There comes a time in every gym goer’s life when they feel the need to make their workout a bit more intense. You just feel like you need to add something to all the cardio that you have been doing and that is where exercises like the deadlift comes in. There are workouts that you can’t start doing when you are new to the gym, as they require you to be at a certain fitness level and an example of such exercises is the deadlift. With that said, here we shall present a detailed guide on deadlifts for beginners, the benefits of doing them and how you can improve your deadlift game.
Deadlift Workout For Beginners
The deadlift is one of those exercises that can help you in many ways. It can help you to increase your athleticism, it can also help you shed off a few pounds and most importantly it can certainly help you build muscles and strength. The deadlift is a compound exercise. A compound exercise is an exercise that works numerous muscles and involves numerous joints simultaneously. This makes the deadlift quite an efficient workout since it enables you to engage multiple muscles with a single exercise. Let’s be honest, people with busy schedules don’t have the time to do isolated exercises so workouts such as the deadlift enable them to utilize the little gym time they have to the fullest.
How To Do A Proper Deadlift For Beginners
Since this is not the easiest exercise, one needs to proceed with caution and a way of doing that is by learning the correct form for doing it. Good form helps to prevent injury. It helps in making sure that the weight you lift is evenly distributed across your entire body. This prevents you from exerting too much pressure on certain body parts, hence inflicting injury. This is not the only thing that good form is good for.
Good form also enables you to make connected use of the workout, enabling you to enjoy the benefits associated with the workout. Can you imagine not being able to get the results you wanted after putting so much work into an exercise just because you did not do it properly? This is why before you start an exercise you should always find the proper way of doing it. With that said, here is how to do a proper deadlift (4):
- The first thing to do is to get into the starting position. To get started, you first need to make sure to step up to the bar, and lower your hips so that you can reach the bar. Bend your knees until the bar almost touches your shins. While doing this, you need to make sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart. The way you choose to hold the barbell bar all depends on what you prefer. You can either choose to hold it with an overhand grip with both hands or you can go for the overhand grip with one hand and an underhand grip with the other. This is all up to you.
- With the bar firmly held, the next thing to do is to push your hips back to the point where you feel tension in your hamstrings. Brace your abs and maintain a tall spine.
- Then engage your lats and keep your chest out throughout the entire movement.
- Next, smoothly lift the bar from the group by straightening your knees until you get to an upright standing position. Do this while making sure your abs are tight, your shoulders are still engaged and the bar is close to your body as it can possibly be.
- Breath out as you reach the top and squeeze your glutes.
- Then gently lower the bar back to the ground. Make sure you still keep the bar close to you as this enables you to return to the original starting position.
That is how you do the basic deadlift. There are other variations of the deadlift that you can go adding to your workout the more used you get to the workout. The various variations help increase the intensity in different ways hence it is advisable to get used to the basic deadlift before you start looking for other intense options. The golden rule to any exercise is to ease yourself into it and to try not to do what you cannot handle.
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Which Muscles Does The Deadlift Engage?
As discussed earlier, the deadlift is a compound exercise and that means it works multiple muscles simultaneously. Here are the muscles engaged while doing a deadlift:
The deadlift works various muscles in your back. It works the latissimus dorsi muscles, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles (1). During the deadlift, the main function of the back and all its muscles is to assist the gluteus maximus and the hamstrings and it assists them by reinforcing the proper positioning of your torso.
Here we are mostly talking about the gluteus maximus. Just as mentioned above, its main function is to extend the hips during the workout (1). It is helped by the back muscles and the hamstring in achieving this.
These are muscles that are found in the lower region of your back and are also engaged when you are doing a deadlift. The erector spinae help in keeping the spine stable while doing this exercise as well as help in resisting spinal flexion under load (1).
Other muscles that are engaged are:
- The quadriceps. These muscles are usually found in the area between your hip bone and your knee.
- Adductor magnus. This muscle is found in the inner parts of your thigh.
- The calves. These muscles are found in the lower region of your legs just below your knees.
- The rectus abdominis muscle. These are the abs or the six pack. They are found in the front part of your stomach.
Benefits Of Doing Deadlifts
The deadlift comes with a lot of benefits and that’s why most people add it to their workout program. Here are some of the benefits you should expect from doing deadlifts:
Stimulate The Production Of The Growth Hormone And Testosterone
These two hormones have a positive impact when it comes to building muscles and strength. Testosterone helps with repairing muscles, growth of muscles and helps prevent the growth of fat cells (2). The growth hormone on the other hand brings almost similar benefits in that it helps with muscle growth, fat loss and helps increase the strength of your bones (2).
Doing deadlifts helps with the production of these two hormones in that deadlifting generates a neuroendocrine response. This is a response that involves the nervous system and the endocrine system in your body (2). This is common to most compound exercises of which the deadlift is one of them. Compound workouts with short periods of rest increase the production of these hormones and hence if you want to increase their production while deadlifting, you need to take short rest periods in between the sets.
Help With Weight Loss
During the pandemic so many people have gained weight. This is brought up by reasons like people being sedentary most of the time, stress eating, gyms being closed and all that. Since the world is slowly going back to normal, most people are looking to lose the pandemic weight and when it comes to that, one of the most effective workouts is the deadlift. This workout uses different approaches in achieving weight loss.
