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What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today I want to talk to you about the deadlift.
And what’s sparking this discussion here today is a recent appearance by Strong Man, Robert
Oberst, on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Now, I didn’t need the viewers to alert me to this, as they
have, because I listen to the podcast. I’m a fan of Joe’s podcast. C.T. Fletcher has been on there, Sylvester
Stallone is going to be on there; I listen to it often. There’s a lot of content in this
podcast, but one thing in particular that has people bent and they want to know what
I think about it is this statement. I don’t want to take anything out of context. I want to just play it for you so you can
listen to it for yourself. ROBERT: I went from football to Strong Man,
and in football we’ve never done deadlifts. It was all hang-cleans and power-cleans. Which,
by the way, just a quick tip: deadlifts, if you’re deadlifting to be a better dead-lifter,
fine. If you’re not doing that for deadlift’s sake, then don’t f**king do it. The risk to reward ratio is a joke. JOE: For deadlifts? ROBERT: For deadlifts. JOE: Really? ROBERT: I mean, a lot of people aren’t going
to like that I’m saying that, but if you go into any NFL gym, or any division I college
football gym, and any athletics where people are actually getting paid, and it matters
what they’re doing; they’re not deadlifting. JOE: Really? ROBERT: They’re hang-cleaning and power-cleaning. JOE: Why is that? ROBERT: It’s the risk to reward ratio. It’s
so hard to be a great dead-lifter and not risk your low back and- JOE: Oh. ROBERT: And to be using your upper back properly.
There are so many little chances for you to get hurt. JEFF: All right, guys. Before you go and try
to jump down Robert’s throat or assume what I’m going to say in response to that, I think
we have to do a couple of things. Number one: we’re going to have to apply some context
to what he said, and we’ll do that in a second. Number two: we’re going to have to start with
the admission that, guys, I’m obviously someone who’s already buried a few exercises myself.
I threw, willfully, a couple of exercises into my Iron Graveyard to never be performed
again. One of them being the upright row, which was a sh*t exercise then, will be a
sh*t exercise in the future, and is a sh*t exercise now. I’ll say that because, as we know, you are
literally fighting your own body’s anatomy to perform it and we have alternatives that
provide a better response, nullifying the reason that we would ever have to do it in
the first place. We could say the same thing about the behind-the-neck shoulder press. Neither of those are necessary and I think
they deserve to be dead and buried. However, when it comes to the deadlift that’s not something
I would ever say. I believe the deadlift is one of the most fundamental movement patterns,
let alone training exercises. The deadlift is something that we all need
to be able to incorporate into our training programs and figure out a way to strengthen
ourselves, but [do it] the right way. Which leads us to some of the context of what Robert’s
talking about. I’ll start with the professional athlete side of it because I think what he’s
saying there, there’s a lot of truth and merit to that. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in a lot of
professional sports weight rooms. I’ve been in around a lot of professional athletes and
trained a lot of professional athletes. And I’ll tell you this: one of the revelations
you learn early on is that they’re not the best lifters. A lot of times they don’t
even have great form in the weight room. They didn’t get there by being great lifters.
They got here because of their innate talents. They got there because of their athleticism.
They got there because of their ability to compensate their way there. They’re masters
of compensation. They were able to overcome things that we may not be able to while being
able to still excel and perform. A lot of times what you’re left with is guys
that come to the weight room that are limited in a lot of different ways. Sometimes, not
forcing everybody to perform a lift because you know how valuable that lift is, is one
of the best ways a strength coach can go. I know the Oakland Raiders, my buddy is a
strength coach for the Oakland Raiders, and not everybody deadlifts straight from the
floor. There are guys that are 6′ 8″, 320lbs to guys that are defensive backs, and skilled
position players that lift a bit differently, and approach it a bit differently, and their
bodies align differently when they go there. Again, if you realize that, unfortunately,
the truth of the matter is that they’re not all getting there as great lifters. Like I
said. Their high school years, their formative years, the first time they ever learned the
deadlift could have been founded on a foundation that was severely cracked because no one ever
instilled in them the right way to do it. And they brought that with them to college.
And they brought that with them to the pros. While you try to intervene, it’s not always
something you’re capable of intervening on because, as I’ve said before, even their ability
to master the compensation here could hide some of those cracked flaws in their foundation. So, what they do with the Raiders is, they
lift with mats off the floor. They put ½” mats and they might elevate a few mats – two,
three, four mats – to allow the weights to come a little bit off the floor to get
them into a better body position. Not foregoing the deadlift altogether, but
even as Robert said, the exercises he said, yes, they’ll perform those as well because
they could provide some additional benefits that might not subject somebody to the risk.
He talked about the risk to reward ratio. That’s a real issue, guys. When you’re talking
about people that are being paid to play. Being paid to play and who can excel at the
highest levels without necessarily having an 800lb deadlift. What is the risk of pushing
somebody in that direction? Is it going to get them stronger? Of course. But if there
are other ways to get them stronger and more powerful, maybe you don’t go down that road
because you don’t want to compromise somebody’s career that way. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is, we talked about the context.
The context is, as the speaker, as a professional Strong Man, Robert is looking at this from
