I have been lifting for 6 years (non professionally) yet never seriously tried the Deadlift exercise.

Is this exercise necessary for intermediate\advanced bodybuilders in any way?

  • 1
    You've been lifting for six years without the deadlift? What have you been doing instead? Also, this question should really be split into three. :/ Dec 30, 2011 at 16:34
  • Basically worked every muscle except the lower back. There's plenty of stuff to do without it.
    – Leo
    Dec 30, 2011 at 16:40
  • Details on your previous experience would help make the answers more productive, accurate, and relevant. Dec 30, 2011 at 16:43
  • I split the question into 3 as you suggeted. could you narrow down the details I should supply? workout plans \ weights? I've been doing everything on a typical workout plan minus deadlifts.
    – Leo
    Dec 30, 2011 at 16:52
  • My typical workout plan is squats, deadlifts, chin-ups or dips, and sprinting on the off-days. The barbell work is 3 sets of 5 reps, trying to add 5 pounds to each lift on every workout. What's your typical workout plan? Dec 30, 2011 at 16:57

5 Answers 5


The deadlift is awesome

I find deadlifts very productive. Since they're a multi-joint, multi-muscle exercise, they promote growth across the entire back and legs. Done heavy, I've found them very efficient at adding muscle. This is partially because I am a novice. It might be different for your situation.

I don't know of many exercises that could be said to fully replace the deadlift. Squats? Romanian deadlifts? Barbell hip thrusts? They're all close, but not quite it.

You should deadlift

Since the deadlift is easy to learn, safe if done correctly, and simple to do heavy, I think you would love deadlifting. Start light and add weight frequently.

  • 2
    It's also basically a prerequisite to adding the power clean to the mix, which is an amazing exercise for developing explosiveness out of the extra muscle you've been building.
    – user2567
    Dec 30, 2011 at 18:24
  • +1 for clear and succinct answer. The deadlift is almost magic. For instance, the upper-back DOMS I get from pullups and rows, isn't nearly as intense as the one I get from deadlifts. And upper-back isn't even close to being a primary mover for deadlifts. Oh, and in case there is any confusion, I'm talking about the DOMS you know and love. You know, then one where it feels like your muscles are too big for your skin!
    – Alec
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:20

If you're lifting but not doing deadlifts then you're not actually lifting. I say this with tongue-in-cheek but a serious tone.

The same goes for squatting.

Generally, your deadlift will be the movement for which you can move the most weight and the effect of moving this weight on your body cannot be overstated.

You're not just hitting muscles but adrenals and CNS. You're building the core of your body like nothing else, which makes you strong in all sorts of other movements.

Just standing there and holding the weight will isometrically load you up like nothing else.

Proper form requires good back and hamstring flexibility, which is something a lot of lifters don't have. Strength without flexibility is a recipe for injuries.

So while the deadlift looks just like you're picking something off the ground (which is true), there's a lot more to it (though not as much as in a squat). And like the squat, this exercise pays huge dividends.


Absolutely not necessary, deadlifts are great but still overrated. You can replace the deadlift with other exercises if you want to.

You should give it a serious try though.

  • Overrated is a bit harsh, when it comes to subjective experiences. Anyway, the number of exercises you'd have to do to replace the deadlift would be very time consuming.
    – Alec
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:23
  • Overrated not because they are bad but because they are a bit over-hyped, mainly due to the false idea that compound exercises can give a general muscle hypertrophy through higher T levels. Don't you think squats and back extensions are sufficient to cover the deadlift? Deadlifts activate lats as well but most workouts include them anyway.
    – Mårten
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:27
  • I think squats and back extensions are good exercises, but they don't fully cover all the areas deadlifts do. For instance, with deadlifts, you don't simply work lower back and legs. You work lats, traps, upper back, not to mention forearms. And while these are not necessarily the focus of the deadlift, they still contribute to a more wholly worked-out body. And to replace it, I'd have to throw in a lot of isolation exercises. I love that the deadlift covers this much, and gives you so much for free.
    – Alec
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:47
  • And I left out a lot of the smaller muscle groups here, like abdominals, obliques etc.
    – Alec
    Apr 22, 2015 at 6:53
  • Yes I love it as well, not arguing that. Most of those back muscles are covered by rows or chins though. I also read that both deadlifts and squats have very low abdominal and oblique activation. It's a great exercise for lower back side of your core, but not the front.
    – Mårten
    Apr 22, 2015 at 7:38

The Deadlift works nearly every muscle in the body.

