The deadlift is a weight lifting exercise where you lift the barbell placed in front of you from the ground to hip height, using the back, legs and forearms.
One of the three most important strength training lifts, the deadlift is a compound exercise, that is, it uses multiple muscles in the body to perform the correct movement.
In fact, this important lift uses a large number of individual muscles, more than nearly every other lift. This makes it one of the best possible weight lifting exercises to choose when looking to building strength, size, tone or muscular endurance.
Which muscles does the deadlift use?
The main muscles used in deadlifting are the back (erector spinae), legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteous maximus), calves (soleus) abdomen and forearms. This lift also helps to improve grip strength.
Most other muscles in the body are also involved acting as fixators, used for stability control. These stabilising muscles include the upper back (trapezius, rhomboids), obliques (side muscles), shoulders (deltoids) and neck.
The deadlift does not develop the legs as much as the squat, but it uses more muscles throughout the body overall.
Benefits of the deadlift
This lift builds strong back muscles and teaches how to keep lower back rigidity and the correct neutral positioning of the spine when lifting a heavy load.
The deadlift is perhaps the best overall strength training exercise. It is a test of pure strength because it involves a single upward lift of a dead weight, with no preparatory lowering phase involved.
History of the deadlift
The deadlift is one of the oldest weight lifting exercises in existence. It has always been used throughout history as a test of strength.
In ancient times, the lift was done with a large rock which was lifted to waist height. This reminds us of the ‘Atlas Stones’ event in the Strongman strength competition today. In modern times, deadlifting has been used to build muscle rather than simply as a test.
The deadlift is one of the three lifts that is used in powerlifting competitions (along with the squat and the bench press). During a power lifting event, the winner is the athlete who can lift the most total weight across the three lifts.