a different perspective. He’s looking out for us. He’s looking out for you. He knows
that, for him, the risk to reward ratio is different. For him, the reward was higher.
He could win a competition. He could sacrifice his form a little bit if
it meant getting up another 10lbs or 20lbs on a lift because for him, it could mean the
difference between winning and losing. When you add some competitiveness to this, and
overly the performance of that lift there’s a different drive. There’s a different motivator.
But for him, it led to some other issues. Obviously, breakdown. It’s something he’s doing repetitively and
he’s doing it for a living. At least the breakdown. These are not the same things that we would
have to consider. But it brings me back to this overall point: the deadlift is a great
exercise. The deadlift is a fundamental movement pattern. But the deadlift should be done responsibly. It’s one of those exercises that, because
of the loading parameters here, because we can load it up a lot as we’re pursuing strength
on that lift, we have to understand this one, critical factor. That is that it’s not the
number of the plates on the side of the bar that will ultimately determine your strength. What matters the most is that the true strength
underlying that is built on a foundation of stability. I’ve said this before. I’ve talked
about it as the new way to look at the pyramid of strength. At the base of what we do, most
of what we do, is always going to be founded on strength. But if you ignore that bottom there, underneath
the surface, that ‘iceberg’ effect where stability resides then you’re going to miss out and
you’re likely going to wind up hurting yourself. The true strength is always going to be built
upon a foundation of stability. What are we talking about with stability? It’s not what
you might think I’m talking about. Some of you guys are probably saying “Jeff,
you’re just talking about form. Good form versus bad form.” We never advocate bad form
on a deadlift. That’s not what I’m talking about. In the gross evidence of that, yes,
it is. In other words, if I was going to go grab
the bar, and as soon as I lift the weight that’s somewhat more than I can comfortably
handle, if I lose my scapular tightness to the point where my arms start to protract
out in front of me, dragging my thoracic spine into flexion – which, because the spine
is one unit it starts to drag my lumbar spine into flexion – applying an incredible load
on my lumbar discs; I could pop on just like that. That’s an obvious form breakdown. That’s a
lack of stability. That’s an obvious example of that. That’s not even what I’m talking
about. I’ve talked about the masters of compensation. I’ve talked about the fact that someone could
execute a deadlift here in great form and still lack stability. How would that happen?
Well you could do all the things I’ve said. You could keep the scapula tight, you could
not have your thoracic rounding, you could not have your lumbar spine rounding, but you
could have an unequal distribution of weight between your feet when you perform your lift.
I had an athlete come to me like that, complaining of hip pain. Everything looked perfect on the deadlift
itself, but when we evaluated with force plates you could tell that there’s an unequal weight
distribution between the right and left side. Is that a lack of stability? I think so. That’s
not a stable unit lifting that. You need to have a stable unit from the ground up, equally
distributing the weight as you perform the lift. That’s a solid system. But if you’re talking
about this unequal distribution of weight that doesn’t manifest itself in bad form,
but manifests itself underneath; this is what we need to start to evaluate at a bit more
critical level. This is where we need to appreciate the value of true stability. So, what am I
recommending? I recommend you deadlift. I recommend you learn how to deadlift at an
early age. I’m hoping that exercise tutorials, like the one I have on our channel for the
deadlift – and others as well who have covered the deadlift in great ways, with a great breakdown
– teaches you how to perform the lift in your earlier years, the right way. So, when you’re adding plates, as you should
be trying to, you’re doing it on a strong foundation. Not built off a cracked foundation.
Way too many cracked foundations out there these days, following the advice of the coaches
that know nothing about coaching a lift, that tell you just to get stronger on the lift. That’s a horrible coach and one you should
never listen to. What you need to do is learn how to respect that lift, as well as other
lifts, realizing that sometimes you’ve got to start at the bottom. When you start at
the bottom, you’ve got to build that base. That base is not just the strength, but it’s
the stability beneath that. And when you have that combination and then
you add plates around that you’re going to be able to perform that lift properly. More
importantly, you’re going to be able to perform that lift for life, without the repercussions
that Robert even talked about here. Without the necessary drive to push it to
extremes that he might have to because of the competitive overlay for it and the extra
drive with which he might have to face because of something he did for a living, and the
winning and losing that factored into it as well. I love what he said. I thought it was
a great podcast, by the way. Like I said, I recommend if you haven’t heard
it that you go listen to is because he had some incredible things to say. I think his
perspective on the sport, I think his perspective on, not just that lift, but other things is
something you benefit from hearing. Guys, I hope you’ve found this video helpful. If you’re looking for programs where we try
to do what we do based off that solid foundation, I realize how important it is. I preach it
here because it matters, guys. I’ve seen far too many athletes breakdown because of exactly
what Robert’s talking about. We don’t need to have that happen, and we don’t need to
forego the deadlift at the same time. Guys, if you’re looking for those programs,
they’re all over at In the meantime, if you’ve found the video helpful leave your
comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover and I’ll do
my best to do that for you. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe and turn
on your notifications so you never miss a video when we put one out. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 thoughts on “Deadlifts are KILLING Your Gains (OH SH*T!)

