Deadlift: Benefits / Muscles Worked / 8 Exercises To Improve Your Deadlift

September 4, 2022 / Workout
Deadlift: Benefits / Muscles Worked / 8 Exercises To Improve Your Deadlift

One of the best exercises you’ll want to get into the equation is deadlifts. This is one of the best strength and power building exercises you could do in your program and since almost all sports do require some degree of strength and power (explosiveness), this is a great way to develop that.

13 Best Benefits of Deadlift

If there’s one exercise that you absolutely must get into your workout protocol, deadlifts would be it.  Deadlifts are right on par with squats in terms of the benefits they offer the body and most people do already realize that squats are one of the king moves you could do in a workout session.

deadlift

Deadlifts will help not only boost your physical improvement, but as you’ll soon see, will also help improve your aesthetics, while improving psychological factors related to your workout as well.

All in all, you simply can’t afford to miss out on this critical move.  Let’s look at 13 reasons why deadlifts should be considered the greatest exercise ever – and why you need to be getting them into your program plan.

1- Boosts Your Metabolic Rate

The very first reason to deadlift? It helps you burn fat – rapidly. If you still think cardio training is the route to go for optimal fat burning, it’s time that you gave deadlifts a try.

A few sets of deadlifts are one of the best ways to jumpstart a sluggish metabolic rate, allowing you to burn fat faster for hours after the session is completed.

This is thanks to the fact that the deadlift utilizes so many muscles in each and every rep you do. The more muscle fibers you’re utilizing in any given instant, the more calories you’re burning.

2- Great For Injury Prevention

The second reason to deadlift is to help prevent injuries. This exercise is excellent for strengthening all the muscles running up and down the spinal column, which could then prevent lower back pain down the road.

As back pain does tend to be a very chronic injury for many people, once you begin suffering, it won’t look good from there.

A proper deadlift can help you put back pain behind you – or prevent it from even starting in the first place.

3- Transfers Benefits Onto Other Exercises

One great thing that you’ll notice with deadlifts is it has excellent transferability to other exercises you might be doing.  The strength gains you see in this move will not go unnoticed.  As you get stronger in this exercise, don’t be surprised if you get much stronger in a number of other exercises as well.

Plus, if you happen to perform any other athletic activities such as team sports, you’ll also notice improvements in those areas as well.

Deadlifts are great for boosting your overall physical performance, so a must for anyone concerned with this factor.

4- Builds A Killer Core

Want a flat stomach? You might just consider ditching the crunches and trying deadlifts instead.  This move will have you recruiting your core muscles maximally as they quickly tighten and help keep you balanced as you go about the exercise pattern.

Having a strong core is critical for injury prevention as well, so this might just help you side-step an injury as well.

You’ll not only hit the front abs while doing this move, but you’ll also hit the obliques and the muscles running along the back of the core as well.  This makes for a very firm, tight, midsection.

5- Improves Mental Toughness

If there’s one thing that you can count on when you perform deadlifts, it’s that you’re going to get a mental challenge.  Few moves are as mentally demanding as deadlifts are, so this can help you become more focused and tenacious when doing other exercises as well.

It’s important that you have a certain level of mental aggressiveness when trying to hit PR’s because it’s what helps you get that last rep in when most people would quit.  Deadlifts help build this mental aggressiveness like no other exercise can.

6- Enhances Your Grip Strength

The next key benefit not to overlook about deadlifts is that they’re great for improving your grip strength.  Grip strength is key for many different exercises including bent over rows as well as pull-ups.

If your grip strength starts failing when doing your sets, this could then become a limiting factor, preventing you from making the progress that you otherwise could.

When your grip strength isn’t as strong, you won’t be able to increase the weight, fully challenging the muscles that you’re targeting.

As such, progress goes stagnant until grip strength is increased.  Deadlifts can help remedy this situation quickly.

7- Builds Both Lower And Upper Body Muscles

Moving along, if one of your top goals with your workout program is hypertrophy, the deadlift is a great exercise to help make this happen.  You’re going to be working both the lower body as well as the upper body while doing this exercise, like few exercises can.

This means that with this one single exercise, you can virtually get a full body workout in a sense. For those who are pressed for time, hitting the gym for five sets of deadlifts and then a few other exercises to hit lagging body parts could easily be done as a complete workout.

This allows you to get in and out in less than 30 minutes.

Deadlifts can also be a great way to break through any strength plateau you might be facing. If other exercises just don’t seem to be helping you see progress, try deadlifting for a while.  Once you’ve done a few weeks of this, go back to that other exercise again and see how much progress has been made.

8- Increases Explosive Power

If you’re someone involved in any type of team activity, explosive power is likely going to be of concern.  Here again, deadlifts tend to shine.

They’ll help you increase the amount of sheer force you can develop quickly, which then means greater power output when doing other activities.

