Deadlift exercise: How to Perform a Stronger and Efficient

The deadlift exercise is one of the most effective exercises for builders of muscle mass. It works the entire body, from the back to the legs and abdominals, and can help you burn calories like no other exercise. If you’re looking to put on some size and improve your conditioning, try out this powerful lift!

Benefits of the Deadlift exercise

Increases Muscle Mass: Deadlifts are well-known for increasing muscular mass, which is useful for bodybuilders and people who want to avoid or reverse muscle loss caused by aging. The deadlift exercise can be used to increase general strength, core strength, and stability. (1)

Increases Metabolism: At rest, your metabolism affects how many calories you burn. Your metabolism will accelerate if you have lean muscle. You can help raise your metabolism by increasing the amount of lean muscle in your body. Because deadlifts work with some of the largest muscular groups in the body, they are an excellent choice for increasing your body’s percentage of lean muscle. (2)

Builds Functional Fitness: The deadlift exercise is one of the best exercises for mimicking the lifting you do throughout the day, so it is a functional exercise. By learning to deadlift exercise with good form, you will be able to lift and carry items with less risk in daily life. (3)

muscles worked by deadlift exercise

muscles worked by deadlift exercise
  • Hamstrings: these are located at the back of the thigh and are responsible for extending the hip and knee. (4)
  • Glutes: These are found in the buttocks and are in charge of hip extension and pelvic stability. (5)
  • Erector spinae: The erector spinae is a group of muscles that runs along the spine and is responsible for extending the back.
  • Trapezius: It is a broad triangle muscle that runs across the upper back and shoulders. It is in charge of raising the scapulae, twisting the head, and extending the neck.

How to Do a Deadlift exercise


Select a lightweight barbell to begin.

  1. Position your feet shoulder-width apart (or a little wider) with your toes under the bar. The feet might point straight front or slightly outward. Heels should be kept flat on the ground. When you raise, the bar will come close to and possibly graze your shins. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Stabilize the abdominal muscles by bracing them.
  3. Squat down and bend your knees. Descending to the bar requires a similar (but not identical) technique to the squat, with your back straight or slightly arched and not rounded at the shoulders or spine.
  4. Grasp the bar just outside the line of the knees with an overhand or mixed grip.
  5. Lift the bar by pushing up from the knees with your legs. Exertion causes you to expel your breath. Take care not to raise the hips first, causing the trunk to move forward and the back to round. Do not try to lift the bar with your arms. As the legs push up, the arms remain extended and grab the bar with tension. Consider the legs and shoulders going upward in sync with the hips, which serve as the balancing point.
  6. The bar should almost graze the shins and rest around thigh level as you reach full height. Pull the shoulders back as much as possible without bending backward.
  7. Lower the bar to the floor with a reverse motion ensuring a straight back.
  8. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.

Common Mistakes of Deadlift Exercise

Deadlifts have numerous advantages, but performing them correctly is critical. Injury from deadlifts may prevent you from exercising while you recuperate, therefore it’s not worth the risk. Avoid these mistakes to get the most out of this workout while minimizing the danger of strain or injury.

Deadlift mistakes

Rounding Your Back or Shoulders

Maintain a straight back with no rounding of the shoulders or spine. You should hinge at the hips. Butt out and keep those hips down. Brace your abs to keep your back straight.

Lifting With Your Arms or Back

For beginners, the key to the lifting process is to lift with the legs and hips, not the arms, shoulders, or back—although their stabilizing role is important. Keep your arms straight throughout the lift. Bending your arms can strain your biceps.

Using Too Much Weight

When first starting out, use a small weight to perfect your form. The correct form can be checked by a personal trainer or a gym trainer. If required, practice in front of a mirror. You can raise your weight as your fitness improves, but do it gradually to avoid straining your muscles. Proper footwear, such as these top CrossFit shoes, is crucial for all weightlifting workouts.

Partial Lifts

With a lightweight, you can do repetitions in which you lower the bar to your shin or even floor and then straighten again without releasing your grip on the bar. This is not truly a deadlift exercise repetition. It is better to practice a full lift, lower to the floor, and start again from a standing position.

Bar Too Far From Body

When performing deadlifts, some people position the weight too far away from the body. For best lift effectiveness and safety, the bar should move close to the body. Lifting allows you to skim the front of your legs.

Variations of deadlift exercise

Dumbbell Deadlifts

If you don’t have access to a barbell or if the weight of the bar is too difficult, you might attempt a kettlebell or vertical dumbbell deadlift exercise with a smaller weight. As with a barbell, you grab the object with both hands and hinge at the hip to lift it. Workout sandbags can also be used for a range of full-body exercises, such as deadlifts.

Romanian Deadlifts

The main difference between Romanian deadlifts and regular deadlifts is that instead of starting the lift from a squat, Romanian deadlifts start the lift from a standing position. This variation works the posterior chain muscles, which include the muscles that run along the back side of your body, such as the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. You can also do the Romanian deadlift exercise with offset feet, which may more closely mimic real-life situations in picking up and moving heavy objects.

