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Deadlifts – A core component to your resistance training program

Published: May 9, 2022

The deadlift is a weight training exercise in which a loaded bar is lifted from the floor to the level of the hips before being placed back on the floor. This movement is a great whole-body exercise as it loads all of our large leg muscles, core as well as involving significant activity in the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles. It is a functional movement, mimicking the lifting we do in everyday life including in the workplace, and we often use this for return to work lifting assessments.

FUN FACT: Core muscle activity is greater in a dead lift than performing a plank if the weight is set at 80% of your max lift.

Recent studies have found that participating in a lifting program with exercises such as the deadlift can also increase bone mineral density in the hip and lumbar spine (lower back) – helping to prevent osteoporosis, therefore resistance training is beneficial even in older populations. Performing dead lifts specifically can improve your grip strength and can also improve power/acceleration in a horizontal direction meaning runners can improve their speed with this exercise!

If you are new to lifting or this exercise specifically, it is a good idea to have someone teach you the correct technique and assess that you have sufficient range of motion in your joints to be able to get into these positions. You should perform some glute, core and latissimus dorsi activations prior to lifting to ensure your muscles are warmed up, but not too far into your workout that your muscles are fatigued.



The Key Steps to Performing a Conventional Deadlift (*but as mentioned – do see someone to learn this technique rather than teaching yourself from these steps):

  • Create a stable base with your mid-foot placed under the bar creating a “foot tripod” through your big toe, heel and little toe on each side.
  • Bend over and grab the bar at shoulder width ensuring this is from the hip and not the lower or upper back.
  • Activate through your latissimus dorsi by pulling your shoulders “back towards your hip pockets.” If you have weight on the bar you should hear the a click sound as you perform this movement from the pull of the bar.
  • Stand up with the weight driving hips forwards to use your glutes.




Progress yourself slowly with weights, and prior to even starting from the floor with a bar, work your way through deadlifting a dumbbell or kettlebell, and then from rack height (a “block pull” exercise and then work into more range from the floor).

Happy and safe lifting!



Do you think you could benefit from seeing a Physiotherapist? 

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Author: Lou Marmion, Physiotherapist (B. ExSc, M. Phty)