VERY IMPORTANT: You must use proper form. Most important is to Hold a Deep Breath, Contract the Abs, and arch the back, to help prevent a herniated disk and Sciatica.

You can lift heaver loads if you use a Reverse Grip vs. the Classic Grip.

The Deadlift along with Squats and Bench Press make up all the exercises in Competitive Power Lifting.

The Deadlift should be the first exercise in your workout routine.

Putting the Deadlift in your workout routine should be done with care.
As with other multi-joint exercises it is very easy to over-train muscle groups.

For example, combining The Deadlift with Squats in a same day workout if you are not a competitive Powerlifter, will very likely over train your Quads and Gluteus Maximus.

These are the muscles that are worked hardest by the Deadlift:

Quadriceps, Biceps Femoris, Long Head
Quadriceps, Biceps Femoris, Short Head
Quadriceps, Rectus Femoris
Quadriceps, Vastus Lateralis
Quadriceps, Vastus Medialis

Gluteus Maximus

Trapezius, Anterior Head
Trapezius, Inferior Part
Trapezius, Middle Part

The Deadlift also puts a significant load on these muscles.

Flexor Digitorum Profundus
Flexor Digitorum Superficialis
Inferior Gemellus
Intertransversarii Laterales Lumborum
Latissimus Dorsi
Levator Anguli Oris
Levator Scapulae
Longissimus Thoracis**
Obliquus Externus Abdominis
Quadratus Lumborum**
Rectus Abdominis
Rhomboid Major
Rhomboid Minor
Serratus Anterior
Serratus Posterior Inferior*
Splenius Cervicis
Superior Gemellus
Teres Major

The Deadlift is the only common exercise that works some specific muscles.
*Deadlift Only
**Deadlift and Back Extension

Deadlift ,Strength Training Anatomy

The above image is from the first edition of Strength Training Anatomy, Copyright 2001 by Editions Vigot, Paris France.

Preview Strength Training Anatomy

Strength Training Anatomy

  • Solid answer, but I disagree that "the Deadlift should be the first exercise in your workout routine." There are other higher-skill exercises of similar load that should take precedence, such as the squat or Olympic lifts. That's not even getting into questions of explosive or speed exercises, which the literature I've seen clearly states should go before strength exercises. Apr 22, 2015 at 1:46
  • @DaveLiepmann God to hear from you. Exercise should be sequenced large muscle group exercises before small muscle group exercises, multiple-joint exercises before single-joint exercises, and higher-intensity exercises before lower-intensity exercises. Mostly to insure you have enough energy available. These rules are not chiseled in granite. People doing Clean and Jerk and Snatch know better what to do. Apr 22, 2015 at 1:53
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    @Misunderstood I think Deadlift should be the last exercise to be performed, especially when lifting heavy. If you're squatting and deadlifting, you should definitely squat before deadlifting for optimal performance :). Apr 22, 2015 at 14:20
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD Exercise should be sequenced large muscle group exercises before small muscle group exercises, multiple-joint exercises before single-joint exercises, and higher-intensity exercises before lower-intensity exercises. That is in the words of the ACSM. After a good workout you should not have enough energy left to do a Deadlift last. Apr 22, 2015 at 16:25
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    I'm not sure about your definition of general fitness; however, this is the general sequence for people who squat and deadlift high volumes (especially if the regimen comprises full body exercises). If a person's regimen comprises isolation exercises or lower volume exercises, deadlift can be first; however, as the weights begin to increase, deadlifting first will interfere with other exercises. Your mile may vary though :). Apr 22, 2015 at 18:33


The deadlift is a bad exercise.

Wanna pull heavy weights and work the entire body at once?

We have:

  • Zercher squats
  • Clean and jerks

Wanna hold heavy weights in your hands?

We have:

  • Farmer carries

Want an exercise that literally and actually works every single muscle fiber of your body and isn't just hyped up to do so by powerlifters?

  • Turkish get up

Want a strong abdomen? Then you gotta actually work your abs, deadlifts don't magically work your abdomen.

The deadlift however is an excellent HIP HINGE exercise, which makes a decent Butt builder. But you can actually lift way heavier weights with barbell glute bridges and activate more muscles by using a bigger range of motion with back extensions on the roman chair.

Why should you deadlift?

Because you want a big deadlift.

The deadlift was created as a circus lift in 1896 to impress people, not as a muscle builder. And then was introduced in powerlifting in 1972.

The nature of the deadlift is and has always been since the very first day it was created as a function to test strength.

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