One of the best tests of total body strength, this one works almost every muscle you have and translates well to everyday life because we all pick stuff off the ground at some point. The deadlift isn't dangerous as long as you perform it with good form, and it can actually be beneficial to your lower back (which may be weak from sitting in a chair in front of a computer all day). John can pull over 600 pounds but worked hard to get there. Start with a goal of deadlifting your body weight for a set of five reps. A longer-term goal would be to deadlift double your bodyweight with good form. If you get to a triple-bodyweight deadlift, you may be a gorilla. Please seek genetic testing.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of the bar so that your shins touch it and your feet are roughly shoulder-width apart. Squat down and grab the bar overhand, hands slightly wider than shoulder width and elbows straight. Your lower back should be in its natural arch. Draw your shoulders back, push your chest out, and tense your lats . Take a deep breath and begin standing up. Focus on pushing your heels into the floor and pulling your chest up while squeezing the bar hard (it may help you to think of falling backward as you rise, to fire up your glutes). Keep the bar as close to your legs as possible, even if it scrapes your shins a bit as you come up. As soon as the bar passes your knees, push your hips forward with power (this is called the lockout). You should end up standing tall and straight with the bar in front of your groin . Reverse the motion, making sure to keep your abs braced, and lower the bar to the floor. That's one rep.
The weight you use should be close to your squat poundage. It is manlier to not use lifting straps. Never claim you can deadlift a weight if you were wearing straps when you did it-that's a gym faux pas (so is using the term "faux pas").