Deadlifts: Gym Strength vs. REAL World Strength Will a big deadlift help you move heavy furniture?

| October 12, 2014 by Truth Seeker |

How are you supposed to lift and hold that log with weak biceps?

How are you supposed to lift and hold that log with weak biceps?

There are two main movements that help tremendously with everyday lifting – deadlifts and biceps curls.

The deadlift teaches you how to lift things off the ground without damaging your spine whereas the biceps curl builds the necessary arm strength to hold odd objects like boxes. Those two form a cute couple. If you have a strong deadlift and a strong curl, everyday lifting should be a breeze, at least in theory.

Optimized mechanics

Most people don’t know how to lift stuff off the ground properly. Very often individuals with otherwise working brains get hurt while bending over to lift a cat. The deadlift fixes that one way or another.


If you know how to deadlift with good form, you know how to elevate heavy furniture off the ground with good technique too.

When you lift stuff like fridges and washing machines, the goal is to use the legs while keeping the spine in a neutral position. The arms are merely hooks transferring the power generated by the hips and the upper legs, just like a deadlift. In addition, the deadlift teaches you how to breathe properly when exerting force. Proper breathing stabilizes your mid-section and protects your spine.

It’s all good but…

Having the ability to deadlift with good form is certainly helpful in everyday activities, but there’s more to the story. When you deadlift, everything is perfect. You can grab the bar comfortably and pull. Not only that, but the bar is already elevated by 6 inches. Similar comfort is not very common when moving heavy odd objects.

Sometimes you will have to lift heavy stuff at its base. This may hurt your form if you don’t have the required flexibility or strength. Moreover, odd objects require a supreme grip.

Those would be the shortcomings of the deadlift when it comes to real world strength.

Lifting Objects vs. Moving Objects

There’s a big difference between lifting something and moving it. Transportation of odd objects requires strong arms whereas the deadlift does not.

Let’s say that you work at a library and have to transport a serious amount of books. How are you going to do it? Unless you have bags or cases to put the books in, you will have to carry them with your arms in a flexed or semi-flexed position. The same holds true for boxes and other objects that do not allow you to move them with straight arms. This is when strong arm flexors a.k.a. biceps come to safe the day.

Guess, what? The curl is still the king of biceps exercises. Of course, movements like weighted chin-ups will also do the trick, but they don’t mimic the holding position.

Lifting Odd Objects

Many people consider exercising with odd objects the most functional activity in the universe. Sandbags and big stones will teach you how to operate when luxuries such as handles are not present. That’s why sandbag deadlifts could be considered more functional in real life compared to the regular barbell deadlift. The truth is, however, that both work. If you are a strong deadlifter lifting hundreds of pounds, your back will be insanely powerful, and you will find out that your “real world” lifting abilities are on a much higher level in comparison to an average humanoid. The only thing that could limit you is grip strength and lack of practice. This is where the sandbag shines. It does not stress the back with a heavy weight, but the motor pattern and the high grip requirements transfer really well to a career of moving furniture.

lifting-odd-objects-real-world-strength-anvil

image via: pixabay.com

There is no substitute for good decision making.

Whenever you have to lift something heavy always use the way that requires the least strength and is less likely to injure you. Proper decision making is very important for your health and the preservation of the object you are transporting. In brief, if you want to move the fridge, make sure it’s empty and don’t try to curl it.

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