Barbell Deadlifts

Image of how to do deadlifts


Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Hamstrings

Equipment: Barbell

Level: Intermediate

What are Barbell Deadlifts?

Barbell deadlifts are often referred to as “the king of all exercises” and for good reason, continue reading and you’ll soon find out why.

Gym goers either love or hate barbell deadlifting. They love it because of its many benefits, but hate it because it is a challenging, energy-demanding exercise. The movement simulates real-life activity such as bending over and picking something up and as a result of that it stresses multiple muscle groups in both the upper and lower body. Barbell deadlifts affects the body in many ways because it is a functional exercise that will encourage muscle growth and strength and also decrease your risk for injury and back pain.

However, if not done properly (many people don’t know how to do deadlifts) serious injury such as a herniated disc can occur. Follow these steps below for the proper way to deadlift

Muscles Worked in Barbell Deadlifts

Muscles worked in deadlifts


primary: Forearms, Trapiziums, Quadriceps, Glutes,
secondary: Latissimus dorsi, Hamstrings

Benefits of Barbell Deadlifts

More Muscles Worked

Barbell Deadlifts work more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. It engages all of the major muscle groups so if you need to do one exercise, this is the one to do. The Deadlift works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles.

Prevents Injury

The barbell deadlift can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles around critical ligaments and tendons. Supporting joints with strong muscles is critical to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back.

Cheap and Easy

A lot of exercises require a lot of equipment, such as specially designed shoes. But not the barbell deadlift, all you need is just a bar with some weight then pick it up, simple.

It’s Safe

Barbell Deadlifts are also one of the safest weightlifting exercises you can perform. You aren’t going to get pinned under the weight or have to worry about it pulling you over backwards. If you get into trouble, you can simply drop the barbell. You also don’t have to have a spotter to perform this exercise.

Better Posture

Deadlifting increases your core strength and adds to core stability. Performing Deadlifts targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities.

Improved Grip Strength

Barbell deadlifts are known for their ability to build huge amounts of grip strength, and for good reason. Your fingers are the only things connecting you to the weight of the bar so as a result your forearms have to work incredibly hard as you progress in weight to keep the bar from falling out of your hands.

How to do Barbell Deadlifts


  1. 1. Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder-width allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Typically, you would use an alternating grip.
  2. 2. With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
  3. 3. After the bar passes the knees pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  4. 4. Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

Repeat for desired reps.

If you need a barbell one can be bought here: Barbells


Keep your head in line with the rest of your spine; don’t arch neck to look forward or curl chin into chest.

For strength, do 3 to 5 sets of 5 reps, building up to a heavier weight.

For endurance, do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Mistakes commonly made in the barbell deadlift

Bar is Too Far From Body

When performing the barbell deadlift the bar should be close to the body at all times for maximum lift efficiency and safety.

Too Heavy Weights

When you are starting out you should practice with a light weight until ​your form and technique is good. Another person training in the gym or a personal trainer can keep you in check for the correct form.

Rounding Back or Shoulders

While deadlifting you should keep your back straight with no rounding at the spine and shoulders. You should keep your hips down, butt out and brace your abs to support your straight back.

Lifting With the Arms or Back

The key to the barbell deadlift lifting process for beginners is to lift with your hips and legs, not your shoulders, back, or arms, though their stabilizing role is still important. You should keep your arms straight throughout the deadlift as bending your arms can strain your biceps.

Safety when performing barbell deadlifts

Barbell deadlifts are an advanced weightlifting exercise. You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if it is suitable for you if you have any injuries or conditions affecting your legs, knees, ankles, hips, back, shoulders, or wrists. Use light weights to start with and stop if you feel any pain. If you are pregnant, it is best to use lighter weights and you may want to use a wider stance.

Variations of Deadlifts

Dumbbell Deadlifts

The main difference between dumbbell deadlifts and barbell deadlifts is that the weights used for dumbbell deadlifts are not held together as one weight as their separate, therefore the exercise develops your coordination as well as your muscles.

Dumbbell deadlifts also put less stress on your back because you don’t have to reach over your legs to get to the weight.

If you need a dumbbell one can be purchased here: Dumbbells

Image of how to do dumbbell deadlifts

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells in front of hips, palms facing thighs.

2. Squeeze shoulder blades together to keep spine in a neutral position. Inhale, first hinging at the hips then knees to lower dumbbells along the front of legs, pausing when torso is parallel to the ground.

3. Exhale and drive through the mid-foot to return to standing, maintaining a neutral spine and keeping dumbbells close to the body throughout. Fully extend hips and knees, squeezing glutes at the top.

Repeat for desired reps.

Write below in the comments your opinion on the barbell deadlift, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

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