Workout of the Day

When Deadlifting Your Car Keys Becomes Dangerous


As someone who can’t help but pay attention to how people move, regardless of whether I’m in the gym and “on the clock” or not, I find it equal parts comical and painful to see a student bend over to pick up their gym bag, or a plate, or the car keys they dropped with a rounded back and locked out knees (and it’s particularly ironic when this happens after finishing a class in which our lesson plan focused on maintaining a neutral spine when picking something up off the floor as in a deadlift, for example). This same student, if asked about the points of performance of a deadlift would, I’m sure, mention a neutral spine, braced core, and so on.

And yet.

Of course, the dangers of picking up your car keys or your gym bag with a rounded back are minimal, whereas attempting a maximal effort deadlift with a rounded back has a higher chance of leading to injury. That being said, I have watched one student, after deadlifting over 400lbs with a neutral spine and overall good execution, tweak his back as he sloppily unloaded a plate from his bar with a rounded back. Thankfully the injury wasn’t serious, and he immediately realized the absurdity of what he had done and was able to laugh at it and learn from it.

I don’t have any statistics to back it up, but I would put my money on more people ending up injured from these silly, low-stakes activities of daily life than from all of their higher intensity efforts done in the gym.

We teach what we teach not because there is some intrinsic value in being able to lift a barbell of a particular weight from the floor with a particular body shape, but because these positions and movement patterns are fundamentally human. They are a part of how our anatomy dictates we move most effectively and efficiently, and they are a part of human life. Outside of the gym, you may never run across a 400lbs that needs to be lifted, or you might. But let’s not forget that our duties to move well don’t suddenly disappear when class time is over or the stakes seem lower.

- PS


  • 300m sandbag carry (AHAP)


  • 3 rounds:

  • In 3 mins:

    • 20 sandbag front squats (AHAP)

    • AMRAP DUs

  • Rest 2 mins