First and foremost, the deadlift helps with weight loss by building strength and muscles. As we have highlighted before, the deadlift is quite effective when it comes to bodybuilding and this helps in shedding a few pounds. Muscles are metabolically active tissues, this means that they burn calories even when at rest. This is not the same for fat tissues. When you build muscles, you increase your body’s resting metabolism and this results in weight loss (2).
Second, the exercise itself burns so many calories. As we indicated, this workout engages so many muscles from all parts of the body. This exercise is energy demanding and this makes the body convert the stored fats into energy so that there is enough energy for the body to use while sending oxygen to all these different muscles. What is even more fascinating about this exercise is the fact that it continues to burn calories even after you are done working out. This brings about EPOC (2). EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen consumption is the amount of calories your body burns after a strength-training exercise such as the deadlift so that it can return to its normal state.
EPOC involves processes such as restoring your oxygen levels, creating new energy stores since you used the energy that was stored while working out and removing any lactic acid that might have built up and these processes need energy and this results in your body burning calories (2). The more work you put in, the more calories will be needed to restore your body back to normal. This means if you do 20 deadlift reps you will burn more calories returning to normal than the person who did 10 deadlift reps. Of course, other things come into play like your weight as the more weight you have the more calories you burn, your age, your gender and other factors that affect the rate of weight loss in individuals.
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Help Deal With Back Pains
Back pain is a common occurrence nowadays. It is caused by things like sitting on the desk all day, getting old and all that. Back pain makes one dysfunctional as you cannot do things comfortably and hence you end up being unproductive. It is also quite painful. One way of dealing with back pains is doing deadlifts. Deadlifts will help deal with back pains you currently have, prevent a recurrence of the pains and if you don’t have the pains at the moment, this reduces the risks of getting them in the future.
The form of this exercise is a basic everyday movement. It is almost identical to the movement you apply when picking things from the ground, tying your shoes and so on. Doing deadlifts helps prevent you from injuring yourself when doing these everyday movements. This goes without saying but you should always make sure you hold the correct form while doing deadlifts so that you don’t injure yourself while trying to prevent injuries.
A study was done to see which patients suffering from back pain are more likely to benefit from doing deadlifts. For the study to be able to understand which patients with lower back pain can benefit from doing deadlifts, the researchers aimed to identify which variables could predict activity, disability and pain intensity after an 8 week training program that involved doing deadlifts as a rehabilitative exercise (5).
The study included 70 participants who were put into two groups. One group was the control group and the other group involved participants who would undergo the various deadlift sessions. The people in the second group were to meet up with an experienced physical therapist who supervised them while they were doing the deadlift workout 12 times in a period of 8 weeks (5). The study took 8 weeks. Baseline values for activity, disability and pain intensity were taken before the study and after the study as these variables were to be used as outcome measures.
The participants were taught how to perform the deadlifts in the manner in which the physical therapist wanted. This form would prevent them from injuring themselves or worsening the back pains they already have. The participants started by lifting 10 to 20 kgs first. The volume and the intensity of the exercise was slowly increased by increasing the sets or by increasing the weight as time went by and when only it was evident that the participants had learned the perfect form for the exercise (5).
From the study it was seen that deadlift improved the activity levels, and decreased both the disability scores and the pain intensity scores. The activity levels of the participants in group 2 was 4.8 before the study and 6.8 after the study. The disability score of the individuals in group 2 was 7.1 before the study and 3.8 after the study. The pain intensity scores of the same individuals decreased from 42.6 to 22.2 (5). This study shows deadlifts help deal with back pains. Before you use deadlifts to treat your back pains, you should first consult a health practitioner. Deadlifts should also not be used to replace any prescriptions that were previously instructed by a health practitioner in regards to your back pains.
Help With Building Strength And Muscles
This is the main reason why most people incorporate deadlifts to their workout program. Deadlifts work different muscles and this helps create full body strength. What makes the deadlift quite effective when it comes to building strength and muscles is the fact that it offers room for progression. When you get used to a certain weight or number of reps you can choose to increase the intensity of the training session by lifting a heavier weight or by increasing the reps you do. There are also many different variations of the exercise that also help increase the intensity of the workout.
Help With Your Posture
Is your posture one of the things lowering your body confidence? If so, then you are at the right place. Having a good posture helps prevent neck pains, back pains and also boosts a person’s confidence. A good way of dealing or improving your posture is by doing deadlifts. Deadlifts help improve your posture by aligning different body parts like the shoulders, spine, and the hips (3).
Help Strengthen Your Core
Doing this exercise engages a lot of muscles that are found in your core. The way the exercise is done also engages the core as core stability is what makes it possible for you to pick the weight from the floor (3). All this helps strengthen your core and this makes everyday activities and movements easier since all movements originate from the core.
The Bottom Line
Deadlifts for beginners can be very beneficial as highlighted above. They help build overall body strength, they help with weight loss, they help to manage back pains, they help with your posture, and help in making your core strong. As you are still an amateur, you need to be careful when doing deadlifts. Do not try to do more than you can handle; do the reps you can comfortably handle and lift a weight that is just right for you. Make sure you maintain the correct form and ease yourself into the exercise.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 4 Beginner Friendly Deadlift Variations (2019, barbend.com)
- 4 Benefits of Doing Deadlifts For Weight Loss (n.d., fitbod.me)
- 11 Deadlift Benefits That Are Backed By Science (2021, barbend.com)
- HOW TO DEADLIFT (n.d., puregym.com)
- Which Patients With Low Back Pain Benefit From Deadlift Training? (2015, journals.lww.com)