Deadlift workout – a killer exercise for your whole body

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We all know this question that comes up sooner or later during a conversation about working out: “How much do you bench press?”

But lately, another question that I keep hearing more and more is: “How much do you deadlift?”

So it seems the deadlift has finally arrived in many people’s workouts and athletes all over the world started to understand what exceptional results can be achieved by adding deadlifts into their workout routine.

The deadlift is a fantastic exercise that should be part of your full-body workouts at least once a week.

The common belief is still fixed on the old perception that deadlifting only (over-) stresses your lower back and is generally a very “dangerous” exercise to do.

The same critics say it should only be done by very advanced weightlifters.

Others say the deadlift is only an exercise for the lower body and it must always be accompanied by accessory exercises.

Many people still believe that the deadlift is no good thing for the “average athlete”.

But all this is so far from correct!

The deadlift works a multitude of muscles and is one of the best exercises for overall strength and fitness.

It is the perfect exercise to stimulate muscle growth and build muscle mass and it can also be used to burn fat.

Lower body, upper body, core strength, athletic performance, and almost every muscle benefit from the deadlift.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to properly do a deadlift, which muscles it trains, and some tips on how to get the most out of this killer workout!

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If you are unsure about how to deadlift, seek professional advice!

What should I focus on when deadlifting?

There is one very important thing to keep in mind when it comes to deadlifting – just like with any other technically advanced exercise:

Proper form!

If you are unsure about how to deadlift, seek professional advice!

Start out with little weight or even an empty barbell.

Once you have mastered the motion pattern of the deadlift, you can start to add more weight.

But initially start with a lighter weight and put more emphasis on proper form.

There are a few things you should observe when deadlifting to help prevent injury.

First, make sure you warm up before deadlifting. A few minutes of light cardio and some dynamic stretching will help prepare your body for the workout ahead.

Further down we will also discuss what a warmup for a deadlift workout should look like and which exercises best prepare your body for a deadlift workout.

Second, focus on form and technique. This is crucial for preventing injury and getting the most out of your workout.

If you are new to deadlifting, we recommend seeking out help from a trainer or spotter.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Deadlifting is a taxing exercise and it’s okay to ask for assistance if you need it.

A spotter can help you with form and technique and can also assist you with the lift itself if needed.

What should a deadlift look like?

First off – don´t be this guy:

I don´t know what his fitness goal looks like, but he shouldn´t be doing heavy deadlifts that way.

So let’s get into it:

  1. Your stance should be about hip-width, with maximum shoulder width apart.
  2. Lean forward and grip the bar about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Get into a squat position with your shoulders slightly in front of your knees and your hips lower than your shoulders but above your knees.
  4. Make sure that your weight is distributed evenly and find your balance. You should not feel extra pressure on your toes or your heels.
  5. Take one big breath, tighten your core, your arms, your latissimus muscle, and chest muscles.
  6. Keep your back straight all the time!
  7. Now “push away” the floor with your feet and simultaneously raise your hips and shoulders.
  8. Once your legs are straight, push your hips forward and finish the full extension of your hip and knees.
  9. The bar should move as close to your body as possible and in a straight line.
deadlift correct form

Here is an excellent training video on how to do the deadlift:

Does deadlifting build muscle?

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether deadlifting builds muscle.

The answer is yes, yes and yes!

Deadlifting is an excellent exercise for building muscle and strength in your whole body.

When done correctly, deadlifts work many different muscle groups including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, and core.

And when done regularly you will see an increase in muscle mass in several areas of your body.

I would even dare say that a proper deadlift workout is a total body workout on its own!

So – yes! If you are looking to build muscle, we definitely recommend adding deadlifts to your workout routine.

If you are looking to build muscle, we definitely recommend adding deadlifts to your workout routine.

very fit guy deadlifting

How many deadlifts should I do a day?

As the deadlift is such an excellent exercise for a whole set of different muscles this also means that the beginner will feel a proper deadlift workout for a few days.

So start slow and take it easy! Let your body adjust to the intensity of this exercise.

You may want to start with one set of eight to 12 reps.

Of course, it also depends on your overall training frequency.

If you are working out four or five times a week, add deadlifts to two of your training routines.

For the advanced athlete, we recommend including deadlifting in your training two to three times per week. This gives your muscles time to recover in between workouts and helps prevent injury.

As you get stronger, you can increase the number of sets and reps you do.

One thing to keep in mind is that from all compound lifts, deadlifts are probably the most taxing exercise. They require a lot of energy and can be quite demanding on your body.

If you are feeling tired or run down, it’s okay to skip a day or two of deadlifting.

Listen to your body and give yourself the rest you need to stay healthy and injury-free.

strong female athlete deadlifting
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How much should a beginner deadlift?

Very conveniently there does exist an “International Deadlift Strength Standard” both for men and women.

deadlift strength table

Nice!

Take it with a grain of salt and use this table as a rough guideline. But you get the point and you have something to refer to.

What are some alternative exercises to deadlifts?

If you’re looking for some other exercises to add to your routine, here are a few deadlift variations that you can add to your full body workout.

In any case, it is advisable to add different exercises into your workouts. The best program won´t get you anywhere if your training routine becomes boring and repeats itself over and over again.

Sumo Deadlift

The Sumo Deadlift is an excellent exercise to get a variation into your workout. This deadlift variation is different from the conventional deadlift, as this exercise is a knee hinge – unlike the conventional deadlift which is a hip hinge motion.

We could write a whole blog post about the Sumo Deadlift only, so we´ll just keep it short here:

The Sumo Deadlift stance is different:

  • Your feet are more than shoulder width apart and your toes point outwards.
  • Find a good balanced position
  • Now lower your hips and at the same time move your knees outwards. Your hips should never be lower than your knees!
  • With your arms extended grip the bar
  • Tighten your core, glutes, chest muscles, rear delts and keep your back straight!
  • Lift!

