In this video it's described as a standing leg press to the knees, followed by back movement.

I have a question about the standing leg press part.

How much of that motion is coming from the legs vs pulling with the back? My understanding is that should be entirely the legs. Lately, I've been doing deadlifts but I do feel my back and legs working together in the standing leg press part.

3 Answers 3


It's like a standing leg press. In a leg press you're lying down and there's no load on your back; 100% of the load is on your legs. In the deadlift, although the movement is initiated like a leg press, if you didn't use your back at all your hips would just shoot up. You still use your back and core to keep tight and maintain the lifting angle before your "hands reach the knees" and you engage your back to finish the rep.


Mostly hips, hinge at the hip as much as you can, then let your knees slide forward as much as needed to grab the bar. Your back should be tight, and locked in place as much as possible; your legs mostly help get the bar moving the first few inches off the ground


You shouldn’t be feeling your back much. Your back muscles, together with your core, should act as stabilisers to keep your back in a neutral position. A deadlift is not an exercise for your back muscles.

Your torso should “stand upright” by pivoting about your hip joint (there is a bony protrusion below your hip bone / pelvis, that’s the hip joint. You move from there to do a hip hinge, and also to stand up.)

If you’re feeling your back muscles working, chances are, you’re standing up by pivoting about your lumbar spine instead. That’s where your back extensors got to do the work of the glutes to help you stand up, and that’s alot of work for them.

Your glutes and quads are the main driver for deadlift. But deadlift should have more glute involvement as it is a hip hinge movement, rather than a knee extension movement like squats. You should try filming down how you deadlift and maybe share here for us to help you take a look.

Some tips that worked for me (I used to extend from my lumbar spine, and always feel them overworking compared to my glutes):

  • I try to go into more anterior pelvic tilt as I’m preparing to lift off. This will eccentrically load my glutes
  • Pushing through my mid foot to heels area
  • Thinking of standing tall and towards the ceiling (no leaning back, which will then make you go into lumbar extension)

Edit: For people who thinks deadlift works the back primarily, please do yourself a favour; stop doing it. If you’re in the fitness industry, please relearn your biomechanics and stop telling people things you learn in the gym. Any debates, please comment below

  • 2
    "A deadlift is not an exercise for your back muscles." I know a fair few health and fitness professionals that would disagree.
    – Thomas Markov
    Oct 4, 2021 at 13:40
  • @Thomasmarkov Can you explain why deadlift is done mainly to develop your back muscles? I work in the rehab side and I have seen a few clowns seeing me because they think deadlift should work their back muscles
    – Jun
    Oct 4, 2021 at 16:51
  • 1
    I did not say the deadlift was done to mainly develop the back. But anyone who does not do the deadlift with strong isometric contraction through the entire upper posterior musculature is going to be one of the clowns in your office. Isometric contraction through the lats, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts is essential to maintaining the stability of the thoracic spine and reducing the load placed directly on the shoulder joint. The deadlift is 100% a back exercise - a back exercise that should have little to no range of motion.
    – Thomas Markov
    Oct 4, 2021 at 16:55
  • @Thomasmarkov If you read what I wrote, I mentioned back and core needs to work as stabilisers. I did not mention that back muscles are relaxed. What OP said about “pulling with the back” is alarmingly and what I always addressed with my patients. Never initiate the movement by going into lsp extension. If you understand about reprogramming how people move due to habits, you will know how important it is to emphasise the main driver of the exercise. If you want to go into the nitty gritty, lats obviously gotta work with your core and contralateral glute to drive the posterior oblique sling.
    – Jun
    Oct 4, 2021 at 17:05

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