Muscles Used • Exercise Type • Form Instruction • Tips and Techniques • Recommended Reps • Common Variations • Substitutions • Equipment Needed
|Calves, Abs, Traps, Forearms, Mid Back|
See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Deadlifts –
Compound Exercise, Pull Movement
Grasp barbell from floor with shoulder width or slightly larger grip. Raise by straightening the knees and pushing the hips forward until vertical.
Tips and Techniques:
The basic grip is overhanded but at higher weights a mixed grip may prove beneficial. The great value of the deadlift to your weight training program is working with those heavy loads – like the Squat, it taxes a great deal of muscle with a heavy load.
Also, like the squat, the deadlift can be confusing at first and difficult exercise to master. It is, however, well worth the effort.
The standard stance has the legs at a little less than shoulder width and the arms moving outside the knees. The Sumo Deadlift variation places the legs outside the shoulders and the arms moving inside the knees. The sumo variation is easier for some builds, typically those with shorter limbs, and can be a little easier on the lower back.
The distance your shins are from the barbell is critical to the exercise and somewhat individual. Generally, you want your shins to be 2-6 inches from the barbell. Another common starting point marker used by trainers is positioning the toes directly underneath the barbell. Experiment with distances to find the one that allows your individual build to best perform the exercise.
Throughout the exercise you want to keep the barbell moving close to the body or brushing along it.
Keep your back slightly arched inwards and straight throughout the exercise. You are bending only at the waist. Keep your head in line with the spine or looking up slightly. Keep the chest out and shoulders back, the arms straight and loose (don’t let the shoulders become involved by rolling or shrugging them).
As you first raise the weight off the floor it is your legs doing all the work (primarily the quads). As the barbell reaches the knees, you want to start moving the hips forward in concert with the legs straightening (bringing in glutes, hams and back).
The exercise is finished as the knees are nearly straight (not locked) and the upper body is vertically aligned with the lower. Do not hyper-extend at the top (push the waist forward and shoulders back).
It can take some practice to get the movement fluid. Do so with light weights. As mentioned, deadlifts are worth the effort. They are a great full-body strength/mass builder. In addition, proper deadlifting is teaching you a valuable life skill – how to safely pick heavy objects up off the floor.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- Sumo Deadlift (see above)
- Trap Bar Deadlift – Same exercise with a trap bar which can make the form a little easier to master
- Stiff-Leg Deadlifts
- Machine-Based Deadlifts – Lever and Smith Machines can provide alternative ways to perform deads
Along with Squats, Deadlifts make up possibly the two best overall mass building exercises. So, substituting isn’t something that should be taken lightly – no exercise will be the same or better. Try the Sumo Deadlift or Trap-Bar Deadlift varieties if you are having troubles with the exercise. Hyperextensions also effectively target the low back.
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