Few exercises exist for increasing strength, performance, and muscle mass in the shortest possible time. The deadlift is a popular compound exercise that trains multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
The deadlift is a universal exercise that’s used in several strength sports, including powerlifting, strongman, and CrossFit. Choose from a number of variations based on goals, equipment, body type, and preferences. In addition to strength, the movement is also very effective for building lower and upper body muscle.
Moreover, the deadlift can support various other movements and daily activity. This article will cover the top eight benefits of deadlifts as well as some frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
- 1 Deadlift Benefits
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
- 3 Other Exercise Posts
- 3.1 Arnold Split Workout + Example Spreadsheet
- 3.2 How to do Bulgarian Split Squats with Proper Form
- 3.3 Decline Bench Press Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.4 How to Squat with Perfect Form
- 3.5 The 7 Best Compound Chest Exercises
- 3.6 Incline Bench Press Muscles Worked and Benefits
- 3.7 How to Bench Press with Perfect Form
- 3.8 How to Front Squat with Proper Form
- 3.9 The Top 10 Muscles Worked by Planks
- 3.10 Front Squat Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.11 The 6 Best Gym Machines For Weight Loss
- 3.12 The Top 10 Pull-up Muscles Worked
- 3.13 Lat Pulldown Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.14 Hack Squat Muscles Worked and Benefits
- 3.15 Seated Cable Row Benefits, Form, and Muscles Worked
- 3.16 Inverted Row Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.17 The Top 6 Muscles Worked by Glute Bridges
- 3.18 The Landmine Press: Muscles Worked, Benefits and Form
- Improves total body strength
- Effective for building more muscle mass
- Increases bone density
- Improves athletic performance
- Requires minimal equipment
- Increases bone density
- Numerous deadlift variations to choose from
Improves total body strength
Unlike most exercises, the deadlift works nearly the entire body. Several major muscle groups are engaged during a deadlift, including the hamstrings, glutes, quads, erectors, core, lats, upper back, and forearms.
The deadlift is a pulling exercise that primarily increases the strength of your posterior chain. It’s also very effective for improving grip strength, especially if you don’t use lifting straps. Since the deadlift is a compound movement, it can be trained in various rep ranges.
With that said, it lends itself best to a lower rep range between one to five reps. Along with the squat and bench press, the deadlift is used in multiple strength sports, most notably powerlifting, to assess a competitor’s overall strength.
Effective for building more lean muscle mass
Since it’s a compound movement, lifting capacity is much greater than isolation exercises. Barbell exercises, in general, lend themselves toward better progressive overload because weight can be added in smaller increments. Lifting more weight is a form of progressive overload, along with doing more reps, improving your form, and increasing volume (sets).
Progressive overload is key to building muscle mass because it forces your muscles to adapt to increased stress. Lifting the same amount of weight for the same number of sets and reps, results in little muscle growth because of the lack of stimulus.
The deadlift works several major muscle groups, and can increase size in hamstrings, glutes, erectors, lats, traps, and forearms from deadlifting. Not to mention, there are numerous deadlift variations that can be used to target certain body parts more than others.
For example, rack pulls or a conventional deadlift off blocks will emphasize the back more. A sumo deadlift is a great option for more glutes and hamstring activation. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest, which will help you lose body fat.
Increases bone density
Osteoporosis is a medical condition where bones become weak and brittle, which increases your risk of fractures. Beyond diet and certain medications, resistance training is single-handedly the best thing for reducing risk of osteoporosis and increasing bone density. Since resistance training places stress on the bones, it forces them to remodel and rebuild to become stronger.
Additionally, resistance training can help improve balance and coordination, decreasing the risk of falling and fractures. Deadlifting regularly can benefit older adults because more tension can be applied safely on the bones more than other weight-bearing activities.
Improves athletic performance
Since deadlifting increases core strength, it has a lot of carry-over to other movements, such as jumping, and running. This is why many strength and conditioning coaches of varying sports have their athletes deadlift.
