How to Do a Deadlift

The deadlift can help improve your total body strength. Learn how to introduce this strength training exercise into your workout.

Looking to gain total body strength and power? Adding deadlifts to your workout routine can help you accomplish your goal.

The deadlift is a cornerstone exercise in strength training. It can work different parts of the body – both upper and lower – with an emphasis on the posterior chain. The posterior chain includes your hamstrings, glutes, traps, external obliques and calves.

The primary muscles involved in deadlifts are the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

Professional baseball strength and conditioning coach Jorge Canepa says the deadlift can carry over to all sports. This is due to the athletic position you begin the exercise with.

“The deadlift is the foundation to athletic movement,” Canepa says.


Begin by setting up in a standing position, with your shins touching the barbell as it rests on the floor. The bar should be over the laces of your shoes. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. This means placing your feet just outside of your shoulders. Keep your feet, knees and hips square. Your eyes should be looking forward.

As you lower your body to grip the bar, bend at the knees and drive your hips back. It’s important not to drop your hips too low.

To lift the barbell:

  • Grab the bar slightly wider than your legs, placing your hands on top of the bar. Keep a strong grip.
  • Bring your shoulders down and back, positioned directly over the bar, with your chest up. Your back should be in a flat/straight position, with your head in line with your back and hips. Do not round your back.
  • Activate your hamstrings as you prepare to lift.
  • Lift the bar, keeping it below your torso, as your hips and shoulders move in unison. Make sure your head, back and hips stay aligned.
  • As the bar reaches your knees, push your hips forward.
  • After you reach a standing position, reverse the motion and return the bar to the floor.

Remember to keep your feet flat as you drive through the floor on the way up. It’s also important not to overextend your back as you reach the top of your motion.

Now that you know how to do a deadlift, check out these Pro Tips on how to set up and complete the Romanian deadlift.