We have read and analyzed thousands of studies on the benefits of exercising regularly in addition to the overall benefits of strength training. To demonstrate the benefits of deadlifts, we spent 83 hours reading over 100 of scientific studies and articles. The top 10 deadlift benefits we uncovered from the research that stresses the importance of deadlifting are that they:
- Increase your vertical jump
- Make you a more explosive athlete
- Help you run and sprint faster
- Increase your muscular and cardiovascular endurance
- Builds muscle and strength
- Builds a stronger grip
- Best exercise for targeting hip extensors and posterior chain
- Boosts your metabolism, increases lean body mass, and improves your physique
- Strengthens your bones
- Improves your posture and reduces lower back pain
- Increases testosterone and HGH levels
Deadlifts increase vertical jump
Athletes who want to jump higher favor deadlifts due to their effectiveness in developing lower body power, max strength, and explosiveness, which is critical in increasing your vertical jump height.
One study had novice athletes deadlift for 5 sets of 5 reps, 2x a week, for 10 weeks, which led to:
- An increase in vertical jump height of 4% to 7.4%
- Significant increases in lower body explosiveness -
- increasing the rate of torque development of the knee flexors (up to 40.2%) and knee extensors (up to 25%)
Numerous studies have highlighted why deadlifts increase vertical jump so effectively:
- Deadlifts are one of the most effective strength exercises for developing jump performance and lower body maximal strength
- Heavy deadlifts lead to significant increases in vertical force production and quadricep development
- Light, explosive deadlifts are also effective at increasing an athletes’s vertical and regular deadlift strength
This increased jumping ability and jumping height directly reflects other maximal power activities that are critical for athletes, such as running or sprinting.
Deadlifts make you run and sprint faster
Deadlifts also target the primary muscle groups used in running, such as the hamstrings and glutes. By developing power, strength, and explosiveness of your deadlift, you also increase your speed.
According to the research:
- Athletes engaged in a deadlift only program for 2.5 months saw an average increase in sprinting speed of 2% to 3%
Research shows that deadlifts help you run faster because:
- Glute and hamstring strength, the primary targets of deadlifts, are directly correlated to the maximum speed capacity of sprinters
- Both deadlifts and sprinting rely on fast twitch muscle fibers
- Athletes and sprinters who develop a heavy deadlift have higher acceleration levels and significantly stronger quads
- Relative strength and stronger quads (both of which deadlifts develop) are in direct relation with short sprint ability of athletes
- Time trial performance of middle and long-distance runners improved as a result of strength training programs with deadlifts
Deadlifts improve endurance and endurance athlete performance
Deadlifts are incredibly effective at increasing full-body muscular endurance and conditioning. This is why deadlifts are one of the best exercises for endurance athletes like runners, cyclists, and other athletes where endurance is critical.
For example, deadlifts strength training programs have been shown to improve running economy:
- Mid-distance runners who deadlift increase their running economy by 3%-5%
- Long-distance runners who deadlift increase their running economy by 2%-4%
A review of the research showed significant improvements for the performance of endurance athletes. Deadlift is effective at improving endurance because research shows:
- Deadlifts are one of the most taxing strength exercises that targets and conditions every major muscle group in the body
- Deadlifts condition the entire body leading to significant increases in muscular endurance that translates into overall athletic endurance
Our research shows that the benefits of deadlifting for endurance can be optimized to better improve cardiovascular endurance by:
- Increasing the number of sets and reps of deadlifts you do
- Decreasing your rest time between sets
Deadlifting makes you stronger in every way
In addition to being “the king” of lower body strength exercises, deadlifts also help develop full body strength. The current research has shown that training the deadlift:
- Effectively strengthens your central nervous system (CNS) and produces strong neurological adaptations
- The stronger CNS from deadlift leads to significant strength and power gains on all other lifts and athletic activities
- Leads to drastic increases in grip strength that carry over to other lifts and sports activities
- Increases the weight lifted on your bench, squat, and other compound lifts
- Activates, engages, and strengthens your core considerably in a way that supports all other major lifts - specifically targets the abdominals, obliques, and erector spinae muscles
- Significant increases in lower body strength, power, and explosiveness - as seen in the benefits for running, sprinting, and vertical jump
For example, athletes who trained just the deadlift for 10 weeks had their:
- Deadlift load increased by 9%
- Hip thrust load increased by 6%
- Were able to jump higher, run faster, and have improved counter-movement jump performance
Benefits of deadlifts for your physique
This compound strength training exercise is incredibly effective at improving your physique. Based on the results of many studies, you can expect to improve your physique with deadlifts as it will help to:
- Build muscle mass in your legs, glutes, and upper back
- Reduce body fat
- Workout your core to help produce abs
- Improve your posture
- Increase the definition, strength, and vascularity of your arms
Deadlifts are a full-body workout all on their own
Deadlifts workout every major muscle group in your body, making this single exercise a full-body workout all on its own. Research has shown that deadlifts effectively target and activate your lower body and upper body. Specifically, deadlifts are able to train your:
- Hip extensors - the glutes and hamstrings
- Core and abdominal muscles
- Major muscles of your upper and lower back
- Erector spinae
- Trapezius muscles
- Forearms and biceps
Deadlifts build muscle, burn fat, and increase lean body mass
Deadlifts are one of the most taxing exercises you can do, target every major muscle group, and are one of the ultimate strength-building exercises. Making it one of the most valuable exercises you can do if you are looking to burn fat, build muscle, and increase lean body mass all while significantly boosting your strength.