  1. NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY – Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected WITHIN the first hour the video is published. So don't b*tch if you're not one of them 🙂 Just try next time. Click the link to see if you’ve won. Good luck!

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  2. I always thought I came out doing deadlifts somewhat in pain at the hip and hearing you say that I might be distributing weight incorrectly on each foot has me thinking it might be that

  3. Such a controversial topic I would like to weigh in here. For people that don't know who I am, I trained over 30k hourly sessions as a personal trainer. I am a competitive weightlifter and powerlifter so I am well aware of the benefits and risks regarding Power Cleans and Deadlifts. If Robert (strongman) is specifically talking about athletes should not deadlift and instead do power cleans I can understand why he said that because the hang clean and power clean will activate more neural receptors. But I will disagree that there is a greater reward and risk issue than the deadlift. BECAUSE what are the load amounts, repetitions and sets are being compared here? One rep max? 10 reps by 3 sets? Also, what tempo and what are the athlete's goals? 10 Deadlifts reps at 1.5 Bodyweight is probably less risk than 10 power cleans at just bodyweight. See where I am getting here?

  4. I was deadlifting 325… then I went kayaking for 4 hours and my back was killing me afterwards… now I can't deadlift more than 275… lol wtf

  5. So, the title is pure clickbait then? Turns out deadlifts are good, like we all already thought….. yet the title says they are killing our "gainz"? Ok EDIT: Daddy daddy gumdrops… ooo buttery biscuits.

