Deadlifts are one of the most popular workouts among bodybuilders and weightlifters, and there is good reason for the deadlift's popularity too.
The deadlift is fantastic for training more than one muscle group at a time, allowing you to train muscles across your body with just one workout.
Deadlifts train multiple muscles across your back and your legs as well as work the core of the body. Due to this, it may be difficult to know exactly where you should feel the brunt of the deadlift, and where your body should be sore after you train deadlifts.
Each variation of the deadlift will change the traditional deadlift ever so slightly so that another muscle is worked harder than the rest, or an additional muscle is added to the deadlift routine.
It seems quite tricky to know exactly what muscles are working throughout a deadlift. This article will go through the different muscles worked during a traditional deadlift and how you would perform a traditional deadlift, as to not get your muscles confused with its variants.
How Do You Perform A Traditional Deadlift?
It is crucial to know how to perform a deadlift correctly if you are planning on doing one. Due to the heavyweight you are able to lift while deadlifting, it can lead to serious injury if done incorrectly.
Therefore, we always 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.
It is also proven that form does more for muscle growth than the addition of weight, so you will be benefiting yourself just by learning how to perform a deadlift correctly.
When performing a traditional deadlift, 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.
You must also keep your back straight and your spine neutral throughout the deadlift, so don’t be persuaded to look up and forward to the mirror in front of you as this could cause spinal issues.
Once you are in this starting position, 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.
Once you have positioned yourself to lift the bar, 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.
After you have lifted the barbell, slowly lower the barbell by pushing your butt backward and bending your knees slightly. Place the barbell carefully at your feet, making sure not to injure yourself or others in the process.
When you are deadlifting with a heavier weight, make sure you are on the correct surface with no one in your immediate vicinity so there is less damage if you have to drop it.
What Muscles Do Deadlifts Work?
Now that you know how to properly perform a traditional deadlift, you need to know what exactly this is doing to your body, where you should feel deadlifts, and where you should be sore after you have finished deadlifting.
As mentioned before, one of the favored things about deadlifts is their versatility in the muscle groups that they work.
They mainly focus on certain muscles in the back and the legs but also do a great job in working your core. Here is a rundown on the muscles that are used during a deadlift from these muscle groups.
Legs are known as the biggest muscle group in the body, as they take up the entire lower half of your body. The legs are split up into two groups of muscle. The upper portion of your legs and the lower portion of your legs.
The upper portion of your legs is made out of three major muscles, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Whereas the lower portion of your legs is made out of two major muscles that make up your calves called the gastrocnemius and the soleus. When deadlifting, you are only using the upper portion of your legs.
The quadriceps are the muscles that are found on the front of your thigh, they are made up of four muscles as the name suggests, and work when extending the knee. These are the muscles that help you stand up.
On the opposite side of your legs lie the hamstrings, these are a smaller group of three muscles that aid you in flexing the knee, helping you to sit down and lower your body.
The glutes are the muscle that makes up your butt and is the biggest muscle in the body, they are a crucial muscle when it comes to balance and stability.
When deadlifting, the main muscles used to pick up the bar are the quadriceps and the glutes. The quadriceps help you extend your knee and lift your body with the weight while your glutes stabilize your body and keep your form.
When you slowly lower the weight back to the ground, your hamstrings are also worked while flexing your knee.
The back is made up of four major muscles that are all worked when performing a deadlift. The latissimus dorsi (lats), the rhomboids, the trapezius (traps), and the erector spinae.
The lats are the biggest muscle on your back and connect your spine to your upper arm in a wing-like shape, the rhomboids sit on top of the lats and attach your spine to your shoulder blades.
Both of these muscles are used during a deadlift but not to the extent of the other two. These muscles are mostly used when stabilizing your body and tightening to make sure your back stays straight.
The traps and the erector spinae are where you will feel sore after performing a deadlift. The erector spinae is the muscle in your lower back that runs parallel to the spine.
When you are performing a deadlift, the erector spinae tightens just as much as the glutes to lift your back into an upright position.
It is often reported that bodybuilders will have lower back problems when doing too many deadlifts. The traps sit at the other end of your back right at the top and are worked because they connect your spine to your shoulder blades.
When you are lifting the weight of the barbell, your arms are straight and the barbell hands from your shoulders, as you are not technically lifting the barbell, the traps will just hold the barbell as you straighten your back, meaning they will have to tighten to stabilize the weight.
The core is not normally recognized as a major muscle group, this is because the muscles in the core are normally worked when you are performing workouts for other parts of your body (such as the deadlift) and therefore aren't worked in isolation like any other muscle group.
As you are straightening your back and lifting the barbell, the abdominal muscles in the core will have to tighten along with the muscles in your back to stabilize the top half of your body evenly, so you may feel the deadlift in your core as well.
Where Will I Be Sore After Deadlifts?
If you are performing a traditional deadlift correctly, then you will usually feel it in your back, legs, and sometimes your core.
The muscles that work the most when you are performing a deadlift are usually the quadriceps, glutes, erector spinae, and the traps, and you may feel sore in these areas the next day.
Deadlifts are an intense workout and shouldn’t be performed more than twice a week. If you feel pain in any of these areas after deadlifting, consult your doctor.