A few months ago I moved into a (rented) house in a small village, in a desperate attempt to get away from all that vibrant diversity big Western cities are awash with. For the most part, this has worked out well. One of my favorite aspects of this house, which is pretty basic overall, is that it has a proper basement that is big enough for a home gym. I got some equipment already but I am still missing a half cage, an olympic longbar and bumper plates. The latter are, in my opinion, a must for deadlifting, which brings me to the topic of this article.
The deadlift is, by far, my favorite exercise. My workout plan is quite simple, focusing on the standard compound lifts, i.e. bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, and row. In my view, the deadlift reigns supreme, though. Any other lift you can kind of half-ass and make it through with improper form, and with the risk of injury, of course. The starting position of the four other lifts mentioned above entails that the bar is elevated, which gives you more room to work with. Not so with the deadlift. The bar just sits there on the floor if you are not strong enough yet. You will not get it off the ground if you are almost there. In a way, the bar taunts you. In contrast, with the bench press or the squat, the weight of the loaded bar works in your favor in the first part of the exercise.
There is also an enormous payoff. The first time I managed to deadlift 120 kg, with a body weight of about 80 kg, i.e. 1.5x my body weight, I was ecstatic. You wrestle with the bar, at first possibly not even believing that you can do it, but then you really get it off the ground, first just by a few millimeters, but then you raise the bar, slowly but surely, and you feel as if you are growing larger and stronger as you do it. This is probably the closest you can get to a Super Saiyan transformation in real life — and you will wear the callouses on your hands with pride!
One repetition of a deadlift that is at our just below the edge of your ability makes you feel as if you have overcome a serious challenge, and this is because you have. The deadlift also takes a lot out of you, which is why you normally do 5 x 1, with breaks in between. In contrast a set of five repetitions of a bench press or a squat feels almost pedestrian. Sure, you may get to your limit in the later repetitions, but because success is defined as completing a set of 5 it feels a lot less significant than getting the loaded longbar off the ground in a deadlift.
According to gym bro science, the squat increases your testosterone level. I am not sure this is true, but based on my experience, a good deadlift makes me feels as if my dick just got one inch thicker. Squats are not bad either, but if I had to pick only one lift, it would be the deadlift. If you want to feel like a man, go load that olympic longbar and try getting it off the ground!