  6. I have to kind of go with this. deadlifts are good when done properly. The problem is ego gets in the way of your gains and folks try to lift 3 times the body weight out of the gate. You see these guys in the gym and all of a sudden they're doing the Cat lift. You know the ones… Crossfitters are awesome at doing those

  7. Cleans and snatches are way more of a technical lift with way more chance to injure yourself compared to a simple deadlift

  8. ''Some say deadlifts are for back day, some say they are for leg day
    but I say they're for another day''

    -Dom Mazzetti

  9. Jeff should do a video about how to increase stability because there is none or I'm dumb and just can't find one..

  10. I think they become dangerous because we like to test our limits all the time. So we tend to force more than we should. I try to discipline myself to keep 1 in the tank, but so often I don't… it's difficult to hold yourself to not try your max, and often that results with some minor pain/stretch/tear that then hurts for a few weeks. Unlike other exercises, when you do force it too much and lose form, it is actually quite dangerous.

  11. If spine is a core and basis, and i have a spinal scoliosis I am doomed forever? Jeff, I need, WE ARE, people with spinal drfects needs ur help!!!

  12. 5 years from now: Guys, going to the gym is killing your gains. The only way to improve your physique and strength is to eat exclusively at the Heart Attack Grill breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  13. Deadlifts are useless for athletes. Period end of story. POWER movements are essential and most of the time deadlifts are done for strength reasons

  14. If you pain when you deadlift, I guess there are many issues you have. However, the main issue is your lower back and hip mobility issues. You need to train to make full range of motion.

  15. The response I wish everybody had to the "controversy". I think the point of what he said is if you can not take the time to learn it properly and respect it as a higher risk exercise, you shouldn't do it. My back and hips are fucked, I have no business doing deadlifts (though I love them) until I can prehab properly and loosen up my hips.

  16. The deadlift should be there to test strength. just TEST! Anyone should be able to do a deadlift with proper form after just one training session.
    The movement is so simple (execution and setup) and fundamental but simultaneously so demanding on the body.
    The deadlift should not be performed with higher volumes. (max 10 hard reps/week)

  17. Jeff, you've helped me so much, I want to give you a tip. I noticed you have developed very deep lines, Crows feet and forehead. This is from squinting and grunting all the time.
    Look at older gym rats. 100% of them have wrecked faces. Gotta care for the face as well as the body!.
    Utilize my "ghost face" system. It's exactly what it sounds like. Pretend you've seen a ghost as u train. NO MORE SCRUNCHING THE FACE.
    "What if I told you that scrunching your face is killing your beauty…."

  18. Does he realize that a power clean involves a deadlift? But I do agree that cleans are better for training…. you develop strength from the deadlift portion AND explosive power.

  19. NOT deadlifting is killing your gains. Deadlifting with your ego is also killing your gains. Do it right, or stop lifting and join the girls walking on the treadmill.

  20. Not every body is the same not every exercise works with everyone it's about safety of form before weight over load

  21. Hey Jeff, I know this is a little bit off topic from this video but I have an important question. Do you think you can make a program designed specifically for physical therapy. I have shoulder problems, tight hips, glutes, I have gotten stress fractures in my shins in the past and I hurt all over. I am only 18 so people always wonder why I am having joint pain all over this young. I have learned several modalities and stretches and recovery exercises including the ones you have on this Youtube Channel to help prevent injuries and recover from them. I am currently on week 11 of A-X 1 and I love the way the exercises are shown in videos. I think it would be amazing if you made a program using the same method with you doing the P.T exercises and showing how to do the modalities and stretches in a certain order. If you cannot make a whole program doing this, can you at least add onto A-X 1 and possibly other programs these type of recovery routines for the off days made specifically to recover from the workouts we did that week.

    "I love what you have done with Athlean X, it has truly changed my life and made it possible for me to release a lot of mental pain and focus on nothing but lifting those weights the right way, 48 seconds per set just like you taught me. Thanks for everything Jeff, you have inspired me to never let go of going to the gym and working my ass off! Lifting hurts but I love it at the same time, it is one of the greatest feelings I have had. I am seeing major gains and my motivation has increased by 10 fold."

