You may find affiliate links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Why Trust Us
The benefits of deadlifts and what role the exercises should play in any strength-building regimen are hard to underestimate.
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the erector spinae in the lower back, the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps in the legs, and the traps and rhomboid muscles in the upper back.
They are highly effective exercises for building strength and muscle mass and for improving overall fitness.
The deadlift is among the most popular exercises in bodybuilding, powerlifting, Crosslifters, and other weight-lifting circles.
This article discusses the benefits of deadlifts and why they should be an integral part of any weight-lifting and strength-building regimen.
The benefits of deadlifts and why you should embrace and adopt them
You can perform deadlifts with different equipment, among which a loaded barbell is the most popular.
Conventional deadlifts involve lifting a loaded barbell off the floor. You stand with feet at shoulder-width and the hands placed just outside the legs. You bend at the hips and knees to lower the torso and grasp the bar, and then use the legs, hips, and lower back to lift the weight off the floor and stand upright.
Deadlifts may seem simple, but they can be challenging exercises, especially for beginners or athletes with preexisting back pain or injuries. They require proper form and technique to do them correctly.
But when done with proper form, the benefits of deadlifts are massive.
Below are some benefits of deadlifts and why they are worth considering for your strength training regimen.
Capable of developing hip extensor strength
The hip extensors include the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductor magnus. They are responsible for extending the hip joint and are essential for walking, running, jumping, climbing, and other movements.
One of the main benefits of deadlifts is they are excellent exercises for developing strength in the hip extensors.
Deadlifts involve a hip hinge movement pattern, which means that the hips are the primary mover in the exercise. You actively engage your hip extensors when you lift the weight off the ground and extend the hips to bring the weight up.
The movement places a high demand on the glutes, hamstrings, and adductor magnus, making it an effective exercise for developing strength in these muscles.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2009 found that the Romanian deadlift, a variation of the deadlift that emphasizes the hip extensors, was effective for improving hip extensor strength in both trained and untrained individuals. (1)
Another study published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2012 compared the muscle activation of the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and erector spinae muscles during three different exercises, including the deadlift. (2)
The study found that the deadlift produced the highest muscle activation in the gluteus maximus and erector spinae muscles, essential hip extensors.
Can improve vertical jump performance
One of the significant benefits of deadlifts is their ability to improve vertical jump performance.
A vertical jump involves a powerful extension of the hips, knees, and ankles – a movement that requires high levels of lower body strength and power.
Increasing lower body strength can help improve your ability to generate power and force in the hips, knees, and ankles, translating to improved vertical jump performance.
Deadlifts are an excellent exercise for developing lower body strength, particularly in the hip extensors, which are heavily involved in the vertical jump.
Available studies suggest deadlifts can help improve lower body strength and power, positively affecting vertical jump performance.
One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2016 examined the effects of a 10-week deadlift training program on vertical jump performance in collegiate athletes (3).
The results showed significant improvements in maximal strength and power. Vertical jump height also improved. That suggested deadlift training could play a role in a vertical jump training program.
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2017 compared the effects of a six-week training program that included either deadlifts or squats on lower body strength and power in male and female collegiate athletes. The vertical jump performance and lower body strength and power improved significantly in both groups (4).
Capable of developing overall strength
Another of the many benefits of deadlifts is their ability to develop overall strength.
Deadlifts work several major muscle groups, including the back, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
By engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, deadlifts provide a full-body workout leading to overall strength gains.
Deadlifts require a firm grip on the barbell. Your grip strength will improve as you lift heavier weights, which can be handy when doing other exercises that require a firm grip.
Deadlifts are weight-bearing exercises that stimulate muscle growth. Your muscles will adapt and grow stronger as you lift heavier weights, leading to an overall increase in muscle mass.
The movement requires strong core muscles to help maintain proper form and prevent injury. Engaging your core muscles during the lift can help develop overall core strength.
Several studies have examined the effects of deadlifts on overall strength development.
One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2014 compared the effects of deadlift training and squat training on lower body strength in recreationally active young men (5).
The study found that both forms of training led to significant improvements in lower body strength.