Stiff Leg deadlift exercise

In this variation of deadlifts, you stand throughout the motion, keeping your legs rigid and your knees practically locked. As you bend forward and return to standing, keep your spine neutral and the bar close to your body. The hamstrings and gluteus maximus are more activated in the stiff leg deadlift exercise than in the normal or Romanian deadlift.

alternatives of the deadlift exercise

  • Barbell rows: This is an excellent exercise for targeting the back muscles, which include the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the waist until your torso is parallel to the ground to do a barbell row. Take an overhand grip on the barbell, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your elbows tight to your sides as you row the barbell up to your chest. Pause at the top of the movement before gradually lowering the barbell back to the starting position.
  • Pull-ups: A compound exercise that works the back, arms, and core. To do a pull-up, grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar, keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
  • Squats: A multi-joint exercise that targets the legs, hips, and core. Squats are performed by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. Keep your back straight and your core engaged as you descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position by driving through your heels.

What is a good deadlift routine?

A good deadlift routine should be tailored to your individual fitness level and goals. However, there are some general principles that you can follow to create a routine that is effective and safe.


Most people can benefit from deadlifting 1-2 times per week. If you are new to deadlifting, it is best to start with once per week and gradually increase the frequency as you get stronger.

Sets and reps

For deadlifts, a good rep range is 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps. If you are new to deadlifting, you may want to start with 3 sets of 5 reps. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of sets and reps.

Weight selection

Choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to maintain good form. If you are new to deadlifting, it is a good idea to start with a weight that is 50-60% of your one-rep max (1RM). As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the weight.


To continue making progress, you need to gradually increase the weight or the number of sets and reps. A good rule of thumb is to increase the weight by 5-10 pounds each week. If you are unable to complete all of your sets and reps with good form, then decrease the weight.


Before you start deadlifting, it is important to warm up properly. This will help to prevent injuries. A good warm-up should include some light cardio and dynamic stretches. You should also perform some warm-up sets of deadlifts with a lighter weight.


After you finish deadlifting, it is important to cool down properly. This will help your body to recover. A good cool-down should include some light cardio and static stretches.

deadlifts vs. Romanian deadlifts

Both deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts are compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups throughout the body, but they have some key differences.


The hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, trapezius, quadriceps, calves, forearms, and core are all worked out during a deadlift. Begin with the barbell on the ground in front of you to conduct a deadlift. Bend down and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. As you lift the barbell off the ground, keep your back straight and your core engaged. Drive your heels into the ground and extend your hips and knees until you are standing upright. Pause at the top of the movement before gradually lowering the barbell back to the starting position.

Romanian deadlifts (RDLs)

RDLs are a hamstring-focused exercise that also works the glutes and erector spinae. To perform an RDL, start with the barbell in front of you at hip height. With your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward, bend down and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your core engaged as you lower the barbell down your thighs, keeping your shins close to the bar. Stop when the bar reaches your shins or slightly below. Drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position.


Should I wear a belt for deadlifts?

Lifting belts securely brace your core, allowing you to maintain a neutral spine during the lift without struggling as much. Lifting without a belt puts a lot of strain on your spine and your back, which can lead to injury if you don’t maintain proper technique.

How many deadlifts is a good workout?

Increasing muscle size involves performing 6 to 12 reps over 3 to 6 sets with a one-minute rest time. This is usually the preferred option for individuals interested in bodybuilding. A moderate rep and set range also aid in injury prevention.

can deadlifts help you lose belly fat?

The number of calories burnt is determined by the type of lift chosen as well as the intensity. Because deadlifts improve musculoskeletal health, doing them on a regular basis will help you lose weight, reduce belly fat, and improve your general health.

Are deadlifts with dumbbells effective?

Dumbbell deadlifts are an efficient approach to increasing lower-body strength and muscular hypertrophy. While this variation is beneficial to all lifters, it is especially beneficial to novices since it allows them to become acquainted with the movement pattern while reducing the danger of injury.


1. Lohman, E. B., Alameri, M., Cakir, F., Chia, C. C., Shih, M., Mulay, O., … & Daher, N. (2023). Comparison of kinematics and myoelectrical activity during deadlift, with and without variable banded resistance, in healthy, trained athletes.

2. Picozzi, A. A. (2023). Effects of Feedback Type on Trap Bar Deadlift Performance in Female ROTC Cadets (Doctoral dissertation, Temple University).

3. Gillingham, B., Bishop, A., Higa, G. K., Adams, K. J., & DeBeliso, M. (2023). The Relationship Between Partial and Full Range of Motion Deadlift 1-Repetition Maximum: A Technical Note. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research37(4), 909-914.

4. Plotkin, D. L., Rodas, M. A., Vigotsky, A. D., McIntosh, M. C., Breeze, E., Ubrik, R., … & Roberts, M. D. (2023). Hip thrust and back squat training elicit similar gluteus muscle hypertrophy and transfer similarly to the deadlift. bioRxiv, 2023-06.

5. Ramirez, V., Ghezelbash, F., Shirazi‐Adl, A., & Bazrgari, B. (2023). Trunk muscle forces and spinal loads during heavy deadlift: Effects of personalization, muscle wrapping, muscle lever arm, and lumbopelvic rhythm. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering39(4), e3680.

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