How to Do Deadlifts

By Laura High @healthwriter61
January 03, 2018

Learning how to do deadlifts, and how to deadlift properly, can go a long way toward your fitness goals, and not just from the waist down.

Deadlifts are one of those basic fitness moves often associated with heavily muscled people who hang out at gyms, lift very heavy weights, and make a lot of noise while they’re doing it. It’s a stereotype, but having spent a few minutes at gyms myself I can say it’s a characterization that it isn’t entirely unfair. Thankfully, you don’t have to fit into any of those categories to benefit from learning how to deadlift properly.

What muscles do deadlifts work?

The deadlift is a fantastic compound movement that primarily targets your glutes and hamstrings, but also strengthens your core and lower back, as well as shoulders, forearms, and upper back. Lifting a heavy weight with your entire body means your entire body benefits. But you don’t have to be a body builder or trying to bulk up to see benefits from learning how to do deadlifts. Deadlifts are great for anyone looking to improve their total body conditioning. They’re especially good for women who want to lift and tone their glutes and tighten their hamstrings.

How to do deadlifts

Unless you have a pretty robust home setup, deadlifts are most easily practiced in a gym. Deadlifts are traditionally done with a straight barbell. It’s worth it to learn the “old school” mechanics before you try any of the many modifications. As with all exercises done with free weights, form is extremely important. This is especially true of the deadlift, more so as you get into heavier weights, particularly if you have a weak or easily aggravated lower back.

Most gyms have an area with a weight cage or rack your can use for a variety of exercises, including deadlifts. If you’ve never done a deadlift, and depending on your condition, you may want to start with light weights or just the bar until you are comfortable with the form. An empty bar weighs between 25 and 45 pounds, but you may be surprised by how much you can actually lift. Keep in mind you are using the largest muscles in your body.


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April 08, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN