Is Deadlift a Back Exercise – How to Practice?

Is Deadlift a Back Exercise
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Deadlift is an exercise for so many muscle groups. Is deadlift a way to exercise your back? Deadlift is mainly a leg movement rather than back exercise, because it involves the extension of hips and knees, which will recruit quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus. However, during deadlift, the back muscles are very active, so you can lift in the back or legs. In this article, we will introduce in detail what factors you should consider when you are deadlift, how to decide where to put the lift in the training, and how to change the training to be more specific to specific muscle groups.

Body Movement During Deadlift Exercise

We should first understand how the body moves in the process of lifting, so as to correctly use the target muscles of lifting training. The main movements in deadlift are knee extension and hip extension, and slight shoulder extension. Knee and hip movements during deadlift are mainly leg or lower body movements, but we will learn which muscles (including back muscles) are used and how to use them.

  • Quadriceps femoris

These muscles are located in the front of the thigh and are responsible for straightening the knee during lifting.

The quadriceps is mainly used to push the barbell off the ground, especially at the beginning of exercise. If you fail in the final stage, it is probably because your quadriceps is weak.

  • Hamstring

These muscles are located at the back of the thigh and help stretch the hips, but they are not the main hip extensors.

In other words, they sometimes help to extend the hips in the lift lock, but there may be better exercises to train the hamstrings directly.

  • Gluteus maximus

Gluteus maximus is the main gluteus maximus (the muscle we sit on). It is one of the largest muscles in the human body and helps to stretch the hips during lifting.

They can help you keep your hips straight at the top. If you fail to lock the lift, it may be because your gluteus maximus is weak.

  • Erector spinalis muscle

The erector spinalis or erector spinalis is the back muscle strip from the neck to the tailbone along the side of the spine. These muscles contract isometric, that is, they contract, but do not change their length during lifting. They help maintain the posture of the spine, that is, help prevent the back from bending during lifting.

When Should I Do Deadlift?

When to choose deadlift depends ultimately on your training objectives and training program. In addition to deciding whether you should be doing sit ups or leg weight lifting, consider a third option: lifting weights on weightlifting day. For bodybuilders and general fitness enthusiasts, it is useful to segment muscle groups on different training days. For weightlifters, it may be more valuable to concentrate on lifting weights for a day. When deciding to continue training according to muscle groups or turn your attention to the three major weightlifting, you need to consider the following points.

What is Your Deadlift Exercise Goal?

Everyone has a reason to go to the gym. Take some time to look inward and explore your motivation. If your goal is to exercise muscle strength or participate in weightlifting competitions, your barbell lifting training takes priority over auxiliary training. In this case, you may decide to perform the apprentice lift on the back and leg day, choose high repetition and low weight on the leg day, and choose low repetition and high weight on the back day.

Some deadlift training models take a different approach, assigning the dead a focused day. On this day, heavy lift is the main focus with the fact that the elevator is supplemented with accessories. The rest of the weekly training program includes a few days focused on squats and benches.

If your goal is to build a fragmented physique, deadlift was not a priority in the past. Deadlift is more suitable as an auxiliary exercise on leg exercise day. The seriously injured are still worth continuing training the next day, because the improvement of core strength and rear chain health plays an important role in training.

How to Perform Deadlift Exercise?

Although deadlift exercise may be complex, this complexity makes it itself useful. Although sit ups are mainly lower body exercises, they are still effective for leg and back muscles. Whether you choose one or the other depends largely on the app and your fitness goals. Knowing your current situation and having a clear goal is the best way to consider which day to take action.

As we can see above, deadlift exercise’s mechanics makes lifting mainly leg movement. The initial power comes from the legs to move the weight. Your quadriceps works with your hamstrings and glutes, and then you “push” it to the floor and slowly lift the barbell off the ground.

Because the utilization of legs is so high, empty lift tends to be grouped with leg days. However, there are some important factors to consider in advance.

One aspect to consider is that deadlift exercise is very tiring for the body. Obviously, this will bring great benefits, but you should also consider this when planning your exercise plan. If you don’t use momentum, moving such a heavyweight away from the dead corner will make you exhausted.

This is why it is best to perform deadlift exercise at the end of leg training. In this way, you can squat to exercise your legs, which is still difficult, but they will give you more energy to do other leg exercises. It’s a good way to start a day’s leg exercise with a heavy load, which can derail your daily life and consume too much gasoline before you really start.

In addition, squatting is a good warm-up for deadlift exercise. Hip hinges have their similarities, and you will also prepare your entire rear chain, which is crucial to the successful completion of deadlift exercise. This will help you get a full range of motion and increase more gain.

Once you clean the bar from the ground, most of the action will come from your upper body and back muscles. This starts with the lower back, because your hip is dislocated and finally locked. Then, your upper back will keep your shoulders stable and pull the barbell to the top of the weight lifting. Although back muscles are the second function of leg muscles, they are still closely related to deadlift exercise.

Contrary to the deadlift exercise of leg day, you will want to deadlift exercise the next day. This is because you want to get enough strength from your back muscles, which was not fully used in this weightlifting. You won’t risk letting your legs out at the beginning, so it’s not harmful to grow from the beginning.

Many weightlifters also like to carry out unloaded weightlifting and bench press at the same training stage. This is because in the game, there will be empty lifts after the substitutes are pressed, so this is a good way to practice.

