What Muscles Do the Deadlift Work?

May 03, 2024 5 min read

What Muscles Do the Deadlift Work?

What Muscles does the Deadlift Work

Deadlifting is a popular strength training exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core. It is a compound movement that involves lifting a barbell from the ground to a standing position.

  • Core: The main muscles responsible for stabilizing the spine during weightlifting are located in the abdomen and lower back. Acting in conjunction, these core muscles provide essential support for proper form and preventing injury.
  • Glutes:The glutes, or large muscles in the buttocks, are crucial for hip extension while performing a deadlift. To ensure proper form, it is important to activate and engage these muscles during the exercise.
  • Hamstrings:The muscles located on the back of the thigh are responsible for extending the hip and flexing the knee..
  • Hip: The hip joint's muscles and ligaments play a crucial role in both flexing and extending the hip, as they work together to provide stability and movement.
  • Lats: The spine's stability during a lift is maintained by the coordinated work of the upper and lower back muscles. Located on both sides of the spine, the latissimus dorsi (lats) are large, triangular muscles that play a crucial role.
  • Trapezius: The trapezius muscle is a sizable, triangular muscle that spans from the base of the skull to the middle of the back. Its primary function is to stabilize and facilitate movement of the shoulder blades.

What are the Benefits of Deadlifting?

Deadlifting is an effective exercise for building overall strength and power. It can help improve posture, increase muscle mass, and enhance athletic performance. Research has shown that deadlifting can also strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

How to Deadlift Safely

  1. The setup: To properly perform the exercise, start with a hip-width stance. Engage your core muscles and pull your shoulder blades together and down to activate the lats. If using a barbell, make sure it is touching your shins on the floor. Maintain a straight spine and lifted chest as you hinge at the hips. Grip the barbell with one hand facing palm-up and the other palm-down in an over-under grip. Squeeze the bar and sink back into your hips
  2. The pull: Shift the weight of the body downwards by engaging the feet and straightening the legs, while simultaneously lifting the chest upwards. Continue this movement by pushing the hips forward and pulling the knees backwards.
  3. The lockout: When performing the exercise, make sure to keep your shoulders back and maintain a straight spine. Take a moment to pause at the top of the movement before slowly lowering the barbell by engaging your hip, thigh, and core muscles.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake when deadlifting is rounding the back, which can lead to strain or injury. It is also important to avoid jerking the weight up or using momentum to lift the barbell. Focus on controlled movements and proper technique.

Variations of the deadlift:-

They that can be incorporated into your workout routine to add variety and challenge. Let's explore some of the most common variations:

Conventional Deadlift

The conventional deadlift is the most well-known variation, where the lifter stands with their feet hip-width apart and hands gripping the barbell just outside the legs. This variation primarily targets the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and forearms.

Sumo Deadlift

In the sumo deadlift, the lifter takes a wider stance with their feet positioned outside the hands gripping the barbell. This variation places more emphasis on the quadriceps and inner thighs, making it a great option for individuals with longer limbs or limited hip mobility.

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift involves keeping the legs straight with a slight bend in the knees while hinging at the hips to lower the barbell towards the floor. This variation targets the hamstrings and glutes more intensely than the conventional deadlift.

Trap Bar Deadlift

Using a trap bar (hex bar) for deadlifts allows for a more upright torso position, reducing stress on the lower back. This variation is beneficial for individuals with back issues or those looking to minimize lower back strain while still targeting the legs and glutes effectively.

Deficit Deadlift

In a deficit deadlift, the lifter stands on a raised platform, increasing the range of motion and placing greater emphasis on the hamstrings and lower back. This variation is excellent for building strength off the floor and improving overall deadlift performance.

Basic Gym Equipment for a Deadlift

 When it comes to performing a deadlift, having the right gym equipment is crucial to ensure proper form and prevent injury. Let's explore the essential gym equipment needed for a successful deadlift.

1. Barbell

The Olympic Bar /  barbell is the primary piece of equipment for a deadlift. It should be straight, sturdy, and have a good grip to allow for a smooth lift. The standard weight of a barbell is 45 pounds (20 kg) for men and 35 pounds (15 kg) for women.

2. Weight Plates

Weight plates are necessary to add resistance to the barbell. Make sure to use the appropriate weight for your fitness level. Beginners typically start with lighter weights and gradually increase as they progress. You can choose either Olympic Plates or Bumper Plates, starting at 1.25Kg up to 25kg each plate.

3. Lifting Straps

Lifting straps can help improve grip strength and prevent the barbell from slipping out of your hands during a heavy lift. They are especially useful for individuals with sweaty palms or weaker grip strength.

4. Lifting Belt

A lifting belt provides support to the lower back and core during a deadlift. It helps maintain proper form and reduces the risk of injury by stabilizing the spine under heavy loads. Make sure to choose a belt that fits snugly around your waist.


Jordan drop pads ideal for deadlifts


5. Deadlift Platform or Drop Pads

Potentially a deadlift platform, as shown in the main image or these Jordan Drop Pads above, provides a stable and level surface for performing deadlifts. It helps protect the floor from damage and absorbs some of the impact from dropping the weights. A platform also provides a designated area for deadlifting, ensuring safety and organisation in the gym or to your home set up.


How Often Should You Deadlift?

The frequency of deadlifting depends on individual fitness goals and experience level. Beginners may start with one to two sessions per week, while more advanced lifters may incorporate deadlifts into their routine more frequently. It is important to allow for proper rest and recovery between sessions.

Overall, deadlifting is a valuable exercise for building strength, improving muscle mass, and enhancing overall fitness. By following proper form and technique, individuals can safely incorporate deadlifts into their workout routine to achieve their fitness goals.


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