|Yeah, I know, it’s baby weight. And no doubt she bought
those gloves because they match her purse…
I love deadlifting. It is my single favourite exercise, and I genuinely look forward to my long Sunday workout sessions in the gym where I always try to deadlift as much weight as I can with good form. Deadlifting is, after (back) squats, the second most important, and second most fundamental, exercise that any man (or woman) can undertake.
For men, however, there is a second, and very important, reason to deadlift: it develops grip strength like nothing else can.
Halfbreed wrote a very good post recently on the importance of developing a strong and firm grip. He is entirely correct to argue that a strong handshake is a marker of social, and sexual, status among men. If you have a weak handshake, you are signalling to other men that you are weak; but if you have a strong and powerful grip, you are automatically signalling strength, focus, and discipline. These are traits that men instinctively respect, which is why you must cultivate them.
Think upon the last job interview that you went to. When you shook hands with a male interviewer, did his grip increase or decrease your estimation of his skills? In my case, whenever I’ve gone to an interview- either as the candidate or the interviewer- the handshake has always helped confirm my estimation of my interlocutor’s abilities. The guys that I have spoken with who have had weak (or, worst of all, dead-fish) grips have always been the ones that I have written off as future colleagues or bosses. The ones that shake firmly, with good eye contact and a powerful grip, are the ones that I have automatically found myself respecting and willing to listen to. Over the last few years, some of my best friends have told me quite clearly that they are surprised by how strong my grip is given that I don’t look like a meathead.
Nowadays, I am told that I have a grip of iron, and the reason for that is very simple: I deadlift heavy weights.
Respect among real men is not given; it is earned. Developing a strong grip is one way, among many, to earn that respect. And that, ultimately, is precisely why you should- indeed, must– deadlift.
With that in mind, here a few deadlift pointers that I’ve picked up over the last three years:
- Gym gloves are for pussies. Don’t wear them, dude. Just don’t. You’ll look unutterably gay. Calloused hands and chalk dust on your gym pants are the inevitable by-products of blood, sweat, toil, and tears in service to the Lord of Steel. Wear them as badges of honour.
- Don’t lift with straps until you can lift your max weight with good form. I personally have very little use for lifting straps because I feel that they encourage men to sacrifice form for heavier weight. However, once you hit a weight level where you know you can lift more with good form but your grip is the limiting factor, that is the time to start thinking about using straps.
- Get your stance right. You want your shoulders starting directly above the bar- not in front of it, not behind, but so that a completely vertical line from the floor, through the bar, would also go straight through your shoulders.
- GRIP LIKE YOU MEAN IT. You don’t develop grip strength from deadlifting by being a wimp. When you grip the bar, your knuckles should go white from the sheer pressure that you’re putting on the steel.
You may go to a gym where they frown on things like deadlifting and chalk. If this is the case, you are probably in a gym that also frowns on ideas like “strength” and “fitness” and “having balls”, which means that you need to quit that gym as soon as humanly possible.
You may also be in a gym where they don’t like it when people grunt loudly or drop heavy weights. In that case, just ignore the people giving you dirty looks. They’re jealous that they can’t lift what you can. It’s their problem. Just concentrate on doing the best you can with what you have.
Deadlifting has many, many benefits, but the single greatest benefit of all may well be the way it improves the way you present yourself to other people, and the signals that your grip strength gives off to them. For that reason alone, you absolutely MUST deadlift.