What Muscles Do Deadlifts Work?

Deadlifts have long been associated with huge and bulky muscles - think, Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, that’s been changing for the better as more and more people, particularly women, are getting involved in doing this highly underrated strength exercise.

Before having those preconceived notions about deadlifting, it’s important to know what muscles do deadlifts work in the first place. You’d be surprised to know just how effective it is as a form of workout, but also how easy and convenient it is to do and the numerous benefits you can get by doing it.


What are the Benefits & Advantages of Doing Deadlifts?

Doing deadlifts is not just for gaining muscle mass and looking more muscular and bulky. It provides a wide range of benefits and advantages that any person looking to get fit from head to toe and from the inside out would surely appreciate in the long run.

  • Requires minimum equipment & space – Compared to other types of workout, you’ll only need the bare minimum equipment - such as a bar and weights - to perform a deadlift. You also won’t need that much space as opposed to doing cardio or agility exercises.
  • Safe lifting workout – Deadlifts are relatively safe to do given that you know the proper posture and you’re only lifting within your capabilities and strength. You’re at no risk of stressing your joints or getting pinned down, which could be the case for squats and bench press.
  • Cardio-respiratory strength – With the right intensity, you can improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system’s health over time.
  • Numerous applications in real life – Deadlifts probably have the most beneficial real-life applications, mainly being able to lift heavy objects with much ease. You can also have an improved gripping strength and that certain confidence in knowing you’re strong enough on your own and without the help of machinery or other equipment.
  • Several muscles being worked out – As what will be discussed in this article, deadlifts target a wide range of muscle groups all at the same time and with that one distinct movement.

How to Properly Do a Standard Deadlift

Before knowing what muscles do deadlifts work, it would be helpful first to have an idea of the proper way of doing a standard deadlift to understand how the body would benefit from it.

Here are the four basic steps to perform a standard deadlift and how to do it properly:

  • Stance: Your stance should be shoulder-width. Proceed then to grip the barbell and make sure your inner forearms touch the outside of your thighs, and your shins would lightly touch the bar. The under/overhand grip is more widely used in doing deadlifts.
  • Posture: Position your spine in a neutral position and look straight ahead, ensuring that your hips are down. Tighten your core as you put your shoulders back and squeezing tightly. Also, see to it that your chest is forward and that your back is not hollowed down.
  • Lift Weight: Engage your core, shoulders, and glutes, and grip the bar tight as you push up with your feet. You have to draw strength from your legs and not from your arms and back. As you lock in, use your upper body strength when the bar is positioned midway on your upper thighs. Also remember always to keep the bar close to your body all the way through.
  • Lower Weight: To be effective in deadlifts, make sure that you lower the weight with much care and control throughout. See to it that you’re still focused and mindful of your posture, stance, and your grip as you put the weight down.

What Muscle Do Deadlifts Work?

Deadlifts should be synonymous with total body workouts with how effective it is in activating different muscle groups all at once.

Here are the specific muscle groups that deadlifts work:

  • Back muscles: Your back muscles, particularly your lower back and the latissimus dorsi, can vastly be enhanced in just a short amount of time with regular deadlifts. Your back is where the main stress of it all falls and deadlifts are a great way to strengthen your back muscles.
  • Gluteus maximus, etc.: People who deadlift regularly have noticeable rounder and more muscular gluteus maximus and its surrounding muscles. Glutes are put into play at the ascension and should remain tightened for maximum efficiency.
  • Leg muscles: By drawing strength from your legs in deadlifting, pretty much the entire leg muscle group is being worked out at the same time from ascension to descent.
  • Arm muscles: The arms, especially the forearms, maintained contracted during the lifting phase and are worked out tremendously.
  • Shoulders & neck muscles: Once at the peak of the movement, the shoulders and the trapezius are pulled back holding the weight, which is why a lot of people who regularly deadlift have pronounced shoulders and traps.

Indeed, deadlifts are very beneficial and can vastly improve anyone’s strength and overall health and fitness with regular workouts. It all boils down to regulating the workout to achieve your desired strength and form and without overdoing it, which could cause injuries or muscle fatigue.

Nancy Moore

Hi, everyone! My name is Nancy Moore and I am the founder and creator of Fitnessgrams. I created Fitnessgrams to be a haven for people looking to get fit, boost their health, lose weight, or improve their well-being. Here you will find experiences, workouts, information from the experts, healthy living tips, and tools to find well-being and balance.

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