Benefits of the Deadlift

Kevin S. Turner – Turner Strength and Performance

Photo by cottonbro on

Walk into any respectable gym and you will no doubt see a deadlift being performed with massive amounts of weight, that in any other setting, would be moved around with a forklift. At this point, you may wonder to yourself why would anyone do this and how does becoming a human forklift help me reach my goals of health and wellness? Great question and even though deadlifts are a great display of strength they also offer numerous benefits that should make them a staple in every program. But before we get into the benefits, lets explain what deadlifts are. The Deadlift is a compound movement that works several muscle groups at once and is often performed with a barbell that is initiated from the floor with no momentum. (Dead weight)

Who should deadlift?

The deadlift is beneficial to everyone from strength and power athletes to the general population. Whether you are a powerlifter who competes with the deadlift or a strongman who deadlifts cars to even the parent who picks up their kids or groceries, developing strength in a hip hinge pattern will help aid and transfer to everyday tasks along with athletic performance.

What muscles do the deadlift work?

The deadlift is a compound exercise which means that they train multiple muscle groups at once. A Few of the muscles involved are the gluteus maximus, quadriceps femoris, hamstrings, trapezius, lats, and erector spinae.

Improves posture

Deadlifts strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize the spine and are essential to standing with proper posture and preventing lower back pain.

Improves bone mineral density

 A major issue facing older adults is the loss of bone mineral density. The advanced stage of this is called osteoporosis and significantly increases the risk of fractures along with other health problems stemming from the loss of mobility. Often, in older populations, low impact aerobics training like swimming, cycling and walking is prescribed to prevent osteoporosis but has been shown to have little to no effect on bone loss. Although aerobic exercise is beneficial to overall health, studies have shown that resistance exercise is more effective in improving bone health. (A Ram Hong and Sang Wan Kim. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health)

Helps prevent and reduce injury

Deadlifts are a great way to increase muscular, tendon, and ligament strength. Stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments help hold the body in proper alignment and protects bones and joints while moving or during impact.

Boosts metabolism

Resistance training has been proven to increase your metabolism through movement and compound exercises like the deadlift have been shown to be an efficient way of increasing the amount of calories burned. (Yoke, Mary M.. WHAT ARE THE BEST WEIGHT ROOM EXERCISES FOR INCREASING ENERGY EXPENDITURE?)

Deadlift variations

Although the conventional deadlift is the most common technique associated with the deadlift, there are numerous other variations that are very effective at building strength and muscle. Below I highlight a few variations that you may want to give a try.

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift uses a barbell placed in front of the lifter similar to a conventional but the feet are placed wider apart with a more vertical torso angle. The range of motion the barbell must travel is considerably less. This, along with better leverages, gives the potential to lift more weight.

Hex Bar Deadlift (Trap Bar)

The hex bar is a hexagonal shaped bar that you stand inside of to perform the lift. There are typically two handles on the left and right side at different heights that allow for shorter or longer ranges of motion. The handles, placed at the center of the body, make the trap bar unique in that it allows for a more natural grip and the weight distribution to be kept midline of the body which typically allows for more weight to be lifted.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The RDL is an exercise that can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or trap bar and begins in the standing position with the weight at waist height. The movement begins at waist height with slightly bent knees. The hips are then hinged while the barbell is then lowered below the knees. Once below the knees, the movement is reversed by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes. The Romanian deadlift has been shown to put more emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings with less emphasis on the quadriceps.


Deadlifts are a great option to build a foundation of strength that will carry over into sport and everyday life. The multiple variations offer a wide range of options that can be adapted to all fitness levels and abilities. If you are looking for an efficient way of building muscle, strength and boosting your metabolism, then the deadlift and its variations should be a key component of your training program.

Please note the information contained on this website is intended for informational purposes only. Consult with a healthcare professional to help diagnose and treat injuries of any kind.

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