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  1. #1
    Registered User PiscesNinja's Avatar
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    Red face Are deadlifts worth the CNS drain?

    I'm training for size and strength with emphasis on size.

    I've heard deadlifts are one of the best mass and strength builders because they use so many muscles at once with such a heavy weight.

    But I've also heard from reputable sources such as Bill Starr that they're the hardest exercise to recover from because they fatigue the lower back. Are deadlifts worth doing regularly for non-powerlifters or would it be better to focus on more squats and maybe adding good mornings to address the muscles not being emphasised in the squat, like lower back and hamstrings?
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    Registered User sowilson's Avatar
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    There's a reason why athletes in many sports do them or variations (trap bar). Frying your CNS once and awhile isn't a bad thing.
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    If you do them correctly and in a sub-maximal rep range, there really is not CNS drain.
    Deadlift: 475 lbs
    Squat: 320 lbs
    Bench press: 295 lbs
    Clean: 245 lbs

    Moja serca jest w polsce
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    I'll Mod 'til I'm dead. ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PiscesNinja View Post
    I'm training for size and strength with emphasis on size.

    I've heard deadlifts are one of the best mass and strength builders because they use so many muscles at once with such a heavy weight.

    But I've also heard from reputable sources such as Bill Starr that they're the hardest exercise to recover from because they fatigue the lower back. Are deadlifts worth doing regularly for non-powerlifters or would it be better to focus on more squats and maybe adding good mornings to address the muscles not being emphasised in the squat, like lower back and hamstrings?
    Starr was correct concerning Deadlifts (as he was in all things training-related). He was also correct in how he controlled the volume/frequency/intensity of that lift as well as that of all other lifts and how he integrated all of them into his various programs. You'd do well to simply follow his directive.
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  5. #5
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Just on a pedantic note, it's nothing to do with your CNS, fatigue is a local process - deadlifts heavily affect your lower back and hamstrings - more so that most other lifts.

    https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/cns-fatigue/
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    Registered User Batarang's Avatar
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    Imo if you're purely looking for bodybuilding, then stick to the Romanian Deadlift variation. They're likely superior from a hypertrophy standpoint (for posterior chain, not overall) and easier to program

    Good alternatives are the good morning and accessory lifts include hip extensions (I don't like calling them back extensions much), glute pull throughs, and hamstring curls (these target the short head of the biceps femoris which only crosses the knee) and also place more tension on the hamstring fibers closer to the knee than to the hip

    I go more in depth in the article on my site (link in bio) titled Deadlifts: The most overrated exercise in bodybuilding?
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  7. #7
    Team No Calves Luca2's Avatar
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    ^ Agreed. If you have a trap bar available, trap bar DLs are also much easier to recover from (and can mimic a straight bar DL to a greater or lesser extent based on whether your setup is quad- or hip-dominant).
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    Yes
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    Registered User AnalogR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Batarang View Post
    Imo if you're purely looking for bodybuilding, then stick to the Romanian Deadlift variation. They're likely superior from a hypertrophy standpoint (for posterior chain, not overall) and easier to program

    Good alternatives are the good morning and accessory lifts include hip extensions (I don't like calling them back extensions much), glute pull throughs, and hamstring curls (these target the short head of the biceps femoris which only crosses the knee) and also place more tension on the hamstring fibers closer to the knee than to the hip

    I go more in depth in the article on my site (link in bio) titled Deadlifts: The most overrated exercise in bodybuilding?
    Thanks, good info. I just recently rediscovered the leg curl, as I heard it wasn't good to use, do to being a machine exercise. I find deadlifting to be much easier and just "feels" better, after a couple months of doing leg curls to exhaustion (in an increasing then decreasing load fashion) once or twice per week.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Batarang's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AnalogR View Post
    Thanks, good info. I just recently rediscovered the leg curl, as I heard it wasn't good to use, do to being a machine exercise. I find deadlifting to be much easier and just "feels" better, after a couple months of doing leg curls to exhaustion (in an increasing then decreasing load fashion) once or twice per week.
    no prob. yeah what kind of leg curls were they? for leg curls I typically advise to go for the seated variation and a bit higher rep (10+) because they can tend to irritate some people

    also, keep the toes pointed like a calf raise on leg curls. it'll take the gastrocnemius more out of the lift and let the hamstrings get more of the work
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  11. #11
    Registered User Garage Rat's Avatar
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    Basically the deadlift effects the whole body thats why the CNS stimulation.
    Yes as mentioned controlling volume and weight used can make them more manageable.
    Most strength programs won't have you going to heavy to often.
    IMO you shouldn't be shooting for one rep maxes but five or more if you want size to be part of your goal for really any main multi joint exercises your doing.
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  12. #12
    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Altheon View Post
    deadlifts activate pretty much al muscles in your body, but to what extent?


    Escamilla 2001 Electromyography deadlift study

    Electromyography:

    -25% to 45% activation on different parts of the quadriceps

    -35% on the hamstring and calves

    -35% to 38% on the glutes

    -40% to 41% on the trapezius

    -60% on the obliques and abdomen(only when pushing against a belt)

    So apparently deadlifts are not the mass builders people think they are, they get you some abs gains at best...
    it's a stretch to say that because a muscle has less EMG activity it is inferior for muscle growth and hypertrophy
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  13. #13
    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    You do need to be careful with programming the volume & intensity of such a large exercise in your routine, but this applies equally to squats or anything else with high loading. As to lower back fatigue, I find that it is strongly related to your grip, mixed grip tends to really hammer it and you may want to consider using it sparingly as a result.
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    Above average Junsuiakai's Avatar
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    Just my two cents,

    Good mornings and reverse hypers are amazing for strengthen your lower back.
    FS/ S/ OHP/ B/ DL
    120/150/70/100/180 =KG

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  15. #15
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've read some pretty mixed things about measurements using EMG. Just anecdotally, people lift the largest amount of weight out of all the exercises they do with the deadlift. To perform that kind of work must require the activation of a lot of muscle tissue.
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    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Yeah, I've read some pretty mixed things about measurements using EMG. Just anecdotally, people lift the largest amount of weight out of all the exercises they do with the deadlift. To perform that kind of work must require the activation of a lot of muscle tissue.
    https://www.strongerbyscience.com/em...e-hypertrophy/

    greg nuckols has a good article on this

    important cliffs:

    Despite acute differences in EMG amplitude, numerous studies have demonstrated comparable muscle growth between high and low-intensity training, in trained and untrained individuals, considering both whole muscle and fiber-type specific growth. Data on our primary outcome trumps indirect physiological arguments every day of the week.

    "There is no evidence that the simultaneous activation of a large number of motor units is superior for hypertrophy as compared to a more time-intensive, gradual recruitment strategy. When designing a hypertrophy training program there is no need to pick specific program parameter combinations (intensity, tempo, etc…) outside of exercise selection to maximize surface EMG amplitude."


    in other words, EMG studies don't tell you jack chit about hypertrophy and are not a suitable measure for it either.
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