What Muscles Do Deadlifts Work in Your Workout

What Muscles do Deadlifts Work

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The deadlift is one of the big 3 core exercises and for good reason. It is one of the best exercises for gaining strength but what muscles do deadlifts work? We will take a look along with the benefits and some deadlift workout routines in this article.

What is the deadlift?

The deadlift is a weightlifting exercise performed by squatting down, grasping the barbell with an overhand grip at shoulder height and stretching one’s legs behind the body until both knees are bent at approximately 90 degrees. The bottom position of a deadlift can be any variation on either a partial or full squat. When executed with perfect form and proper technique the entire range of motion for this movement, from receiving the bar to standing upright again, should last no more than 4 seconds.

What muscles do deadlifts work?

There are a great many muscles involved in the deadlift and when describing what muscles fo deadlifts work. The more advanced the athlete and the heavier the weights used, the more involved and complex the movement becomes. Below is a list of some of the muscles that deadlifts work: Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, back, core and the trapezius.

What Are the Benefits of Deadlifts?

The deadlift is a compound movement, meaning it works multiple muscle groups at the same time. It is also one of the best strength building exercises for not only the lower body, but for the whole body. There are far too many benefits to list here so this article will focus on what muscles do deadlifts work and then cover a few of the most important benefits in more depth.

Deadlifts are one of the best full body workouts for gaining strength.

Looking to perfect your deadlift form, try our Resistance Band Deadlift Workout

Working a variety of muscle groups at once, especially when lifting heavy weights is the best way to gain strength and muscle.

Deadlifts are an effective workout for strengthening the lower back and core muscles. This is not only because of the amount of weight that can be lift but also because of the strain on the muscles during recovery periods between sets.

Deadlifts put a lot of stress on the entire body. Therefore this exercise is great for endurance training as well.

Deadlifts are a one stop shop for whole body muscle growth and endurance.

How to do a Deadlift

A normal 45-pound barbell is required for a deadlift. You can gradually increase your weight by 2.5 to 10 pounds on each side. The amount of weight you should utilize is determined on your level of fitness. Do not add more weight until you have perfected your form. For additional tips ask your trainer or an online group if you do online powerlifting training.

  1. Stand behind the bar, with feet slightly apart. Bend at the waist and grab it with a wide grip.
  2. As you grab the bar, make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your hips are down.
  3. Push your hips forward into a standing position while maintaining a flat back. Stand with your legs straight, shoulders back, and knees virtually locked out. Straight arms slightly below hip height are the proper way to hold the barbell.
  4. Now bend your knees to lower the weight down towards the floor. Keep your back straight and head up during this time.
  5. Repeat as needed

How Many Deadlift Reps Should I Do?

This will depend on each individual and the amount of weight you are using. To start, aim for 1 to 5 reps and perform 3 to 5 sets.

What Are the Different Types of Deadlifts?

deadlift variations

There are several different types of deadlifts depending on the position of the knees and hands. The standard deadlift with both feet close together, heels straight ahead and a shoulder width over hand grip is the most common form. As stated previously, the bottom position can vary from partial to full squat, depending on whether a weight is being lifted or not. When lifting a weight, the bottom position is full squat. On a traditional deadlift, the initial position is a partial squat. The stance remains the same throughout the lift.

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift has most of its emphasis on each leg individually which adds to its difficulty and isolation of each muscle in your legs as well as your hips and hamstrings. The stance for this particular style is wider than for conventional deadlifts, with feet turned outwards at about 30 to 45 degrees and toes pointed slightly outwards. The sumo deadlift is easier to perform with a heavy weight.

When performing the sumo deadlift, you need to hit a full range of motion like conventional deadlifts. However, it is important that you reduce resistance when you lift lighter weights.

Snatch Grip Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift is performed like your typical conventional deadlift except that the hands are placed wider than shoulder width and turned outwards slightly. The bar is lifted off ground until knees or hips lock out and then lowered back down.

The snatch grip deadlift is easier to perform than a conventional deadlift, as it requires less flexibility. However, it is not recommended when initial training is being performed as the increased weight puts your body in a very unstable position, thus reducing strength.

Romanian deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a variation of the normal deadlift. While the bar is held on the ground, it is raised to chest height before being lowered back down to the floor. Performing this exercise requires that you use your legs more than in other forms of deadlifts.

Deadlift Alternatives for Beginners

If you are new to working out and not ready to jump into deadlifting, there are several deadlift alternatives that are great for working several of the same groups of muscles as what muscles do deadlifts work.

Cable machine Romanian Deadlift

A cable machine Romanian deadlift is great for those who are not comfortable going into a full range of motion and/or are new to lifting. This is a great exercise for training the hip drive, glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Deadlift with Dumbbells or with Barbell on Stability Ball

This is another great variation of the deadlift that works the same muscles as conventional deadlifts, however the emphasis is slightly more on your hips and hamstrings than those performing a conventional deadlift.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are an excellent workout for your hamstrings, glutes and obliques. It is also a great whole body workout.

The kettlebell swing works a lot of the same muscles as the deadlift, only in a different format. While deadlifts are typically performed with the bar on the floor, kettlebell swings are performed while suspended in air. This adds substantially to its intensity and difficulty level because you have no control over slow down on impact as you do with deadlifts.

Pistol squat on Bosu ball

The Pistol squat on a Bosu ball is a great way to focus on strengthening your hips and glutes as well as developing stability in your core. This is a much safer option for those wanting to learn these skills.

What Are the Big 3 Exercises?

The Big 3 are considered to be the bench press, squat and the deadlift. This is simply because these exercises have a greater effect on increasing muscle strength and size than other exercises in both the core and ancillary exercise lists of most workout routines. Combining these with a good cardio workout such as our Cardio Treadmill Workout Plan can take your gains to the next level.


The deadlift is an effective way to add bulk and muscle mass while also increasing strength. It is an important exercise for any workout plan since it also plays a big part in injury prevention. This exercise is both safe and effective and can, with proper form, be great for beginners or advanced lifters.