Fitness

Mastering the Deadlift: Techniques, Muscles Worked, and Variations

Deadlifts are a staple if you want to get stronger and more muscular. Nothing beats it. Whether you perform it on a leg or back day, it is the best muscle builder out there. It involves all muscles in our body to perform it. However, it requires an optimal technique. Let’s discuss what all muscles do deadlifts actually work out. A proper deadlift technique will also be discussed. 

1. The Optimal Technique

what muscles do deadlifts workout?
By Alora Griffiths/ Unsplash copyrights 2018

Know how to perform a conventional deadlift correctly. Any form of exercise is a must before loading it with heavy weights. Let’s discuss each cue one by one. 

1.1 The Set-Up 

A deadlift is a natural movement that the body does. However, there are a few things to keep your mind on when setting up for it. 

  1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. But you can alter it according to your needs.
  2. Make sure that you are standing in the middle of the barbell. Remember to keep the barbell over your mid-foot.
  3.  Hip-Hinge slightly forward while maintaining a neutral back position. Grab the bar from just outside of where your legs are.

1.2 The Grip

what muscles do deadlifts workout?
By Victor Freitas/ Unsplash copyrights 2018

There are three ways to grip the bar while performing deadlifts. These are all equally good and it depends on personal preference.

  1. Overhand grip: This is the most basic kind of grip. When the bar is grabbed with your palms facing directly toward you, it’s an overhand grip. Basically, your hands are pronated.
  2. Mixed grip: This is a widely used grip. In this, your one hand is pronated and the other hand is supinated. One palm is facing towards you and the other is away from you. It depends on you which arm you want to supinate or pronate. However, it’s recommended to switch to avoid muscle imbalances. 
  3. Hook Grip: This is the same as the overhand grip. The difference here is that your hands grab the bar just like a hook. Rest the barbell on your fingers with your thumb sandwiching between the bar and fingers.

1.3 The Movement

After setting up, lift the bar up. Move the barbell up so that it is almost grazing your shins. Do it while maintaining the hinge position. When the bar reaches just above your knees, push your hip forward. Do so, such that the barbell slides on your thighs. 

At last, stand completely straight with the bar in your hands. To end the movement, slowly decedent with the bar while maintaining a hinge. In the end, drop the bar on the floor gently.

1.4 Visualization is Key

If you don’t visualize it the right way, you will not be able to reap all of its benefits. 

Imagine you are pushing the ground away while you are performing a deadlift. This helps you to engage your quadriceps the right way. This also would prevent you from rounding your back too much. 

2. What Muscles Do Deadlifts Workout?

Now that you have complete knowledge of how to perform deadlifts, let’s discuss its target muscles. Generally, deadlifts involve every muscle in your body to do it correctly. It involves your back muscle, spine, bicep, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, and a little bit of quads. However, the primary muscles that are targeted are given below.

2.1 The Hamstrings

The most crucial muscle in the deadlifts is your hamstring. They could be considered the prime movers for a deadlift. They tense up while you set up and provide a strong base for your deadlifts.

2.2 The Glutes

All the power that you need for the deadlift is generated from your glutes. It is involved heavily in the lift, especially after the bar moves above the knees. A person who deadlifts a heavier weight would automatically have strong glutes. They help fire up the squats too. 

2.3 The Lower Back and Erector Spinae

A strong lower back is a must in the deadlifts. When you go heavier on deadlifts, your erector spinae is involved heavily. It helps your spine to hold a neutral position throughout the lift. Your lower back also helps the erector spinae in holding the back in a flat and neutral position.

2.4 Quadriceps and Upper Back

These muscles are not involved heavily in the deadlift. However, they become essential as they provide stability to our bodies. While performing deadlifts, the upper back and quads need to be tensed up and tight.

3. Ways to Deadlift

There are three ways to perform a deadlift. These are performed to target some specific muscles of the body as needed.

3.1 Conventional Deadlifts

As the name suggests, this is the primary way to perform a deadlift. It lays the foundation of a strong body. These are mainly done to train the hamstrings and lower back.

3.2 Sumo Deadlifts

What muscles do desdlifts workout?
By Alora Griffiths/ Unsplash copyrights 2018

The sumo deadlift is performed in order to train the quadriceps. Due to its wide stance, your legs are involved heavily in this movement.

3.3 Trap-bar Deadlifts

what muscles do deadlifts workout?
By joe mcferrin/ Unsplash copyrights 2023

These are performed with a bar known as a trap bar, hence the name. These are mainly performed in order to train the trapezius muscles at the back of your neck.

3.4 Romanian/Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 

The Romanian deadlift is done in order to purely focus on the hamstrings. These are the primary builders of the hamstrings. These train hamstrings in an extended position.

4. Conclusion

In order to build your body, these exercises should be progressively overloaded along with proper nutrition. Perform deadlifts consistently white perfecting your technique every time you lift.

I’m a Physics graduate with a keen interest towards fitness. I have a two year experience in the gym. Before that I used to jog and lost about 10 kgs just by optimising my diet. I have done my fare share of research on fitness and muscle building.

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