The deadlift, along with the squat, is one of the most beneficial weightlifting exercises for building overall strength and muscle mass. It works nearly every muscle in the body from your traps to your toes. Besides a thicker, more muscular physique, it also develops a vise-like grip.
To perform the deadlift, load the bar with a challenging weight that will allow at least 15-20 reps before you poop out. Wear sturdy shoes like hiking boots or steel-toed work boots. (Tennis shoes and running shoes/cross trainers don't provide the necessary stability.)
Feet should be placed at shoulder width with the bar 2-3 inches from the shins. Bend at the knees and grasp the bar a little wider than shoulder width (shins should touch the bar at this point). Both palms should face you, although it may be useful to have one palm face out (knuckles toward you) and the other face in (knuckles face out).
Ideally, your butt should be lower than your shoulders. Back must remain flat. Keep your head up and look straight ahead.
Push through your heels, incorporating your legs and hips while simultaneously pulling with your back and arms. Concentrate on one controlled, fluid movement. Continue until you are standing upright. Maintaining complete control, reverse the movement completely to bring the bar to the floor. Do not just bend at the waist if you value your back. Perfect form is vital.
Once you are back in the starting position, do a body scan, reset yourself and do it again. Treat each repetition as if you will perform it only once and it has to be flawless. Repeat until you can no longer move the bar from the floor.
Along with the squat and the bench press, the deadlift is one of three events in powerlifting competitions. Often, a lifter will find he or she can move significantly more weight in the deadlift than the other two.
This fact alone can make the deadlift quite satisfying and addicting, although it should be done no more than twice a week. If the squat is also being used in a workout, alternate between the two.
Make friends with the deadlift. Make friends with your body. You will be richly rewarded.