Another study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 2017 examined the effects of a 12-week resistance training program that included deadlifts on maximal strength and muscle hypertrophy in trained men (6).
The results showed significant increases in maximal strength and muscle cross-sectional area, indicating that deadlifts can develop overall strength and muscle mass.
Can help Improve posture
Deadlifts target and work the posterior chain muscles, including the erector spinae, rhomboids, and trapezius.
Thus one of the noted benefits of deadlifts is that they can help correct postural imbalances and improve overall posture due to their ability to strengthen the posterior chain muscles.
Engaging your core muscles during the lifting phase of the deadlifts can help improve overall core strength and stability, thereby contributing to better posture.
The deadlift exercises require a neutral spine position throughout the movement, which can help promote proper spinal alignment and posture.
While there seems to be limited scientific research examining the effects of deadlifts on posture, available evidence suggests including the exercises in your workout can help improve posture.
There is limited scientific research specifically examining the effects of deadlifts on posture, but there is some evidence to suggest that deadlifts may be beneficial for improving posture.
One study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science in 2015 showed deadlift training led to a significant decrease in lumbar lordosis angle (a measure of the curvature of the lower spine), indicating an improvement in spinal alignment.
Another study published in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness in 2016 found that one group of participants that performed deadlifts had significant improvements in postural control compared to the group that did not do the deadlift exercise (7).
Deadlifts can help build muscle mass.
One of the many benefits of deadlifts is the capability to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously to help build muscle mass.
Building mass requires you to increase the workload on your muscles. You can load deadlifts with heavier weights as you become stronger, helping to stimulate muscle growth.
Several studies have shown deadlifts to be effective at building muscle mass, making it one of the many proven benefits of deadlifts.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study that concluded that six weeks of deadlift training could increase muscle size and strength in the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps (8).
Another study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine indicated that combining deadlifts with other exercises will increase muscle mass in the legs and trunk (9).
A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation also concluded that deadlifts and other multi-joint exercises can increase muscle mass and strength (10).
Capable of increasing bone density
Deadlifts can help increase bone density through a process called osteogenesis.
Osteogenesis is the development of new bone tissue in response to mechanical stress and weight-bearing exercise.
Deadlifts place significant mechanical stress on the bones. That stimulates osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation.
As a weight-bearing exercise, deadlifts can load the spine and lower body with weight, stimulating bone formation and increasing bone density.
The ability of deadlifts to work multiple muscles and the possibility of progressive overload can all increase the stress on the bones to help encourage bone formation.
Various studies have shown deadlifts to be effective at increasing bone density, making it one of the many proven benefits of deadlifts.
A 16 weeks study of heavy resistance training published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research noted significant increases in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women (11).
Another 16-week study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that resistance training, which included deadlifts, increased bone mineral density in older adults.
A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research concluded that resistance training, including exercises such as deadlifts, can help to increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Such studies prove that higher bone density is one of the many benefits of deadlifts.
Enhances sports performance
Another of the many proven benefits of deadlifts is their ability to enhance sports performance in athletes.
Working many muscle groups simultaneously with deadlifts can lead to increased power output which can be handy in sports that require explosive movements, such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing.
Including deadlifts in your training regimen can help build strength, which can be advantageous in various sporting activities, including football, wrestling, and weight lifting.
Doing deadlifts can boost lower body strength and power, which can help increase speed and agility on the field or court.
Deadlifts can also help reduce the risk of injury during sports and other physical activities due to their ability to improve overall strength and stability.
The grip strength developed through deadlifting can also benefit those in such sporting activities as rock climbing and wrestling.
Several studies are available to support the fact that enhancement in sports performance is one of the many benefits of deadlifts.
An 8-week study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that deadlift training improved sprint performance in young male soccer players (12).
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that adding deadlifts to a strength training program improved jumping and sprinting performance in college basketball players (13).
A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research also concluded that deadlifts and other heavy lifting exercises could improve maximal strength, power, and sprint performance (14).
Deadlifts can help boost cardiovascular health.
As strength training exercises, deadlifts do not provide the same cardiovascular benefits as aerobic exercise.