In studies assessing the benefits of deadlifts for weight loss, they found:
- Deadlifts, as part of a strength training plan, 3 times a week for 9 months resulted in the 5% increase in resting metabolic rate
- 3 months of exercise with weight training, which included deadlifts, can result in 355 to 44% more weight loss than diet and aerobic workouts only
- A previous study found that deadlifts resulted in a 6% to 7.7% increase in energy expenditure
Deadlifts are able to help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve your physique because:
- The high stress and load of deadlifts force your muscle fibers to adapt and grow significantly
- As one of the most taxing exercises, deadlifts are incredibly effective at burning calories
- Because deadlifts are so difficult, they deplete your glycogen stores, boost insulin resistance / sensitivity, and help you to better utilize the calories and carbs you consume later on
- Additional muscle mass in combination with the after burn effect (EPOC) from this intense exercise lead to an elevated metabolism to help lose more weight
Effect of deadlifts: Improving your health and body
Deadlifts are great for bone health and bone mineral density
Research has shown the key to increasing bone mineral density is to do compound exercises that add a large external load onto the entire body. Deadlifts are the best exercise for this with research showing:
Lifters increased bone mass density up to 7.3% in some parts of the body as a result of strength training with deadlifts 3x a week for 24 weeks. Specifically, deadlift increased the bone mass density in the:
- Posteroanterior spine up to 2.3%
- Lateral spine 1.7% - 7.3% on average
- Femoral neck up to 4.3%
Deadlifts are so good for your bones, bone mineral density, and preventing osteoporosis because:
- Deadlifts allow for the heaviest loads to be applied to the body, as high as 5x to 8x your body weight
- Deadlifting is effective at targeting the spine and hips, two crucial targets for poor BMD and osteoporosis
- Strength training for seniors with exercises like deadlifts are the best solutionDeadlifting for seniors, as with any resistance training, is crucial in preventing age-related loss of bone mineral density
Deadlifting reduces lower back pain
According to research, low back pain can result from issues such as weak lower back muscles or glutes, poor flexibility that hinders the mobility of the lumbar spine, and other mechanical issues. The deadlift is a great option to lower back pain as it addresses many of the main causes of back pain, with studies showing:
- One of the most effective exercises for strengthening lower back, core, and glute strength
- Deadlifts increase mobility, flexibility, and range of motion of the lower back and hips
- Significant decreases in back pain levels after 8 weeks of deadlift 1 to 2 times a week
Deadlifts help improve your posture
Deadlifting is a great option for an overall healthier back. Deadlifts help fix and improve your posture. When doing deadlifts correctly, you will see improvements in your posture because they:
- Strengthens the posterior chain, the muscle groups located on the backside of the body (from your neck to your hamstrings)
- Can help correct imbalances and inactive muscles from prolonged sitting or inactivity
- Deadlifts are effective at targeting the erector spinae, which help stabilize your spine, maintain a neutral back, and healthy mobility
- Deadlift posture requires you to keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in alignment
Deadlifts and injuries
Deadlifting involves carrying heavy weights, hip hinge, and properly aligning your back. When done correctly, deadlifts can be a great way to prevent injuries and even rehab from them. If done incorrectly, you can suffer from muscle pains or worse, even injure yourself.
According to a study conducted among elite lifters, 12 to 31% of their musculoskeletal injuries are caused by deadlifting.
- The most common injuries involve:
- Muscle ruptures
- Lumbar spine (slip disc, sprain, strain)
- Muscle tear (tricep, bicep)
- Shoulder pain (mild to severe)
To prevent such injuries, it is recommended to:
- Keep your torso upright
- Maintain a neutral spine, no rounding or hyperextending
- Keep the barbell close to the body to prevent straining the muscles
- Don’t skip warm-ups
When it comes to preventing injuries or recovering from them studies show that deadlifts can help:
- Strengthening the stabilizer, core, and back muscles that are crucial for all aspects of athletic performance
- Significantly decrease the risk of overuse injuries, primarily in the lower body such as the ankle, knee, and legs
- Improved movement patterns for trainees’ lower body which reduced injury risk in the hip, knee, and ACL
- With increased bone strength and density which reduces your chance of a fracture
Deadlifts can help increase anabolic hormones levels
Research shows that one benefit of deadlifts for hormones is that deadlift stimulates anabolic hormone production. Specifically, the deadlift increases the primary anabolic hormones of testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH).