Deadlift Styles and Variations

Deadlift is a versatile sport. Instead of focusing on traditional unloaded lifting, you can incorporate the changes of unloaded lifting into your training on different training days. This method is very suitable for improving the shape and hip hinge movement, without putting too much weight on the body.

Some common static lift variations include:

  • Sumo death force

This alternative to the traditional dead lift is an acceptable change in the competition. Sumo weightlifters stand wide with feet shoulder width. The dead lift of SUMO shifted some attention from the hamstring to the quadriceps.

  • Static lift of trap rod

Also known as a hex jack, this variant uses a hex with a vertical handle. Trap bar deadlift reduces the range of motion and lumbar contact, making it an ideal choice for patients with lower back pain and mobility problems.

  • Romanian Deadlift 

This change in the lift action targets the gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles, which is opposite to the standard lift action. The barbell starts from the hip, slowly drops to the calf level, while maintaining contact with the body, and then returns to the starting position with a strong extension. The knee bends slightly throughout the movement.

  • Stiff leg lift

Similar to the lifting in Romania, the stiff leg lifting starts from the hip. The weightlifter slowly lowers the barbell to the ground while keeping the knees locked and the legs as straight as possible, focusing on the hip hinge. Keep the bar as low as possible while keeping your back straight.

  • Kettlebell or dumbbell lift

This unloaded lift variant uses dumbbells or kettlebells to replicate the traditional unloaded lift or trap pole unloaded lift. These tools can also be used for Romanian and stiff leg lifts.

  • One leg Kettlebell or dumbbell lift

This one-sided movement helps train the hip hinge pattern, core support, ankle stability, and hamstring muscles. Weightlifters will lift one foot, keep their backs straight, and focus on balance while articulating forward and lowering weight to the floor.

These changes will still act on the back chain, enhance core strength and lower body strength, and become excellent auxiliary training.

What Will Make Muscles Grow?

The main driver of hypertrophy (muscle growth) is eccentric (weight loss) contraction. Eccentric movement refers to the increase in length of your muscles as they resist resistance. For example, in biceps curl, eccentric motion refers to lowering weight back to the ground. You can remember the eccentricity by comparing it to the “simple” part of the elevator.

The other half of deadlift is concentric contraction (lifting weight). Centripetal movement is the shortening of the length when your muscles resist resistance. Centripetal contraction can fine tune the nervous system and make muscle burning more effective. In the case of biceps curl, the concentric part is when you bring weight to your shoulders against gravity. When you have to concentrate on the hardest things, it’s easy to remember which part of the elevator is concentric.

There is also a third contraction called isometric contraction. Isometric contraction means that the muscle is neither lengthened nor shortened. As an example of practice, curl your hair in wall, plank or dumbbell style and hold it up to half. Isometric contraction does not lead to significant muscle growth, but it can increase the strength of the joint angle by improving the nervous system.

Eccentric contractions and the hypertrophy they stimulate seriously affect your muscle mass. The degree of muscle absorption by your nervous system mainly depends on your centripetal contraction and its impact on body wiring. This is why most strength training programs include lifting weights and low repetitions to improve your nervous system, as well as low weight and medium to high repetitions to increase muscle mass and allow a lot of eccentric movements. We need these two parts to gain real power. Combining these elements can ensure that your muscles grow in the best way. Weight lifting can improve the ability of your nervous system to recruit muscles through weight-bearing and low repetition times, but weight lifting often lacks sufficient hypertrophy stimulation.

Why Shouldn’t You Consider Doing Sit-ups?

When you do a good sit up, your back starts from a neutral position and remains neutral throughout the weight lifting process. When you do a good sit up, your back keeps contracting equidistantly. Your back muscles will become stronger in the neutral position, but they will not grow too large. Your back hurts a lot. If what you want is a big back, thick back and huge trap, then back lifting should not be your preferred weapon. This is very good for improving the ability of the back to maintain a neutral position and increasing the strength of the hips, which is crucial for lifting any load. But the elevator itself doesn’t build a big back.

To create a thick and wide back, you need to do upper body traction exercises. You can focus on the centripetal and eccentric contraction of the hindquarters, snares, and other back muscles. Do sit ups to improve your body’s ability to lift weights. Increase the back chain movement and hit the gluteus maximus and thighs after your lift to stimulate the maximum hypertrophy of these muscles.

Your glutes and hamstrings are the muscles that do weight lifting. If you are interested in exercising these muscles through weight-free exercises, you need to make sure that you can increase and decrease weight through control. Emphasizing the eccentric part of weight lifting (remember, the “simple” part) will ensure that you get maximum muscle growth.

If you feel weak lifting mainly in your lower back, your skills may need to be checked. You must master the hip hinge / Romanian lift mode. You will also find that when learning to master the traditional limit lifting, it is very helpful to use building blocks to improve the starting point of limit lifting.


Deadlift has a place in leg training, back training or independent training days. When reaping the benefits of this compound exercise, each method has pros and cons.

The decision about when to lift depends ultimately on your way and goal of lifting weights. Fortunately, there are many different lifting movements from the standard, which can divert muscle attention and improve the movement mode without exhausting your body.

Learn More About Body Shape Guide Below!

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