What Muscles Are You Working When You Do Deadlifts?

Pursuing an active lifestyle can bring all of the emotions. Workouts are fun, frustrating, and challenging. Because our responsibilities keep us so busy during the day, we want the most bang for our buck in terms of our workouts. When it comes to weight lifting, the perfect move to get the most out of your workout is undeniably the deadlift. This compound move uses almost every muscle in your body without momentum, isolating the muscles and forcing them to do more work. Almost every strength routine includes the deadlift because of the way that it strengthens your whole body.


Barbend dates this move back as far as the 1700s, with many lifts resembling it. Where its name came from, though, seems to be related to literally picking up dead weight from bending at the waist to standing. However, that description simplifies this move. A deadlift mimics movements we do every day, making this lift very functional and important for our bodies. Having a strong lower body, lower back, and core will benefit us for years to come. Having strength in these parts of our body will lower our risk for injury and keep us enjoying all of the day-to-day activities we love. But many wonder about the specific muscles that are worked during a lift like this.

The muscles deadlift addresses

In terms of benefits for your body, there is perhaps no better move than the deadlift. Deadlifting works the muscles in your core, your legs, your glutes, and your lower back (via Fitbod). Specifically, deadlifts address your hamstrings, back, hips, and core. Those who want to focus on their glutes benefit from this workout the most. It is credited with improving posture and spine alignment. 


To perform a deadlift, pick up a barbell with your back flat. Then, in one fluid motion, you stand up, thrusting your hips forward to push back to an upright position (via Healthline). Experts warn that proper form is way more important than the number of reps. If your form is incorrect, you risk the threat of injury. Trainers recommend starting small and slowly building up to three sets of five. By completing the deadlift correctly, you are addressing muscles all over your body, and you'll feel the benefits after two weeks of lifting consistently.

Modifications and alternatives to the deadlift

Like most workouts, there are modifications and variations that those on a strength journey can try, as there are many different kinds of deadlifts that work different muscles. Two modifications include the sumo deadlift and kettlebell lifting. The sumo deadlift reduces pressure on your lower back, and using a kettlebell will help you ease yourself into this type of compound move (via Women's Health). These alternatives will not only improve strength but will also aid in weight loss.


With any exercise, you should consult with your doctor. If you get cleared to try deadlifts and similar lifts, stay consistent and keep pushing to increase the weight at safe intervals. If you belong to a gym, it's recommended that you meet with the gym's personal trainer to make sure your form is correct. Above all, enjoy this compound move — you'll reap the benefits of doing a deadlift consistently, and this will aid in your strength and flexibility for years to come.