This is how a great initial stance for the Sumo Deadlift should look like:

 

female athlete doing sumo deadlift

And here you have a great video, explaining this exercise:

"The deadlift is the ultimate display of strength."

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Kettlebell Deadlift

Not all of us have the privilege to own a competition barbell with a full set of weight plates. But quite often we do have a set of kettlebells at home. For those of us who do, you can add another great exercise to your training routine – the Kettlebell Deadlift.

You can do a Kettlebell Deadlift the conventional way, or you can also do a Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift.

The same movement patterns apply just as if you would do the same exercise with a barbell.

fit lady doing kettlebell deadlifts

Check out this instructional video for the Kettlebell Deadlift here:

And here you have a perfect explanation for the Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift:

You will immediately see the difference between these two exercises.

Romanian Deadlift

This exercise is another nice variation for deadlifting. It has a smaller range of motion as compared to the standard deadlift but exactly this smaller range of motion is what we are looking for when performing the Romanian Deadlift.

Additionally, the Romanian Deadlift starts in an upright standing position whereas the Standard Deadlift starts with the weight on the ground.

Each Deadlift variation is serving a different fitness goal.

Have a look at this comparison between the Standard Deadlift and the Romanian Deadlift:

Straight (Stiff) Leg Deadlift

This exercise might look very similar to the Romanian Deadlift but the Straight Leg Deadlift starts with the weight on the ground – just like the Standard Deadlift.

As the name already tells, your legs will be nearly straight. This will work your hamstrings much more, as you will put more tension on this muscle group.

When doing the Straight Leg Deadlift, don´t expect to lift the same weight as you would with the standard version of this exercise.

female athlete performing a straight leg deadlift

Banded Deadlift

And finally let me introduce the Banded Deadlift! If ther is no equipment at all available to you – no barbell, no weight plates, no kettlebell – you can still perform a nice training routine without any of the mentioned equipment!

All you need is a standard workout resistance band. Choose a resistance level that suits your needs and perform your deadift workout that way.

female athlete performing banded deadlifts

Which grip on the barbell is correct for deadlifting?

You might have seen different styles of grips on the barbell already and you might be asking yourself why people have one hand turned around.

The simple answer is: grip the bar just the way that suits you best! There is no right or wrong – it´s simply personal preference…

pic of alternative grip on barbell for deadlifts

Before the workout

A good deadlift workout should start with a proper warmup which could include some light cardio, jumping jacks, squats, leg swings, good mornings, and kettlebell swings.

Do two to three warmup sets.

The workout itself should have a preloading phase where you start with lighter weights and then work your way up by gradually adding more weight until you have reached your workout weight.

The workout

After your warmup and preloading phase you are now set for the workout.

You found your workout weight, your muscles are warm – you are ready!

You shouldn´t have to decrease your weight during the workout. This would indicate that you might have overestimated your abilities.

If that happens take it as a learning to your next training session.

Post workout

Don´t forget to stretch! Use the foam roll to relieve your muscles after training.

Most of us “forget” about the post workout stretching and rolling routine, but it is really important if you want your muscles to perform at peak level again next time.

Plus, the more you stretch the more you will maintain a greater range of motion inyour muscle groups.

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Deadlift Workouts

Workout 1: Legs will burn!!!

Within one minute perform:

  • 3 heavy deadlifts, followed by
  • Rope jumps until the minute is over – then
  • Two minutes rest

Repeat 10 times!

Workout 2: Keep Adding Weight!

To perform this workout routine you should know what your one rep maximum weight (ORP) is!

Time for each round is 2:30 minutes

  • Round 1: 8 reps with 50% of ORP
  • Round 2: 6 reps with 60% of ORP
  • Round 3: 4 reps with 70% of ORP
  • Round 4: 2 reps with 80% of ORP
  • Round 5: 1 rep with 90% of ORP

Workout 3: Total Destruction!

Weight for intermediate men 80kg/175lbs

Weight for intermediate women 50kg/110lbs

Perform as many rounds as possible within 20 minutes:

One round: 12 Deadlifts – followed by 400m run

Conclusion

A deadlift workout is a great way to build muscle and strength as it stresses both upper body and lower body at the same time.

The exercise itself is already a full body workout. If you haven´t tried this exercise yet it is high time to do so!

There are many different ways to perform the deadlift, so deadlifting never gets boring as you will always find new variations for your training routine.

Be sure to warm up properly before performing any type of deadlift, and always stretch afterwards.

Finally, see what high profile athletes and coaches have to say about the deadlift:

“If you want to get strong, lift heavy things.” -Brooks Kubik

“The deadlift is the king of all exercises.” -Mark Rippetoe

“The deadlift is the absolute best exercise for building massive, strong quads.” -Chad Wesley Smith

“The deadlift is the most athletic lift in existence.” -Dave Tate

“The deadlift is the mother of all exercises and should never be ignored.” -Bret Contreras

“The deadlift is the best exercise for building sheer muscle mass.” – Dorian Yates

“The deadlift is the most powerful movement in weightlifting, period.” – Louie Simmons

“The deadlift is the single greatest exercise ever invented.” – Larry Wheels

“There’s no better exercise than a heavy deadlift for building total-body muscle and strength.” – Dan John

“The deadlift is the ultimate display of strength.” – Mike Mentzer

“The deadlift is the fundamental movement pattern upon which all other exercises are based.” – Gray Cook

I have nothing more to add apart from: If you enjoyed this article please like and share!

If you are interested inKettlebell Shoulder Workouts then check out this article here!

Also check out Tamara Walcotts powerlifting record with 639-pound deadlift!

And as always: have a great day! 🙂

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