By Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, Nutritious Life Certified trainer
The deadlift is an effective full-body exercise. Not only will it help improve your athletic performance in any sport you play, it will also help you lift things in daily life, whether it’s groceries, kids, or luggage. See? Effective.
And from a full-body fitness perspective, the deadlift recruits many muscle groups. It works your hamstrings, glutes, adductor muscles (inner thighs), calves, and even your quads as you extend back to a standing position. You need to engage the muscles of your upper, mid, and lower back, too, along with your core, which keeps you stable throughout the movement. You also recruit your shoulders and forearms to support the weight.
But it’s important to make sure you know how to do a deadlift properly (shown here). Otherwise, you risk hurting your back.
How to Do a Deadlift the Right Way
- Line the weight up between your heels.
- Stand up tall.
- Keep your feet flat and straight.
- Hinge forward with a straight (not rounded) back to grab the weight.
- Maintaining a straight line from your head to your hips, create tension in the shoulders by pretending to break the weight.
- Stand up tall, squeezing glutes, driving heels into the ground, keeping the weight close to your body, and engaging your core.
- Lower down to tap the floor with weight.
- Come right back up.
Again, it’s crucial to keep proper form during this exercise to prevent injury, especially to your lower back. And don’t stress: This is a hard exercise to master, so it’s okay to start with a low weight, a medicine ball, or even no weight at all to practice the hinge forward motion (which is very different from a squat!).
As you advance, you can increase your weight and/or reps. You can also try different variations by using a kettlebell, barbell, or hexagonal trap bar. Once you learn how to do a deadlift properly, don’t be surprised how much a couple of sets can make you sweat.
(Video: Robin Kaiden)