Fitness Trainer’s Divisive Deadlift Advice Breaks The Internet

"Usually I don’t comment, but this is just utter bs."

Fitness Trainer’s Divisive Deadlift Advice Breaks The Internet

Anyone who has ever stepped foot in a gym will tell you (or will be told) that the deadlift is one of the true kings of lifting exercises. A total body burner, the deadlift is one that stands to increase your muscular strength, but your bone strength, posterior chain and grip strength. But we’re also told to perform the deadlift in a very specific way, but one man is now challenging that, and it has the internet all fired up.

Yes, the deadlift is one of the outright kings of lifting, but only if you perform it correctly. As with any lifting exercise, the deadlift does pose an injury threat if performed incorrectly, or if performed using too much weight. This isn’t exactly a secret though.

But Dr Joel Seedman, co-founder of Advanced Human Performance – and a man we’ve used as a source of fitness content on numerous occasions here at DMARGE – recently came out and said we should “stop deadlifting from the floor.”

WATCH: Dr Seedman Explains Why We Should Stop Deadlifting From The Floor

Right away, this goes against everything we’ve been told about the deadlift. The clue is in the name, after all, lift a dead weight. A weight can only be dead if it’s lifted from the floor. Instead, Dr Seedman says we should use a technique he has championed his entire career: 90-degree eccentric isometrics.

Eccentric isometrics, as we’ve touched on before, is the scientific way of saying “pause reps,” where one pauses at the top or bottom of a lift, before returning to the starting position. The 90-degree aspect, Dr Seedman has previously explained, “90-degrees maximises muscles activation, strength gains, muscle hypertrophy, joint health & athletic performance, not to mention full-body stability, mobility, symmetry & more.”

Taking to Instagram to explain his potentially controversial deadlift claim, Dr Seedman boldly says, “Unless you’re a competitive powerlifter, deadlifts from the floor (sumo or conventional) offer few physiological benefits but many potential risks.”

“Because of the emphasis on concentric & little if any emphasis on eccentric, deadlifts from the floor do very little for building functional hypertrophy or cross sectional area of the muscle.”

If you consider yourself a proper gym junkie, we imagine your blood is now starting to boil.

He does add in his Instagram post, “Periodically doing a few pulls from floor isn’t a big deal but adding them consistently focusing on frequent progressive overload for most folks is disaster waiting to happen. Do kettlebell or trap bar deadlifts if pulling from floor is the focus.”

So, he’s not necessarily saying you should never lift from the floor, but if you perform deadlifts on a regular basis, you should consider changing your technique to further minimise the risk of injury and to potentially increase the benefits they provide.

While we were initially inclined to wholeheartedly disagree with his claims, we admit we haven’t been studying the fitness industry for the past 20 plus years. The comments section of his post, however, implies many users are now out for Dr Seedman’s blood.

“Usually I don’t comment, but this is just utter bs.”

“Lol, don’t need to pull from the floor every week, but saying 90 degree pulls are better? Source ? Other then yourself.” To this comment, Dr Seedman says there is plenty of published evidence to support his claims, which he says he links to on his website. We’ve had a look through the website (there are a LOT of pages and posts relating to the deadlift) but so far haven’t been able to find the evidence he’s talking about.

He does provide a link to one page of his website way down in the comments, but this page talks about the benefits of a sumo-squat deadlift, which is performed by lifting from the ground, rather than providing evidence that we should stop lifting from the ground entirely. Contradictive, much?

The page on his website does further explain the potential risks of the conventional deadlift, if performed incorrectly, however. So he claims the sumo-squat stance is a much safer alternative. This we can agree with, but it doesn’t necessarily say you shouldn’t lift from the floor. If you perform the deadlift correctly, then lifting from the floor is still absolutely fine.

Other comments in outright disagreement with Dr Seedman include,

“The fact that people still pay for Joel’s services and take him seriously is sad and pathetic.”

“S*** post. Should say don’t lift too heavy with crap form.”

There are a lot of users who support Joel’s claims, saying they’ve tried either the 90-degree technique or have switched out conventional deadlifts for sumo deadlifts or trap bar deadlifts (which Joel says are fine to be lifted from the ground) to great results.

Others speak to the benefit of conventional deadlifts in a real-world setting, suggesting they could be considered a functional movement that helps us lift things off the ground during our daily lives, such as shopping bags or boxes. However, to this point, some other users have jumped to Dr Seedman’s defence, claiming that a deadlift doesn’t effectively mimic lifting something directly from the floor, due to the elevated height of the barbell caused by the plate weights on either end.

Other users are also quick to point out that the exercise being performed in the video example is essentially a Romanian deadlift, and Dr Seedman is pretty much in agreement. Romanian deadlifts, as Coach Mag says, are still a fantastic leg exercise to perform.

“The Romanian deadlift comes with the extra benefit that you can do anywhere, because you don’t need to use very heavy weights for it to be effective,” the publication says.

For us, we’re still going to continue performing conventional deadlifts as part of a structured training program. Performing them from the floor, in a controlled manner, has proven to be beneficial for us.

We understand how to perform them correctly and we also understand to leave our ego out of the equation, and only lift a weight that feels safe. This, we believe, is some of the best advice anyone who goes to the gym should take onboard. Don’t lift more than your body can physically handle. Lifting light weights with the right technique stands to offer just as much benefit as lifting too much, too soon.

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