Great question of the day today. What muscles do the
Now, I have a bit of a confession. I love the deadlift. I
have heard people describe the squat as the king of all exercises, and I would
have to disagree. The deadlift is king.
You see you can cheat a squat by doing half reps, but you can’t cheat a deadlift. If you half rep a deadlift it doesn’t count. It’s all or nothing, that bar either comes up or it doesn’t, there is no halfway.
Not only that, but it works almost everything!
The posterior chain
The deadlifts crushes the muscles of the posterior chain. These include the calves, the hamstrings, and the gluteal muscles. During the deadlift, the hips need to extend from a flexed position. This means that the muscles of the posterior chain are working overtime to drive the movement and extend the hips.
The work of these muscles can be maximized by deadlift variations such as Romanian deadlifts, or stiff legged deadlifts. These variations really isolate the movement of the hips, absolutely destroying the glutes and hamstrings.
With a traditional deadlift, there is still quite a
significant amount of knee bend. This means to get the bar off the floor and
extend the knees to full extension, the quads have to work HARD!
You will notice that often training the deadlift can improve
your squat because it helps develop quad strength that much.
One of the most important components of good deadlift technique is maintaining a neutral spine. This means that the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, the oblique’s, transvers abdominus) and the spinal erectors (erector spinae, multifidus) are working overtime to keep the spine in a safe and neutral position.
This means it works the core muscles in a really functional
and efficient manner.
The deadlift is a
great exercise to train the muscles of the entire back.
The lats help provide stability to the spine, and actually
hold your shoulder to the rest of the body. Which means that they are
maintaining a lot of tension to stay tight and are doing an incredible amount
of work to keep the bar drifting away from your body.
All the muscles of the upper back (Rhomboids, Traps, Rear
Deltoids) are working extremely hard to keep your upper back from rounding, and
are also required to keep the shoulder blades back and together at the top of
Seriously, if you want a big back deadlift heavy and deadlift often!
One of the hardest parts of the deadlift is actually holding
onto the bar. The muscles of the forearms are under an incredible amount of
tension to maintain a strong grip, and as such, get a serious amount of work
So…. To answer the question?
What muscles do deadlifts work?
Everything. Seriously, if you find a man that can deadlift 500lb’s I can guarantee he is going to be built like a proverbial sh** house.
Deadlifts make your entire body big and strong.