Benefits Of Deadlifts

by James Kerrison on April 18, 2012

Hey there, today I’ve got a guest post from Jason Paris who is a strength and conditioning coach in Atlanta.

In addition to training people Jason runs Fitness Doctrine, a website that cuts through the hype to bring you the best information from the leading experts in the fitness world, to help people lose weight and build muscle to transform their body.

The Benefits of Deadlifting and Why It Belongs in Everyone’s Training Program

I bet there is at least one item that you simply can’t do without. And you wonder how people ever lived without it. Kind of like the microwave. What did people do before there were microwaves? I know they made it through those tough times, but how? I can’t go a day without it.

The deadlift is kind of like that. Once you start using this exercise and seeing the results, you will be wondering what kind of program doesn’t include deadlifts?

Why Include The Deadlift In Your Program?

The deadlift is without a doubt, one of the best exercises. Practically every muscle from your big toe to the top of your head gets used.

In just one exercise, you can get a full body workout. That makes the deadlift perfect for those of you on the go. I’m sure you are just as busy as me. There are days when it seems like you can’t fit a workout in. You just don’t have the time.

Because the deadlift involves so many muscle groups, all it takes to get an effective full body workout, is a few sets. If you have 20 minutes you have time to workout. No need to miss a workout. So, if you’re short on time and can only do one exercise, make it the deadlift.

Not only is it going to build strength, but it will turn you into a fat burning machine. Using all those muscle groups in one lift thrusts your metabolism into high gear. You’ll be burning fat faster than ever.

If you don’t mind a few adoring stares, you may want to think about adding the deadlift into your program. We can’t ignore how good it makes you look. The deadlift does a great job at hitting the posterior chain. It can lift and tone that backside of yours better than anything else.

Who Is The Deadlift Good For?

Just like the microwave, everyone needs to have deadlifts in their lives. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to build muscle, burn fat, or get that sexy backside. The deadlift is the perfect tool.

Because it’s functional, the deadlift carries over to day-to-day living, making it a great choice for the elderly looking to maintain their independence.

If you are looking to build more muscle, the deadlift is a great tool because it allows you to use lots of weight. This activates more motor units to help stimulate growth.

For those looking to trim down and burn belly fat, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better exercise than the deadlift.

Basically, the deadlift is great for everyone.

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Deadlifting Anatomy – Muscles Worked

What makes the deadlift so great is the all the muscles necessary to make the lift a success. Compound lifts use multiple muscles, but no other lift works as many muscle groups to the same extent as the deadlift.

Gripping the bar is a workout in of itself. The muscles of your finger flexors and the forearms will most likely be the first muscle group to fatigue. Grip strength may be the limiting factor in your progression.

You may be surprised to know that holding the bar works more than just your grip. It’s also a great exercise for your shoulder health. As your brain gets the signal from your hand that it’s holding something heavy, it fires a message to your shoulders to brace the rotator cuff muscles to protect the shoulders and strengthen them.

Of course your traps are hard at work too. They’re responsible for transferring force between the back, arms, and bar. As with many other muscles involved in this lift, the traps work isometrically. That’s to say that they work hard, but doesn’t shorten or lengthen lie it normally does when you flex.

The prime movers in the deadlift are the leg muscles; your hamstrings, quads, and glutes do all the heavy lifting.

As for the secondary muscles worked; well, that’s pretty much everything else. You now know about the traps and shoulders, now let’s take a look at the other major players.

The big secondary muscle group is the back. Some use the deadlift as a back exercise, but don’t fall into that trap. The conventional deadlift is a leg movement. When done correctly, the back moves very little and acts as a stabilizer. The erector spinae muscles, which run the entire length of the spine, contract isometrically to help maintain a flat back. They don’t act alone in this pursuit. The abdominal muscles contribute a fair amount as well making this a great core exercise.

Your other back muscles come into play as well. The latissimus dorsi help hold the shoulder joint upright and keep the arms tightly against the trunk. Again, they act isometrically. For safety, it’s important to keep your low back from rounding. The erector spinae are responsible for this. And of course if done right, this is another isometric contraction. Even the tiny back muscles like the rhomboids and scapular retractors are hard at work. They function to keep the shoulders back and the chest upright.

Though not too active, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles that make up the calves help with stabilization.

As you can see, there really isn’t really any muscle group left out, except for maybe your chest.

Deadlift Variations

With all the different variations, there’s really no need to ever get tired of this exercise.

Conventional: The most popular.

Sumo: This variation allows you to sink your hips a little deeper than normal. Your legs are wide, hands are close, and you’re able to get your chest up higher.

Trap Bar: The same as conventional, but requires the use of a special bar.

Deadlift Technique

Follow these simple steps to set up for the deadlift:


  • Position the bar so it’s touching your shins.
  • Place your feet about hip width apart, with your toes straight ahead or slightly pointed out.
  • To reach the bar, push your hips back.
  • Grab the bar just outside your shins with an overhand grip.
  • Lift your chest and use your lats to pull the bar into your shins.
  • With your eyes looking up, tuck your chin to your chest.
  • Lift the chest, making sure it’s always above your hips.
  • Drive your heels through the floor and pull back like you’re the anchor of a tug-of-war team.
  • Finish the lift by actively squeezing your glutes (the soon to be sexy butt).

To return the weight to the floor and begin your next rep, we’re going to reverse the process.

Push your hips back keeping your legs straight, allowing only a slight bend in your knees. Once the bar gets below knee height, bend them until the weight reaches the floor.

As you can see, the deadlift is a versatile exercise and belongs in everyone’s program.

Be sure to keep your chest up and your back flat.

Lift heavy and you will see your body change.

Now go lift some weight.

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