Bodybuilding is about molding muscle into a living, breathing artistic sculpture. But before you work on such aesthetic qualities as shape, proportion, and symmetry, you first have to build the mass to sculpt. Achieving this requires multijoint exercises that work the most muscle possible, such as the bench press, overhead press, bentover barbell row, and squat. But one of the most valuable exercises— and perhaps the most underutilized mass-building move out there—is the deadlift. Doing deadlifts involves intense effort of both the upper and lower body; the legs, back, shoulders, traps, and arms are all called into play (though most bodybuilders do this exercise on back day, not with legs). In simple terms, you’re squatting down, grasping a barbell, then standing up with it. But doing this in a way that minimizes injury (most often to the lower back and knees) requires astute knowledge and technique.
As mentioned earlier, deadlifts seem to fit best in a back workout, since the muscles of the upper and lower back are highly targeted, but the legs are just as involved as the back. I recommend doing deadlifts no more than every other back or leg workout, because this exercise taxes the body so much that overuse could interrupt adequate recovery. Schedule deadlifts, squats, and bentover barbell rows in different workouts to keep from overtraining and overstressing the lower back. Finally, drop down to 5–6 reps only when you’re in a strength phase. If building muscle is the goal, you’ll want to stay in a mass-building rep range, which is 8–10 reps per set. - FLEX