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What Muscles Are Worked When Deadlifting?

If you're seeking a workout that can help you develop muscle, strength and overall performance then the deadlift is worth considering. The deadlift is an effective and versatile exercise that targets several muscle groups simultaneously while also replicating movements we encounter in everyday life.

In this article I'll delve into the muscles engaged during deadlifting, discuss its benefits and provide guidance on form and technique for optimal results.

What Muscles Are Worked When Deadlifting?

The deadlift is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weight from the floor to a standing position. It requires the coordination of several muscle groups, including:

  • Glutes. These are huge buttock muscles. Your hips stretch and drive your body upward as you lift the weight.
  • Quads. Your front thighs have these muscles. They support your body and extend your knees when you rise up with the weight.
  • Hamstrings. The back of your thighs have these muscles. They flex your knees and help your glutes extend your hips.
  • Lower back.From pelvis to ribs, these muscles run along your spine. They stabilize your spine and prevent rounding or arching while lifting weights.
  • Lats.These massive muscles go from armpits to hips down your sides. They draw your shoulders back and keep the weight close to your torso during lifting.
  • Biceps. These are your upper arm front muscles. They help you grip the weight and flex your elbows.
  • Core. Your trunk and spine are supported by these muscles. They include the six-pack, obliques, transverse, and erector spinae. They brace your core and prevent spine twisting while you lift weight.

Deadlifts train practically every major muscle group in the body. Building muscle, strength, and power is efficient and effective with this exercise.

Why You Should Do Deadlifts

Besides working multiple muscles at once, deadlifts also offer many other benefits for your fitness and health, such as:

Improved posture

Strong back, core, and glutes from deadlifts assist maintain a neutral spine alignment and enhance posture. Deadlifts can also rectify muscle imbalances that cause bad posture or pain.

Increased fat burning

Deadlifts enhance muscle mass and basal metabolic rate (BMR), which burns more calories during rest. Deadlifts increase your heart rate and metabolism during and after the workout, burning more calories and fat.

Enhanced performance

Deadlifts promote strength, power, speed, agility, and coordination, improving sports, work, and daily tasks. Deadlifting also strengthens muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons and reduces injury risk.

Boosted confidence

Deadlifts challenge your body and mind, making you feel stronger, more capable, and more accomplished. Deadlifts shape and tone muscles, making you look leaner and fitter.

How to Do Deadlifts

Deadlifts require a plate bar or trap bar with handles. Weight depends on fitness level and goals. Start with a low weight and increase it as you gain strength and become more comfortable. Follow these steps:

  • Stand behind the barbell or trap bar with your feet about hip-width apart. Your feet should be under the bar or inside the handles, and your toes should point slightly outward.
  • Bend down and grip the bar or handles with both hands, about shoulder-width apart. You can use an overhand grip (both palms facing down) or a mixed grip (one palm facing up and one palm facing down). Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back and down.
  • Brace your core and look straight ahead. This will help you keep your back flat and your chest up throughout the movement.
  • Inhale and start lifting the weight by pushing your feet into the floor and straightening your legs. Keep the weight close to your body and don’t let it swing or drag on the floor.
  • Push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes to lock out the movement as the weight passes your knees. Finish standing tall with straight legs, stretched hips, and back shoulders. The weight should be in front of your thighs and your arms somewhat below hip height.
  • Pause at the top, breath, and lower the weight. Bend your knees and drive your hips back with a flat back and supported core. Lower the weight to the floor again.
  • Aim for 5 to 10 reps, depending on the amount of weight you are lifting. Perform 3 to 5 sets, resting for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.

Tips for Doing Deadlifts

To get the most out of deadlifts and avoid injuries, you should follow these tips:

  • If lifting high weights, warm up before deadlifts. Dynamic stretches, mobility drills, and light cardio help prepare your muscles and joints for exercise.
  • Start with a light weight and focus on mastering the proper form before adding more weight. Don’t sacrifice technique for load, as this can lead to poor performance and injury.
  • Keep your back flat and neutral throughout the movement. Don’t round or arch your back, as this can put too much pressure on your spine and discs. If you feel any pain or discomfort in your lower back, stop immediately and check your form.
  • Keep your head in line with your spine and look straight ahead. Don’t look up or down, as this can cause neck strain or affect your balance.
  • Keep the weight close to your body and don’t let it swing or drag on the floor. This will help you maintain control of the weight and prevent momentum from taking over.
  • Don’t jerk or bounce the weight off the floor. Lift and lower the weight in a smooth and controlled manner, using your muscles rather than inertia.
  • Don’t lock out or hyperextend your knees at the top of the movement. This can cause knee injury or instability. Keep a slight bend in your knees and focus on extending your hips instead.
  • Breathe properly during deadlifts. Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift it. This will help you create intra-abdominal pressure and stabilize your core.


Deadlifts are a powerful workout that train numerous muscle groups and enhance fitness. They improve muscle mass, strength, power, posture, fat burning, performance, and confidence.

Deadlifts require a plate bar or trap bar with handles. Start with a small weight and increase it as you gain strength and become more comfortable. Follow the techniques and tips above to do the exercise safely and properly.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!