How long does it take to change your life? Follow author Robert Fure as he begins a 100 day trek to a fitter, healthier life by following this simple program. Today, we talk about melting Holiday Pounds with the Deadlift on the 100 Days Program.
100 Days of Fitness
Welcome back to 100 Days of Fitness. If you’ve been keeping track of this column, you may have noticed it went AWOL for a little bit. I apologize, though if you’ve been keeping yourself busy with work, gift buying, giving thanks, and turkey eating, you no doubt understand the hectic nature of the Holiday season.
You might also know that the Holiday season, which usually refers to Thanksgiving through New Years (but let’s not forget all that Halloween candy – and booze), is when people gain weight. Many people can expect to gain between 2 and 6 pounds over these two months – not a terrible amount, but if you never do anything about it in just 3 years time you’ve changed shape and went up at least a pants size.
With so much alcohol and delicious food around, it’s easy to overeat and indulge in the wrong things – sugars, breads, pies, candies, cookies, cakes. If you can bake it and cover it in sugar, you’re going to come across it in this time period. You might even have a glass or seven of egg nog this year – with each glass packing a super dense 340 calories.
I’m not going to tell you to avoid all this deliciousness. No, that would be unreasonable. Have some pie. Have some egg nog. Just don’t overdue it. Why am I being so lenient with you? Because I have the cure for the Holiday Pounds you might put on it. And it’s a painful cure, one that is going to hurt so good you’re going to wish you never heard me say it.
Hopefully if you’ve come this far with us and you’ve been reading up on exercises, you know that the squat is a pretty amazing exercise that activates a ton of muscles and helps burn calories, melt fat, strengthen your entire body, and flood your body with the good stuff like testosterone and growth hormone. So kudos to you for doing the squat. Now it’s time to meet the squat’s daddy: The Deadlift.
Odds are you aren’t doing this exercise. Few people tackle this Olympic lift and with good reason. It’s hard. It’s draining. It kicks your ass. It makes your legs hurt. It’s one of the “Big Three” lifts people talk about – but usually never do all of. The other two are squats and bench press, for reference.
The deadlift is a killer. It uses more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. It can be done with minimal equipment and with minimal space. You can lift light (no thanks) or you can go heavy. It will tire you out, help you lose weight, and motivate your entire body to firm up and add muscle. Targeting primarily your legs, the deadlift also slams your core, back, forearms, and pretty much everything from head to toe.
If you’re going to have a few slices of pie this year, you’re going to have to deadlift. There are two varieties and each are going to hammer you. One slightly more so than the other. They are:
Stiff Legged Deadlift
To begin, step up the loaded bar. Put a slight bend in your knees and bend over at the hips, keeping your back straight. Grasp the bar shoulder length apart and then rise back up at the hips, again keeping your back straight. You’ll feel this primarily in the hamstrings and you won’t be able to do a ton of weight to start. In fact, when you first begin, use a fairly light weight to make sure you’ve got the form down – we don’t want to strain your back.
The bread and butter. The lift. The no excuses leg killer. Does it sound frightening? It really shouldn’t if you’re choosing the correct weight, but you can punish yourself with this exercise if you want to. To execute, step to the bar – your toes will be underneath it. Squat down, keeping your back straight. Your shoulders will come over the bar as you descend. Grip the bar. Now stand up, making sure not to arch your back. Feel it through your legs as you straight them, then drive forward with your hips at the top of the movement so you end standing straight up with the bar held at waist level. Then reverse the movement back down.
There you have it. It might not sound like much, but with a name like “the deadlift” you know it’s got some venom to it. You can try single arm deadlifts with the weights you have at home, you can use sandbags or any heavy object, but this is one where you might want to head to the gym if you don’t own an actual weight set. Always start slow, get the movement down, then add on the weight. Kill it.
With all the Holiday hustle and bustle, I haven’t done great sticking to my program or weighing in regularly, hence my sudden devotion to the deadlift to get back on track. If you find yourself getting sidetracked, don’t give up or back down. Recognize your failure and take the appropriate steps to rectify it.