If you really want to focus on this element, you’ll want to ensure that you are using a proper power oriented tempo pattern when doing your deadlifts. This means performing the first portion of that exercise very quickly and then slowly moving through the rest.

Adjusting this tempo factor as you train can make all the difference in the type of results that you see.

9- Doesn’t Require Fancy Gym Equipment

The next great thing about the deadlift is it keeps things simple.  Even if you are working out at a home gym, if you have a barbell and plate weights, you can get this move done.

Unlike the squat, which will require a squat rack or cage if you plan to go heavy, the deadlift doesn’t require this.  That makes it more versatile and a lift that everyone can do, regardless of whether they are working out.

10- Provides A Cardiovascular Challenge

It’s always important when going about your workout program that you are still including some cardiovascular work in the plan. Even if your main goal is muscle building, you still want your heart to stay strong or it could be a limiting factor in terms of how much endurance you have during your sets.

Fortunately, you can kill two birds with one stone by doing deadlifts. This move is not only going to work on the hypertrophy factor directly, but it’s also definitely going to help get your heart rate elevated and keep it there until after the set is finished.

Do four to five sets of deadlifts using a moderate length rest period and you’ll essentially be stimulating a HIIT session, which is one of the best possible cardio varieties that you can do.

For those who hate cardio machines or any other form of cardio training, deadlifts will be an absolute must.

11- Creates A Strong Endorphin Release

One great benefit of strength training that keeps many people coming back for more is the feeling they get after doing an intense workout.  While you may definitely be in discomfort during the actual session, once the session is over, you feel high almost – your stress seems to have dissipated, you feel calm, cool, and collected, and you might find that you think much clearer than before.

This is all thanks to the endorphins that flood your body when intense exercise is performed.  And, when it comes to intensity, nothing beats the deadlift, so you can expect to be experiencing these feelings maximally post-session.

This endorphin release can get very addicting with time so even though you may not like the process of doing deadlifts, you love the end result.

12- Helps Long-Limbed Lifters Gain Great Strength

An often overlooked benefit that you might want to know is that for those who have long-limbs, deadlifts are going to feel far more comfortable than other moves such as squats.  Deadlifts are great for those who have long arms and who may feel as though their body never is moving through it’s natural range of motion with other exercises.

Deadlifts cater to this body type very well, allowing you to finally push your body and lift a maximum weight.

If you’re a long-limbed trainee experiencing problems seeing strength gains, it’s definitely time that you started adding deadlifts into the picture.

13- Helps To Widen Your Back

Finally, the last reason why deadlifts are the greatest exercise ever is because they’ll help widen your back and really finish off your physique.

If you’ve been performing pull-downs, pull-ups, and pull-overs all in effort to widen your back, you’ll be pleased to know that the deadlift can out-work all of these moves for achieving this goal.

Since the more weight you lift in every rep you do, the more muscle you can build overall in most cases, the deadlift easily wins out compared to these standard upper body moves.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do those upper body moves – you should, but the deadlift can really speed up your results at achieving that wide look you’re after.

So there you have the top reasons why the deadlift is the best exercise you can possibly do.  While it does take some time to learn how to do this move properly, it’s well worth the effort.

Deadlift Muscles Worked

Deadlifts will help to strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, quads, as well as your lower back, while also dramatically improving your core strength and even upper body strength.

Muscles Worked by the Deadlift:

Target:

  • Gluteus Maximus

Synergists:

  • Quadriceps
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Hamstring
  • Soleus

Stabilizers:

  • Erector Spinae
  • Trapezius
  • Levator Scapula
  • Rhomboids

Dynamic Stabilizers:

  • Hamstring
  • Gastrocnemius

Antagonist Stabilizers:

  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques
Deadlift Muscles Worked

8 Exercises That Will Improve Your Deadlifts

These exercises consist of both compound as well as isolation based exercises, which will strengthen the muscles that are utilized most when doing deadlifts. Typically when structuring your workout program session, since deadlifts are still the primary move you are trying to gain strength with and are so intense themselves, you’ll still want to place them first. Then, once you’re finished with those, you can follow up with some of the exercises noted below. This will form a complete workout session that will have you seeing results before you know it.

Let’s go over what these are so that you can ensure you aren’t missing out on them as well.

1- Deficit Deadlifts

Deficit Deadlift

The first great exercise to include in your protocol is the deficit deadlift.  This move is very similar to the regular style deadlift only rather than standing on flat ground, you’re standing up on a step or block of some sort.  Make sure that your full body weight is supported by this and then move through the deadlift.

This will help assist with your regular deadlifting because you’ll achieve a greater range of motion while doing this exercise, working your muscles to their full capacity.  It also helps you learn how to move through the full range of motion better, ensuring that you do see optimal results with each and every rep you do when you’re back doing your normal style deadlifts.