Deadlifts are high-intensity exercises that can elevate the heart rate. That can improve cardiovascular fitness over time.
Including deadlifts pin your training regimen can help improve circulation Deadlifts by increasing blood flow to the muscles and other tissues. That can improve cardiovascular and overall health.
The rate at which your body burns calories can increase as you do the deadlift exercises, which can help boost cardiovascular health and improve body composition.
Deadlifts may not be the best exercises for boosting cardiovascular health. However, available studies suggest they can help, making them one of the many benefits of deadlifts.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a high-intensity deadlift workout improved cardiovascular function in young men (15).
A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggested that heavy resistance training, including deadlifts, can improve cardiovascular health by increasing maximal oxygen uptake, reducing blood pressure, and improving lipid profiles (16).
It’s worth noting that these studies are limited in their scope, and more research is needed to help get a better understanding of the relationship between deadlifts and cardiovascular health.
Can help increase core strength
Deadlifts require a high degree of stabilization from the core muscles, making them excellent exercises for building core strength due to the increased engagement of the core muscles. Available studies confirm this as one of the proven benefits of deadlifts.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2013 found that performing heavy deadlifts improved core stability and increased the activation of the core muscles (17).
Final words from LiveLIfe
Deadlifts are excellent strength training exercises and the cornerstone of many training regimens.
The exercises can be challenging for many, but they can be a route to achieving your health and fitness goals.
The benefits of deadlifts are hard to ignore, and adopting them as part of your training plans can help boost your chances of success, irrespective of the sports you participate in.
- Martín-Fuentes I, Oliva-Lozano JM, Muyor JM. Electromyographic activity in deadlift exercise and its variants. A systematic review. PLoS One. 2020;15(2):e0229507. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0229507
- Hindle BR, Lorimer A, Winwood P, Keogh JWL. The biomechanics and applications of strongman exercises: a systematic review. Sports Med Open. 2019;5:49. doi:10.1186/s40798-019-0222-z
- Del Vechhio L, Daewoud H, Green S. The health and performance benefits of the squat, deadlift, and bench press. MOJ Yoga Phys Therapy. 2018;3(2):40-47. doi:10.15406/mojypt.2018.03.00042
- Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A. D., Schoenfeld, B. J., Beardsley, C., & Cronin, J. (2015). A comparison of gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis electromyographic activity in the back squat and barbell deadlift. Journal of applied biomechanics, 31(5), 452-458.
- Hardee JP, Lawrence MM, Zwetsloot KA. Effects of a 10-Week Deadlift Training Program on Static and Dynamic Strength and Power Performance in Collegiate Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 May;30(5):1187-94. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001231. PMID: 26595197.
- Adams K, O’Shea JP, O’Shea KL. The Effect of Six Weeks of Squat, Deadlift, or Both on Lower Body Strength and Power. J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Apr;31(4):817-823. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001578. PMID: 28067717
- Andersen, V., Fimland, M. S., Mo, D.-A., & Iversen, V. M. (2014). Comparison of muscle activation and performance during high-intensity squat, deadlift, and split squat exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(11), 3033–3042
- Nóbrega, S. R., Ugrinowitsch, C., Pintanel, L., Barcelos, C., Libardi, C. A., & Aoki, M. S. (2017). Effect of resistance training volume on strength and muscle thickness. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(07), 527–533.
- Saeterbakken, A. H., Fimland, M. S., & Kolnes, M. K. (2019). The effects of grip width on maximal bench press strength and EMG activity in the prime movers. Journal of Human Kinetics, 68, 43–52
- Saeterbakken, A. H., Fimland, M. S., & Kolnes, M. K. (2019). The effect of handgrip width on muscle activation in the latissimus dorsi during the bench press. European Journal of Sport Science, 19(7), 931–936
- Jung, H. Y., Kim, J., Kim, E., Koh, E. K., & Cho, J. (2016). The effect of resistance training including deadlifts on muscle strength and balance in healthy adults: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness, 14(2), 47–53
- Cho, J., Jung, H., Kim, E., Koh, E., & Kim, J. (2017). The effect of deadlift training on lumbar lordosis angle and the posterior chain muscle thickness. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(6), 1075–1078.