Deadlifts have been considered one of the essential bodyweight exercises for building a solid core, leg, and back muscles. Unlike many heavy weightlifting exercises, deadlifts focus more on stabilizing the spine and strengthening the whole body than muscular development.
What is a Deadlift?
The deadlift is an exercise that involves lifting a weighted bar, barbell or other weight from the floor with straight arms to shoulder level. Although the weight and stance are the same in all varieties of deadlifts, differences exist in how long one will maintain an upright posture and either stand on the balls of their feet or elevate their heels. Deadlifts can be done for performance or for strengthening purposes.
What is the difference between a deadlift and a Romanian deadlift?
A deadlift is just a regular deadlift, while the Romanian deadlift is slightly more focused on working the lower back muscles. The difference lies in the range of motion at which each is done. In Regular deadlifts, the lifter will barbell row the weight up to their knees and then curl up to lockout.
There will be no curling of the torso to lockout position in Romanian deadlifts. Instead, the lifter will keep their back straight while holding the weight steady at their knees. Their back will be levelling with their hips at this point, hence the name Romanian deadlift. This technique is advantageous to some lifters because it gives them more time to engage and control their lower back muscles.
What is a barbell deadlift?
The barbell deadlift is one of the most common varieties of the deadlift. It is performed by grabbing a pair of two-handed barbells, called a trap bar, with straight arms and then standing under the bar.
The barbell deadlift targets the back muscles and is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises. It can be performed using heavy weights to build muscle or lighter weights for repetition.
Are deadlifts bad for you?
Deadlifts are considered to be one of the most effective strength training exercises. They can build muscles and provide cardio benefits. However, deadlifting while standing on the balls of your feet or elevating your heels is not as safe as other deadlift variations, such as sumo deadlift, according to some research studies. In addition, if you do a lot of deadlifts, you may increase your risk for back injuries.
What muscles does a deadlift work?
The deadlift works out all the muscles in the body. Because it is highly effective and provides dynamic strength benefits, it should be included in most people’s workout routines. The biggest muscle groups affected by deadlifts include:
One of the significant muscles targeted by deadlifts is the buttocks or gluteal muscles. As a result, your glutes will be more toned and have better shape after you start doing them more often.
Because deadlifts are often done at the end of a workout, this means that calves will be working along with glutes for the entire duration of your workout.
While most people think that hamstrings are only worked out when you do regular squats, deadlifts can also target them.
Deadlifts work out the back muscles. These include both extensor and flexor muscles of the back and trapezius muscle groups in your neck and upper back.
The deltoid muscles work out during the deadlift and provide great strength, endurance, and muscle-building benefits to the shoulders and arms.
Many people become more robust in their hips after they begin doing deadlifts.
How much should you deadlift?
First, figure out your one-rep max or 1RM. This means you will have to do a couple of warm-up sets before you finally perform the maximal number of reps you can manage with good form. This is to work on your technique and practice to be more likely to succeed when you attempt a complete set.
Then, decide how much weight you will use for each set. This is where you need to be careful. Because deadlifting involves some risk of back injury, it is best to start with a lower weight, such as 60% or 70% of your 1RM.
After several weeks of doing 1 or 2 sets per week, assess whether you need to increase the number of sets or repeat the same set amount and weight until you can use 80% or 90% of your 1RM.
Is one set of deadlifts enough?
If you can take the weight off the floor and perform a rep, then, by all means, you should continue with one set of deadlifts each week. It will help your body adapt to the deadlift, and you will more likely be able to do one repetition at the end of your sets. The best way to know if you need a higher volume or lower weight is to assess where you are at in your training program for deadlifts.
How many calories does deadlifting burn?
Outdoor activities such as running, walking, and biking are often thought to burn more calories than they do.
However, deadlifting is still one of the most calorie-dense exercises you can do. If you have been doing heavy deadlifts for many weeks already and you’re well into your workout routine, then, by all means, continue with your usual workout plan and increase your number of sets.
However, if you are starting, feel free to do at least two sets of deadlifts each week. This should help your body adapt to the deadlift, and you will be able to increase the number of reps you can manage with good form.
How to improve grip strength for a deadlift?
If you have been doing deadlifts for a while now and struggling to hold on to your barbell, you may want to incorporate some grip strengthening exercises into your routine.
Deadlifts are notoriously hard on the hands, leading to poor form and an increased risk of back injury due to repetitive stress injuries. If you want to prevent these injuries, then, by all means, carry out some strength training exercises that focus on your grip.
One exercise is called the pinch grip deadlift. You can do this exercise by grasping two dumbbells, one in each hand.
You can perform wall squats without the barbell by doing them off a sturdy bench or box.
You can also do some pinch grip hang cleans to build up your grip strength and help prevent your back from becoming injured while doing deadlifts.
Why do deadlifts hurt my back?
Deadlifts are stiff on your back due to the weight you’re lifting and the positioning of your body while performing them.
If you’re doing a deadlift with a high amount of weight and have poor form, this could cause severe damage to your vertebrae and discs in your spine. This is not only dangerous, but it will also negatively affect your back muscles and prevent you from achieving optimal results with any other exercise.
When performing a deadlift, use proper form and safe weight. Start with the right volume of weight for at least 3 to 4 weeks. Then, assess whether you need a higher or lower weight. Try the same amount of reps with that new weight before increasing it again.
If you are using a barbell, make sure it’s not rolling on your back due to the way you set it up or an uneven bar. Ensure that the bar is centered in the rack, with no extra space on either side.
As a general rule of thumb, keep your back from sagging and avoid letting it bend too much when lifting. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart for leverage and to help you maintain balance.
How do Romanian deadlifts work?
Romanian deadlifts are a variation of the regular deadlift that involve standing on one leg and lifting weights off the ground with your other leg. It is often referred to as a high-pull or standing Romanian deadlift.
Romanian deadlifts are done with a wider stance than traditional deadlifts. You can also adjust your grip width depending on the weight you’re using at the time.
For beginners, perform the regular deadlift. Gradually increase your range of motion and take a wider stance before switching to Romanian deadlifts. Beginners should start out doing a set of 10 reps with ankle weights on and then make the transition to the Romanian style after two weeks.
For advanced lifters, add a second set of Romanian deadlifts to your workout plan and increase the number of reps you perform from 10 to 15. Gradually increase your range of motion and take a wider stance before eventually switching to Romanian deadlifts.
More on Deadlifts
- Beginners Guide to the Deadlift
- Perfecting the Deadlift
- A Deeper Look at the Deadlift
- Romanian Deadlift (RDL) – The Best Exercise you’re Not Doing
- Variations of Romanian Deadlifts (RDL)
If you have any questions on the above or would like some advice on how we can help you don’t hesitate, visit on of our gyms in:
Sign up to a 30-day trial and try us out for yourself.