The deadlift should be a staple of most guys’ workouts. It builds raw strength throughout your body, enhancing your ability to be explosive in sports and packing muscle on everything from your neck to your toes. But perhaps the best reason to master this move is that the deadlift keeps you honest. “Of the three lifts used in powerlifting competition, the deadlift is the one that tells me if a lifter is legit,” says Joe Stankowski, C.P.T., a trainer and former powerlifter who’s dead- lifted 700 pounds. “Equipment, like specialized shirts and suits, can help you bench and squat more weight, but that stuff won’t help on a deadlift—it’s probably the only move that you have to rely on your strength and technique alone to complete.” According to Stankowski, this is how it’s done:

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 [A].

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 fi re 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 [B]. Slowly reverse the motion, making sure to keep your abs braced, and lower the bar to the floor. That’s one rep.