Deadlifts are a weightlifting exercise involving the use of a loaded barbell or bar that is lifted off the ground to the height of the hip. The movement works the posterior chain of the body, including several muscle groups such as the back and hip extensors, making it a perfect exercise for building muscle growth and total-body strength.
Although it is more known to be an exercise for powerlifters, deadlifts are also perfect for gym-goers who simply want to develop strength and power necessary to perform other exercises safely and effectively.
Benefits of Deadlifts
Conventional deadlifts are one of the most popular exercises out there and for good reason. Intimidating as they may look, they provide a vast number of benefits and are ideal for all levels and types of gym-goers. If you are looking to take your muscle gain and strength to the next level, deadlifts are certainly a must-do for you.
It helps develop a strong back and improve posture.
A strong back and good posture not only provide aesthetic benefits but also relieve back pain, reduce chances of injuries and improve function in other areas of the body. Deadlifts engage muscles throughout your back to develop strength, but make sure that you maintain a straight low back and proper form throughout the movement to get the best out of this exercise.
Burns more calories and body fats compared to other exercise movements.
Deadlifts are perhaps the most effective compound lift for burning calories and body fats. The movement requires the use of several muscle groups allowing your body to burn a greater number of calories.
However, as effective as it may be, keep in mind that the number of calories you burn will also depend on several factors such as the number of reps you do and how much weight you are lifting.
Develops Total-body Strength
Deadlifts are a great weight-bearing exercise that strengthens more than just the back area. As the movement involves several muscle groups in the body, this can help develop total-body strength, along with proper hip function.
For beginners, it is recommended that you start with a low weight and gradually increase it over time until you reach your target weight range. For those who are already familiar with this exercise, adding repetitions or weights may be appropriate from time to time.
Enhances your Endurance
Although strength is the first thing that comes to mind with deadlifting, it also effectively improves your cardiovascular endurance as you increase the number of reps and sets that you do while you decrease the amount of rest that you take in between sets. This prepares you for other exercises that require a great amount of endurance.
Do Deadlifts Work the Lower Back?
Having a strong lower back is essential as it helps us carry out a lot of our daily tasks such as moving furniture, lifting a heavy bag to school, or even sitting all day at your work desk.
Deadlifts, when performed correctly, are one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your lower back muscles and preventing back injuries. The erector spinae is one of the primary muscle groups that deadlifts target. It primarily acts as an extensor and is responsible for stabilizing the spine.
The Erector spinae tightens just as much when lifting with glutes so deadlifting works all of these muscles together in order to get the job done correctly and safely.
Because of its range of motion, deadlifting also works great in targeting the lats. The lats are the biggest muscle on our back that function to provide back stability, shoulder strength, and mobility, which makes it beneficial for your back health overall.
This group of muscles plays an important role in maintaining a neutral position of the upper back and keeping the bar close throughout the exercise.
Just like with any type of workout, always use caution when performing deadlifts and observe proper form and techniques. Listen to your body and stop when experiencing pain. Make sure also to consult your physician before deadlifting or starting any type of lifting exercise.
Other Muscles Worked with Deadlifts
As mentioned earlier, the deadlift is known for building total-body strength as it works more than just the back - it involves other muscles in the body as well. Find out below what other muscles deadlifts work and how adding this exercise to your routine will help you build muscles throughout your body.
The core is not usually considered a major upper body muscle as it is normally worked only when you are performing workouts for other parts of your body, and therefore isn't worked in isolation like any other muscle group. Deadlifts are one of those workouts that, although designed to target your back and legs, also work out your core as you will naturally tighten your core muscles when lifting with your legs to increase stability.
Deadlifts work the majority of muscles in your lower body, particularly the quads, hamstrings and gluteus.
The quads are made of four large muscles on the front of your leg (hence the name), they work together to extend the knee, helping you to stand up.
The hamstrings do the opposite, they are a group of three muscles on the back of the leg that are used to flex the knee, helping you to lower your body. The deeper you squat, the more hamstring contractions you will produce.
The glutes are the largest muscle in the body and are used to form your butt, they play a major role in stabilization and aren’t just for looks.
The deadlift uses the glutes and the hamstrings of your legs to lift the bar. When lifting the bar, the glutes need to tighten to stabilize your body and help you maintain form.
When you are lifting the weight, the quadriceps are doing most of the work as they are used to extend your knees. When lowering the weight slowly you are also working your hamstrings as they are used to flex the knee.
How To Do Deadlifts Correctly
Due to the heavy weight you are able to lift while deadlifting, it can lead to serious injury if done incorrectly. We recommend practicing the deadlift form with no weight attached to your barbell before adding extra weight, as it is more important to get your form absolutely right before adding weight.
- Stand with your feet hip-wide apart over a barbell, your feet should stay stationary and firmly planted on the ground throughout the entire deadlift move.
- Keep your spine neutral throughout the deadlift. Rounding your back can cause unwanted injuries so make sure that you maintain a straight back.
- Push your butt backward and bend your knees to pick up the barbell in front of you. Your hands should grip the bar at around shoulder width. This is the starting position.
- Bring the bar upwards by bringing your butt forward and straightening your knees. In doing this, drive your feet into the ground and squeeze your glutes to extend your hips. Lift until your legs have fully straightened and you are standing up.
- In a controlled manner, lower the barbell back to the starting position. Repeat until you have reached the desired number of repetitions.
Other Exercises for the Lower Back
Performing deadlifts alone are not enough to fully train the muscles that you want to develop so make sure to mix up your routine and incorporate other exercises as well. Lower back exercises are extremely beneficial for overall spinal health and function. Here are more exercises that you can include in your workout for building a stronger lower back.
Bridges are another great way to strengthen your back muscles - they work both the upper and lower parts of your spine at the same time. Unlike deadlifts, bridges are a bodyweight exercise and can be performed without the use of a barbell.
Hyperextensions are an incredibly useful exercise that can help improve back health. Not only do they provide a dynamic stretch, but also act as preventive measures against lower back injury. Many people notice that their squats and deadlifts improve greatly when they perform hyperextensions. So if you're looking for an effective way to keep your back healthy and strong, make sure to incorporate hyperextension exercises into your back routine.
Lying Superman Raises
Lying Superman Raises are a fantastic lower back exercise that also targets the gluteus, hamstrings, and spinal erectors. This is a must for anyone looking to improve their lower back health. As with all exercises, be careful not to do too much at once or you might injure your back. Start off with 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions each before gradually increasing the number over time.
Bird dogs are a great way to work the lower back, glutes, and lower abs. You can do them at home using just your own body weight and something to support the knees, like an exercise mat or knee pads.