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Most People Shouldn’t Deadlift, Strongman Robert Oberst Tells Joe Rogan

A popular World's Strongest Man competitor is actually advising against deadlifts.

Robert Oberst competes regularly at the World’s Strongest Man competition. He’s been a finalist twice and recently competed at the 2019 competition, although he suffered a torn brachialis on day three lifting Atlas stones.

This week, Oberst took a pause from usual strongman activity and guested on Joe Rogan’s podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience. For context, it’s one of the most popular podcasts on Earth, ranking as the second most downloaded overall in 2018. This episode is over two hours long, but around 43 minutes in, Oberst and Rogan start to talk about deadlifts (coming after a good stretch of Rogan talking about psychedelics, which won’t come as a surprise to regular listeners).

As one of the most successful American strongmen, Oberst is obviously no stranger to deadlifts. His max at one point was 880 pounds and a couple of months ago he was lifting 495 pounds for speed with Brian Shaw.

So it did come as a surprise that he actually said on the podcast that the average person shouldn’t deadlift.

“I went from football to strongman, and in football we never did deadlifts. It was all hang cleans and power cleans, which by the way, quick little tip: if you’re deadlifting to be a better deadlifter fine. If you’re not, (you’re) doing that for deadlift’s sake, don’t f****** do it. The risk to reward ratio is a joke.

“A lot of people are not going to like that I’m saying that. (…) If you go to any NFL gym, any college football gym, 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.”

He went on,

It’s so hard to be a good deadlifter and not risk your low back, and to be using your upper back properly, there’s so many chances for you to get hurt.

Oberst already knew before he said it that his take on deadlifts might not go over that well. It’s an incredibly popular exercise for strength athletes and often named “the king of strength movements.” (Forever competing for that title with the back squat, but we digress.) If you’re interested in perfecting your form, don’t miss our complete guide to nailing the deadlift.

That’s all that was said about deadlifts but the whole podcast is worth a listen for strongman fans, with Oberst going into detail about how he got into the sport and what it was like growing up as a kid without electricity.There’s also a lot of talk about fitness, live comedy, and of course, UFOs.

Featured image from Joe Rogan Experience Podcast YouTube channel.

4 thoughts on “Most People Shouldn’t Deadlift, Strongman Robert Oberst Tells Joe Rogan”

  1. He’s right, of course. It’ll be fun to see Internet know-nothings invent all sorts of silly reasons to not heed his advice and continue on with their bro routines.

  2. Just goes to show that just because you’re a top end competitor in a sport it doesn’t mean that you know what you’re talking about.

  3. He’s entitled to his opinion. But EVERYONE needs to pick stuff up off the ground, so everyone needs to learn how to deadlift properly (and with both wide and conventional stances). Not everyone needs to go to the max, but people should learn how to handle more than their daily lives entail to an extent so that they’re well prepared to pick up regular stuff. I regularly train women in their 50s, 60s and 70s to deadlift. Many of them can do 135-155 pounds (a couple do even more). Their goal is not to compete, but nothing wrong with getting strong (safely)!

  4. Hm. I know deadlifts carry a risk of injury, but I’ve always read that there’s an even greater risk of injury that comes from NOT deadlifting. In my own case, after injuring my back outside of the gym, my physiotherapist recommended that I fix it by deadlifting. And it worked.


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