping stones are achieved it’s just a matter of maintenance, growth and upkeep.

2. When life gives you a lot to deal with, you need to just pick that sh*t up and keep moving forward.

There’s no easy way to do a deadlift. In fact, when executing a deadlift, the force of gravity in its entirety is working against you. Unlike the squat or bench press where you start with the weight up on a rack and go from eccentric to contraction, the deadlift is the complete opposite. You also can’t half-ass the deadlift. You have to complete the full range of motion whereas in the squat and bench press you can shorten your Range of Motion (ROM) resulting in lesser development.

Applying this concept to life can be very beneficial to future development. When there’s a difficult task at hand, the best way to do it is to commit 100% at the beginning. Dive in head first, c*ck shit up, get it done, get it done right, and move on to the next thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be working out at the gym, starting a business, finishing an academic research paper, or even writing an inspiring article for prsuit.com. Take that difficult task, execute it properly, and move on the the next set.

You know what must be done.

planet fitness deadlift


3. Put your back into it.

I have been dealing with lower back pain for 5 or 6 years now. I have a disc herniation at L4 5 S1, that all started when I was 18 years old as a result of bad posture, weak muscles, stress, and strain. It hasn’t been pretty. It has caused me a lot of pain and turmoil in my youth (I say that at 24 years old). However, it has also taught me a couple important things: to value my youth and appreciate the little things like a pain free day. It has also increased my gratitude towards life, because it could always be worse. A little gratitude goes a long way. There are people out there that pray for your struggles.

Throughout all of my physical therapy (very helpful), chiropractic appointments (not very helpful in my particular case), doctor visits, and nerve blocks, there has been one thing that has been the most helpful to my recovery: strengthening the erector spinae. Or simply put, your back-muscle.

This muscle plays a huge roll in lower back pain issues. I don’t want too get too far into the anatomy and science, but simply put, this muscle plays is very important when it comes to the recovery of back pain. It’s the core muscle of back extension and erection, critically essential to athletics, and overall helps support the body and keep good posture.

On top of that, the erector spinae also works in conjunction with the abdominal region to create spinal stability. These muscles grouped together are referred to as the core. Simply put, this is your very center, the connection between the top half and lower half of the body. You put your core into every physical movement you preform. This also means you should put your core into everything you do in life. Real dedication and commitment comes from deep within. You can’t expect to get 100% out of something unless you are willing to put 100% in. Real effort will produce real results.

You aren’t going to accomplish much if you don’t put your heart, soul, and everything else you’ve got into the task at hand. You have to want it bad enough. Without that, you’re going to start strong, and then crash and burn before it’s even begun, and you won’t get the results you were expecting.

4. Full body work out, full mental challenge.

Deadlifting works more than just the lower back. The deadlift activates more muscles throughout the body than any other exercise. When executed properly, you will be using the Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calve muscles, entire Core region, Trapezius, and Forearms. An exercise, no matter how difficult it is, that incorporates this many muscles cannot be neglected.

The same principle applies to other scenarios in life as well. For example, say your boss offers you a promotion. It could be anything – going from an accountant to an operations manager, a line cook to a executive chef, a janitor at a gym to a personal trainer, whatever. Making a move like that is a huge step. Not only do you now have a lot more responsibilities, you also have a much larger list of skills that you are going to be honing in order to fulfill the position. Leadership, delegation, time management for not only yourself but your staff as well, public speaking, people skills. The list goes on.

Some people dive in head first, others hesitate. These people understand that they will be making more money, but it’s going to require a lot more work. This kind of situation (or exercise) simply cannot be neglected. You’re going to have to bust your ass, but just imagine where you’re going to be in a year or even six months. The development of multiple skills in your arsenal is more than worth the effort to train them.

Doing this requires not only physical strength and conditioning, but also mental. Not only are you training your body deadlifting, you also have to train your mind. Embracing a challenge such as this can seem very difficult and threatening to your mind and body, but once you see the benefits you begin to condition your thinking. It’s like taking a cold shower. It will be cold, It will always be cold, but your body will inevitably adapt to it.

You are training your mental resilience at the same time as your physical strength. Similar to putting your very core into crushing your goals and whatever else life throws at you, there is a certain magnitude of thinking that progressive and driven individuals possess. Every entrepreneur, CEO, millionaire, and driven individuals all share similar behaviors. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a perfect example. This is just an example, but these habits stem from a particular way of thinking, one that has to be trained and put to work over a period of time.

So, just like building your physique from a great exercise like the deadlift, building your mind is going to take some time and work. The two go hand in hand. The mind and body may seem like ying and yang, two opposites that balance out the whole, but remember when trained correctly, the mind can almost always trump the body.

5. Utilizing resources along the way to help make the task of lifting easier on one’s self.

Performing your personal max on deadlift is not an easy task.

Your gains will only go as far as your weakest link. That typically is your grip strength. Out of all the muscles activated, the forearms tend to give way first simply because all the weight is being supported by your fingers.

As with deadlifting, the overall distance you are going to go in life is as far as your weakest link allows you to go. You might be a master at your craft, you might be a great manager or sales rep on a one to one basis, but if your public speaking ability is not up to speed, it is going to be detrimental to your overall success.

Know that there are resources available to help you. When deadlifting, you can use lifting straps to aid in the overall progression of your lift. Now, your grip strength won’t be tested like it is without them, but that doesn’t mean your still won’t get results. You will be able to move more weight resulting in more gains because of this tool. You can also get a weight lifting belt. The lower back tends to be the next weakest link when preforming this exercise. Trust me I know all about it.

A weightlifting belt works by creating pressure in the abdominal cavity. When you strap in on nice and tight you may feel like you cant breathe. What is happening is when you activate your core when lifting your muscles push against the belt which isn’t going anywhere, so essentially the core pushes back on the spine creating more stabilizing pressure resulting in better strength and posture. Pretty sweet right? Not only that but it also helps protect your lower back against the extreme force put on it.

Imagine an undergrad student majoring in an English. He/she might be on point with their grades in the courses more closely associated with this field: advanced vocabulary, 17th century literature, and 19th century poetry, etc, but his/her math skills are lacking. He/she is still going to need to up their math skills to par or else how are they going to add up their students’ grades? There’s an easy way to take care of this – utilize free tutors that most collages provide. At the price of only your time and effort, you can use these services to work on your weakest link and escalate your abilities. If you have the tools to succeed why aren’t you using them?

6. Reaping the benefits.

One day, all your hard work will pay off. You’ll have that dream body, dream career, or intrinsic skill you’ve always wanted. Hard work is hard work, but it does pay off. You may not be where you want to be today, but that day will come. After all, Eddie Hall wasn’t born able to deadlift 1,102.31 lb… (Crazy I know right?!) Prince wasn’t born able to play 27 instruments, and Case Kenny wasn’t born an editor-in-chief of a progressive perspective website.

Once your hard work begins to pay off, the only thing you’ll wish is that you didn’t start sooner.

I hope this article gave you a different perspective on some things especially deadlifting. Also remember that the success of certain areas of your life will carry over, but carry the rest. Never neglect an opportunity because you don’t initially see the benefits, and always aspire to be the strongest version of yourself both physically and mentally.


Photo credit: 1, 2, 3