In olympic weightlifting, lifters compete in highly technical lifts to see who can lift the most weight over their heads using two lifts: the clean and jerk, and the snatch.
These lifts are never taught to the general public in their entirety, because the time required to train to use them safely does not yield much benefit that cannot be achieved using other lifts.
Instead of cleaning and jerking or snatching, one can simply power clean, squat, and shoulder press. And so on.
In powerlifting there are at least two lifts that are also difficult to master and practice safely: the squat and the deadlift. Each of these places a lot of strain on the lumbar spine and results in countless unnecessary, debilitating, lifelong injuries in young men trying to get stronger each year.
There are also lifts that produce similar benefit as these two lifts while producing dramatically lower risk to the lower back. For example, the single-legged Romanian deadlift, the Bulgarian split squat, the belt squat, lunge variations, step-ups, sled drags, and farmer’s carries.
Yet, despite countless life-altering injuries from these lifts, year after year, they continue being dogmatically recommended to the general public, often even without coaching or adequate preparation. They are touted as essential to musculoskeletal health, and people who point to their risks are denounced as promoting “misinformation”.
Why recommend lifts that can produce such devastating injuries at all–if other lifts can easily replace them with no loss of benefit?
In this video, Robert Oberst, one of the world’s strongest DEADLIFTERS, points out that most elite athletic training programs do not even use the deadlift, because it is too high-risk for injury, with no additional return:
After seeing this clip from Robert Oberst, I spent some time reading just a few comments on that video. They are revealing. Read them.
Is it time for fitness influencers and professionals to similarly begin “unrecommending” the squat and deadlift for the general population and begin promoting safer alternatives?
I think the answer to that question is a resounding yes, as this and future posts will make clear.