Studies have shown that deadlift benefits for hormones are:
- The intense recruitment, activation, and stressing of every major muscle group causes the release of the key anabolic hormones
- College-aged, trained men that underwent strongman or hypertrophy training saw increases in testosterone by 74% to 136%
- Free weight and machine weight exercises similar to deadlifts saw significant increases in testosterone and HGH immediately during their workout, which stayed elevated for 30+ minutes post-workout
What muscles do deadlifts work?
- Quadriceps muscles
- Gluteal muscles
- Adductor magnus
- Erector spinae or erectors
- Latissimus dorsi or lats
- Trapezius muscles or traps
- Abdominal muscle and the obliques
Deadlifting every day: should you do it?
Doing deadlifts every day can be good for you if you want to perfect your form. If deadlift every day, you should considerably lower the amount of weight and frequency to ensure safety and your ability to recover.
Although, according to professional weightlifters, you can reap the benefits of deadlift by increasing your load, not the frequency. Meaning it may be better to deadlift heavier or do more intense deadlift workouts once or twice a week, instead of deadlift every day.
What are some advantages of deadlifts?
- Going heavy on deadlifts is safer than other compound exercises such as squats or benching, as the weight is not positioned on top of you which reduces your risk of injury
- Going heavy on those other exercises typically require having a lifting partner or spotter ready to support you
- There are so many deadlift variations, allowing you to strategically pick the best deadlift for your desired goal and adapt it to your specific level of fitness
What are some deadlift variations?
The type of deadlift you do can include some of the following:
- Barbell deadlift, kettlebell deadlift, and dumbbell deadlift
- Light deadlift and heavy deadlift
- Explosive deadlift and slow rep deadlift
- Elevated deadlift and deficit deadlift
- Conventional deadlift / traditional deadlift / standard deadlifts
- Romanian deadlift
- Stiff legged deadlift
- Sumo deadlift
- Hex bar deadlift / trap bar deadlift
- Rack pull deadlift
- Single-leg deadlifts
What are the reasons to not deadlift and who should avoid them?
Though deadlifts strengthen your back muscles, if you have an existing back injury, bad posture, or hip problems, it would be best to avoid this exercise until you have cleared it with your physician.
According to experts, deadlifts can be bad for the spine, if you have a back issue or are not deadlift properly. The reason being the force exerted during deadlifts puts an enormous amount of pressure on your spinal disks and also strains the alignment of your spine.
Are deadlifts safe and effective for older adults and seniors?
Deadlifts are generally safe when performed with proper forms, frequency, and weights for a specific person. Studies have shown that strength training for older adults and seniors is incredibly effective, the benefits of which carry over to deadlifts. It’s safe and effective for even the most at-risk populations, like adults with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Can deadlifting improve heart health?
Strength training is incredibly important for overall health risk and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases or events. For example, one study showed that women who do strength training are able to improve their blood pressure, blood flow, and heart rate better than those who do regular cardio exercise.
Are deadlifts better than squats?
It depends on what you want to strengthen. If you want to focus on your core strength and back, aside from your thigh and butt muscles, deadlifts will be an effective exercise. But if you want well-defined butt and leg muscles, squats will be more beneficial for you.
Can you wear weightlifting shoes for deadlifts?
Though some might think that weightlifting shoes are ideal for deadlifts, the heel adds an extra challenge for lifters. Weightlifting shoes can:
- Increase the range of motion and cause you to become unstable
- Demand more from your quads
- Cause your feet to slide forward inside the shoe
- Place your center of gravity forward and strain your back
What other exercises are effective for improving athletic performance?
Here is a detailed breakdown of other strength exercises that are effective at helping develop stronger, faster, and overall better athletes:
- Benefits of squats for athletic performance and athletes
- Benefits of push ups for athletic performance and athletes
- Benefits of bench pressing for athletic performance and athletes
- Benefits of pull ups for athletic performance and athletes
Deadlifting is a highly recommended form of weight training exercise. It is a form of functional workout that helps you train the muscles of the body needed to perform daily life activities. Deadlift is akin to lifting groceries or buckets of water.
However, because it involves lifting a barbell with weight plates, it can cause injuries if you do not have a proper form. So, before aiming to hit your maximum deadlift load, make sure you have perfected your form.
The fitness industry is set to start recovering in 2021 as more people head back to the gym. If you want to amp your training plan and get strong core muscles, don't forget to add deadlifts to your routine.
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Powerlifters prefer shoes that provide stability, like Converse Chuck Taylors or Nobull training shoes, that have stiff soles. The flat sole unit prevents unnecessary forward movements when doing heavy deadlifts. Others prefer minimalist training shoes like those from Inov-8, Vibram FiveFingers, or New Balance.
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