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The original ‘health-lift’ for a total body workout – lift up something really heavy and then put it down. In the 1800’s it was called the ‘health-lift’ and was thought to provide all the fitness benefits a man or woman needed, in just 10 minutes a day! It was very simple, pile heavy objects on to a machine and then lift it.

A bit of history

health_liftThe Reactionary Lifter was sold by the Health-Lift Company of New York as a muscle exercise and strength-building device, suitable for men and women. A testimonial letter by Holmes appears in this marketing brochure: “My three months’ experience of the Health Lift has been entirely satisfactory. It furnishes a concentrated form of exercise which I have found salutary, agreeable and exhilarating. It calls the blood into the muscles and leaves them ready for further action, so that I have found myself more disposed to take a long walk after four or five lifts than before. I may add that the particular apparatus used at your rooms, ‘The Reactionary Lifter,’ is a most ingenious, convenient, compact and serviceable arrangement, by which the lifter’s own weight is made to do service, and by an easy and simple adjustment of leverage, to furnish a resistance to be overcome, all the way from 20 to 1000 pounds and more.”*

Efficient weight-training

The deadlift is such a great exercise because it requires a lot of muscles (including the lower back) working in unison to perform it correctly. Way back when I was young and had few responsibilities I could afford to spend a lot of time in the gym, but these days I need to get as much work done in as little time as possible, hence my love of the deadlift. Deadlifts work your legs, butt, back, arms, forearms, shoulders, traps, and abs. Not only is it a great value for money exercise in terms of muscle recruitment, it’s also a fundamental movement in every day life. Picking your kids up off the floor, moving furniture, putting out the garbage are all the same movement as the deadlift.

Correct Deadlift technique

Some people are afraid of compromising their lower back and so shy away from deadlifting, but performed correctly deadlifts should actually strengthen the area and help prevent lower back pain. Here are my tips for good deadlifting (these are just my own and I think that they work – you might find another trainer whose terminology resonates better with you).

1) Grasp the bar above your shoe-laces, keep your shoulders back and down and maintain a straight spine

2) Breathe in, pull your belly-button toward your spine to stabilize the torso

3) Push-down into your heels and think about driving the floor away

4) Keep your eyes up – pick a point to look at and stay focused

5) Initiate the movement by squeezing the glutes hard and, as I like to phrase it, (I’m sorry I wish I had a nicer way of saying it) – tits out arse out – and lift.

Want to start deadlifting? You can meet with one of the Hiscoes trainers to get them to correct your technique or join Mac and the Group Training gang on Saturdays about 9.30 am for some heavy lifting.

*Health-Lift Co., New York, “The health-lift reduced to a science,” Center for the History of Medicine: OnView, accessed June 11, 2015,