Just be sure when performing this exercise that you do lighten the weight while doing it.  You’ll find you’re not nearly as strong in that fully lowered position, therefore you need to ensure that you can maintain proper form. Adjusting the weight will allow for this.

2- Farmer’s walk

Farmers Walk

The farmer’s walk strengthens your grip by working your wrists, hands, forearms, and back in unison.

Your muscles are going to respond best to continual variety and constant challenges, so by adding these different moves into your protocol, you’ll keep your muscles guessing what’s coming next.

Furthermore, this is also a great movement for working on your balance capability, so will have excellent transfer over benefits to not just the deadlift, but all the other exercises you do throughout your workout program.

3- Good Mornings

Barbell Good Morning

The next exercise to get into your workout routine is the good morning.  Good mornings are great for strengthening the muscles running up and down the spinal column, which will be heavily involved whenever you’re performing deadlifts as well.

Good mornings are also good for building balance and agility also, so can come in very helpful when doing deadlifts.

When doing these, remember lighter weight is typically better. These can place you at a risk for injury if you aren’t careful to use absolutely perfect form, so go lighter and perform a few more reps.

You still definitely want to be fully challenging yourself, but at the same time, not straining your back.

4- Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging Leg Raises

The third move to get into your protocol plan is the hanging leg raise. Just as with squats, a strong core will be critical when deadlifting. In fact, most of those who deadlift heavy notice that their core muscles are already built up very well, simply from doing that move.

Whether you realize it or not, your core is going to be very engaged in the exercise whenever you’re doing deadlifts.  As such, the stronger it is, the better your performance will be.

Hanging leg raises are perfect for building up a strong core. They take utmost strength to keep the body still and avoid using momentum as you lift the legs upward toward the hands.

If you can’t quite do these using good form, you can perform lying leg raises until you can.   Avoid using the captains chair however as with that back pad right against you, it’ll take away much of the core strength that’s needed to lift the legs upward.

5- Hip Thrusts

Barbell Hip Thrust

Hips thrusts are the next exercise to have in the protocol if you want to build up your deadlifts.  This move is primarily a glute and hamstring focused movement, both of which are utilized when doing deadlifts as well.

When performing your hips thrusts, you want to really focus on squeezing straight up through the glute muscles only. It’s very easy to ‘cheat’ this move, using your quads and hamstrings to a large degree.

While it’s likely that the hamstrings will come into play to some extent, they shouldn’t be the primary muscle driving the movement.

Do this move with a barbell across your hips, using a pad if necessary.

6- Shrugs

Barbell Shrug

Shrugs are the next move that you may want to get into your program plan to help assist your deadlifts, along with helping you build the most aesthetic physique possible as well.

Shrugs will hit your trap muscles, which are going to come into play and help you hold that heavy weighted barbell as you rise up through the movement.

Heavy barbell shrugs are a great exercise to add to the tail end of your workout session, whether done on a deadlifting day itself or done on a back or shoulder day instead.

You’ll want to do a few more reps whenever you’re performing shrugs as this muscle tends to be more of an endurance one.  Aim for sets of 15-20 reps for best results.

7- Hamstring Curls

Lying Dumbbell Leg Curl

Because your hamstrings will be working hard as you move through the deadlift exercise, you want to be sure they aren’t the weakest link.

While the best exercises for strengthening the hamstrings will always be the compound movements – squats, deadlifts themselves, lunges, and so forth, you shouldn’t completely neglect hamstring curls.

This isolation move is great when performed at the very end of your workout session to help fully exhaust the hamstring muscle, bringing it to that full state of fatigue where you see remarkable strength progress.

Consider doing single leg hamstring curls as you add them into your protocol in effort to ensure no muscular imbalances exist.

Hamstring curls can be performed towards the end of the session as well, once all the rest of your lower body work is done.

8- Step Ups

Dumbbell Step-Up

Finally, step-ups are the last exercise that you’ll want to consider adding into the equation.  Step-ups are great because they’ll work the hamstrings, glutes, and quads, all in one single movement, while also bringing the core into play.

Basically, they’ll hit many of the same exercises that the basic deadlift does, only in a totally different movement pattern.

You can do this exercise with a barbell or by holding a set of dumbbells, whichever manner is most comfortable for you. Just do be sure that as you perform them, you aren’t ever adopting a forward lean as this can quickly become very stressful on your lower back, setting you up for an injury.

So there you have a closer look at the top eight exercises that you should be doing while aiming to strengthen your deadlift exercise.  Together, along with deadlifts, you can be sure that you see the best overall progress towards building the strong and powerful lower body you desire.

Remember that you shouldn’t ever add all of these moves into your workout program at once, but rather cycle through them, adding them over time as you go along to keep your muscles responding.

Bonus Tip – Pause Deadlifts

If you having a hard time passing any particular part of the deadlift try decrease the weights and perform deadlifts with a pause in the position you’re having trouble with. This will help you increase your strength at that particular section of the lift.