Deadlifts improve grip strength which can assist performing daily activities. Regarding other exercises, the deadlift can increase squat, clean, and snatch performance. Although the deadlift is usually a primary lift, it can be used as an accessory movement to improve performance elsewhere.
The deadlift is ideal if you’re short on time because it trains so many large muscle groups simultaneously. Instead of doing individual exercises for the hamstrings, lower back, forearms, lats, and glutes, you can work all of these muscles with one movement.
In general, compound movements offer the most bang for your buck because they involve multiple joints, can be performed with more weight, and are equally effective for gaining strength as they are for gaining size.
Requires minimal equipment
A traditional deadlift is performed with an Olympic barbell and plates. No squat rack is needed because the movement starts from the floor. With that said, it’s common for gyms to have a deadlift platform to help protect their floor from getting damaged. Bumper plates instead of metal plates are designed to be dropped.
Deadlifts can also be performed with kettlebells or dumbbells if no access to a barbell.
Numerous deadlift variations to choose from
The deadlift can easily be scaled and modified to vary the challenge, so nearly anyone can benefit from them. Multiple deadlift variations exist to accommodate many goals and experience levels Some of the most common deadlift variations include the conventional, sumo and Romanian.
Specialized equipment can also be used to change the strength curve of the movement, such as chains and bands. Varyingexercise selection every 8-12 weeks is a great way to bust past strength plateaus and stimulate new muscle tissue growth.
It’s important to note that powerlifting competitors should regularly perform a conventional or sumo deadlift because those are the only two variations allowed. However, variations can help improve weaknesses in specific aspects of the lift when needed . For example, block pulls are a great tool for improving lockout. Performing deficit deadlifts helps pull more weight off the floor.
Bodybuilders may want to alter the deadlift to hit a specific body part. For example, the Romanian deadlift is great for targeting the hamstrings and glutes. The rack pull is ideal for building the lats, mid-back, erectors, and traps.
Frequently Asked Questions
The deadlift is considered to be a hip-hinge exercise, so any movement that falls into that category could be used as a replacement. If you’re in need of an exercise alternative due to injury, lack of equipment, or any other reason, here are some deadlift substitutions: good mornings; Romanian deadlifts; single-leg deadlifts; hip thrusts; 45-degree back extensions; rack pulls; cable pull-throughs; Sumo deadlift
If you want to learn more about the best deadlift alternatives, check out this article: The 7 Best Deadlift Alternatives
The primary difference between rack pulls and deadlifts is the starting position. Deadlifts start from the floor. Rack pulls start just below knee height, which is why they are normally performed in a squat rack. Rack pulls target primarily the back muscles, including the erectors, lats, and traps.
Traditional deadlifts work the entire posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, erectors, lats, and traps. Rack pulls use a shorter range of motion and is more specific to back hypertrophy. Conventional deadlifts engage much more of the lower body and have a much larger range of motion.
For all of the pros, cons, and differences between the deadlift and rack pulls, check out this article: Rack Pulls vs. Deadlifts: Differences, Pros, and Cons
The main difference between the Romanian deadlift and the deadlift is the starting position. Romanian deadlifts start from a standing position and end once the barbell reaches just below your knees. The conventional deadlift starts from the floor and ends once the hips are fully extended.
The Romanian deadlift has a shorter range of motion and places more tension on the glutes and hamstrings. The conventional deadlift has a larger range of motion and engages a lot more back muscles.
If you want to know whether the Romanian deadlift or deadlift is right for you, read this article: Romanian Deadlift vs Deadlift: When to do Each Variation
As long as you are using the proper deadlift exercise technique, deadlifts are not inherently dangerous. If you’ve never deadlifted before, several great instructional videos online cover proper deadlift technique.
Using the proper form with any exercise is important to get the most out of it and reduce injury risk. If you do deadlifts the right way, you’ll experience greater muscle growth, strength gains, and performance benefits.