    If you see this, maybe you can make a video about making this type of program. If you'd like, you can use what I said above on your Athlean X testimonials.

  22. If you workout and don’t watch Jeff’s videos, you’re completely missing the F out. I wish I had these videos 20 yrs ago when I started lifting or frying my shoulders doing upright row lol never again

  23. The guy talking to Joe rogan also said about there ain't any real vegan lifters/body builders. That's a joke. That "can't grow as a vegan" rhetoric is shit. He's just jealous maybe that others who don't eat animal products can lift as well. The game changers film coming out in September will be epic and turn a lot of people's heads for sure.

  24. Jeff, I always thought you should go on Joe's podcast. Would be awesome! I'm sure he'd take you in a second if you could make time to do it.

  25. Robert and Joe are idiots on veganism, though. Really some of the dumbest opinions on the topic I've ever heard on that podcast.

  26. The deadlift is not a Hypertrophy based exercise, people give it a bad name think it’s supposed to give you gains in muscle

  27. Power clean, hang clean better than dead lifts? Dead lift is like the first 1/2 of a clean …. What am I missing?

  28. It kills me watching people do 1 rep shaking deadlifts. I just look for disc fragments to hit the wall. 😟

  29. I wholeheartedly agree with your assertions here and offer my testimony to the deadlift. When done responsibly and smartly, this exercise can be the key to a strong core. 25 years ago I suffered chronic lower back pain – each morning I woke up with pain so bad I could hardly breathe. I started deadlifting, very light at first (135 for 10 reps), and slowly added weight over time to remain within a 12-15 rep range. Within 6 weeks my back pain disappeared, and I have never suffered with it since. Deadlifts became my core power exercise and I eventually was able to lift 455 for 4 solid reps then finish off with 365 for 10 reps. At 48 years old, I'm not afforded the regularity I would like in my training due to my career, but I still use the deadlift as my core power exercise, and it supercharges my workout which is typically followed up with chest or shoulders and abs. As you mentioned, context is key! I recommend everybody learn how to deadlift properly and incorporate this key core strength exercise into a regular routine.

  30. Ive been working on my deadlifts over the years. Moved all the way up to 560 at my prime, sacrificed form for heavy weight and over time my back started killing me. Started over completely and started my research. Practice after practice I can say it is now my most favorite exercise. A perfectly performed deadlift with that sweet spot weight, that feel is better than sex. I saw this Joe Rogan podcast and giggled.

  31. I’ve been injured 4 times while weight training. Twice by the bench press and twice by dead lifting (lower back). All injuries were due to incorrect form and too much weight. All my fault. I still do both exercises while training, a lot more carefully now.

  32. Id think it would be like any other complex lift… You build up over time… Dont go out there as a beginner and attempt a 400 lb deadlift unless your a cornfed country boy whos genetically blessed… Kind of common sense …. Which is going extinct which provides the need and platform for a vid such as this

  33. I picked up my socks off the floor when coming out of bed this morning, and you want to know how it looked like? A freaking deadlift form. Same when I picked up the grocery bags and the 50 lbs of cat litter the other day. Ego lifting in the gym or anywhere else is the issue, not a fundamental pattern.

  34. I am glad you put emphasis on people getting paid. I think people do not realize how much that plays a difference in what you can or can not do in the gym.

  35. 45lbs plates are the same size for everyone. Yet everyone is of different sizes and proportions. Nothing wrong with customizing the range of motion.

  36. Lol so the strongman decides to substitute a fairly technical exercise for the risk and switches off for a more technical exercise. All right.. I guess

  37. How about a video filled with exercises (body weight or otherwise) with exercises to build a strong af foundation that will help lead to more stable lifts in other areas? Sorry if you've already done one. Thanks for your time!

  38. Jeff you are by far my favorite coach and Industry professional … and this is a brilliant episode. I do feel the OPT Model is the underlying basis of content. The Optimal Performance Training model completely lives on that premise. STABILIZATION is the foundation of all exercise; lifting, cardio, flexibility … and all CPT graduates live in that body of information.

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