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Fitness & Health

10th Jul 2019

One of the world’s strongest men says ‘you shouldn’t do deadlifts’

Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience, strongman Robert Oberst said deadlifts are far from an essential exercise. Here's why

Alex Roberts

In the world of strength training, there exists the ‘big three’

The term ‘big three’ refers to the fundamental exercises in powerlifting – the bench press, squat and deadlift. However, while typically viewed as an essential lift, one top strongman has now said you shouldn’t do deadlifts.

California native Robert Oberst regularly enters World’s Strongest Man each year. He also competed in America’s Strongest Man in 2012, 2013 and 2014, finishing in the top three each time.

A brief glance at Oberst’s records makes for impressive reading. He can bench press 290kg, squat 430kg and overhead press a jaw-dropping 220kg.

His best deadlift comes in at 400kg, but when speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience, Oberst said deadlifts are far from essential.

Robert Oberst is a regular World’s Strongest Man competitor (Photo: Getty Images)

Why you shouldn’t do deadlifts

“I went from football (American) to strongman – and in football we’d never done deadlifts, it was all hang cleans and power cleans.

“By the way, a little tip, if you’re deadlifting to be a better deadlifter – fine. If you’re not doing that for deadlifts’ sake, then don’t f***ing do it. The risk to reward ratio is a joke, for deadlifts.”

Technically, Oberst says deadlifts are only essential if your sport tests them. Strongman and powerlifting both test the deadlift, so athletes in these fields must train this lift regularly.

But for most other people, deadlifts aren’t absolutely necessary.

Oberst continued: “A lot of people aren’t gonna like that I’m saying that. But if you go into any NFL gym, any Division 1 college football gym, in any athletics where people are actually getting paid and it matters what they’re doing, they’re not deadlifting. They’re hang cleaning and power cleaning.”

A surprised Joe Rogan questioned why this is. Oberst said it’s because of the risk-to-reward ratio.

“It’s so hard to be a great deadlifter and to not risk your lower back and to be using your upper back properly. There are so many little chances for you to get hurt.”

View the clip in full:

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