How to do a deadlift correctly to work your entire body

Posted by for Strength

Get ready to work your entire body, improve your posture and prevent injury with a single lift.

Many of us lift weights to get stronger – which in turn helps us to feel more powerful and in control. But getting stronger is also about becoming functionally fit, less prone to everyday injury and better balanced. 

And there’s one move in particular that will get your lower body firing on all cylinders while working on your balance and range of motion. “Deadlifts involve a hip dominant hinging movement, which means they’re amazing for the glutes, hamstrings and lower back,” says Strong Women ambassador Alice Miller.

Deadlifts are one of the most fundamental lifting moves. There are loads of variations that you can do to mix up your workouts and target different muscle groups, but nailing the standard deadlift is your best way into the move. To avoid doing yourself an injury, you want to make sure that your glutes, hamstrings and core are all engaged. 

The best bit? You don’t need a gym to feel the burn. Grab your home weights and get cracking.


  • Hamstrings (back thighs)
  • Glutes (bum)
  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Adductor Magnus (inner thigh)
  • Erectors (outside of the spine)
  • Lats (lower side back)
  • Rhomboids (upper inner back-lower neck)
  • Traps (shoulder-upper back)


  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees to grab your dumbells, barbell or kettlebells, which should be placed either side of your feet.
  3. Lift up as you straighten your knees and back, bringing the dumbells up with you until your arms are also straight.
  4. Return the dumbells back down to the ground, bending your knees as you go.

Repeat for 12 reps, take a minute rest and go again.


Slow it down

It’s all about the range of motion rather than sprinting your way through the move so deadlift mindfully.

Keep the neck and shoulders relaxed 

It’s easy to strain the neck doing these moves to keep it long by looking ahead of you rather than at the ground or up to the sky. Shoulders shouldn’t be hunched up by the ears either.

Keep your knees nice and bent

You want to maintain a loose bend in the knees to avoid any locking injuries.

Engage the core

Keep those abs locked to give you greater balance.


Romanian deadlift

It may seem similar to your standard deadlift, but a RDL is different because it targets the hamstrings in particular. A standard deadlift primarily focuses on the standing up portion, while the RDL focuses on the downwards movement. 

You may not get all the way to the ground at this time as you’re keeping the legs straighter and hinging from the hips to give the backs of your legs a good stretch. Often, you’ll want to slow the descent down so that you’re lowering slowly before coming up quicker.

Single leg deadlift

For this, use some lighter dumbbells, put your weight into one foot and lift the other leg a few inches off the floor. Hinge forwards to bring the weights towards the ground, keeping your leg straight. Try to do ten on one leg without letting your other foot touch the ground and then go again on the other side. Tip: fix your eyes on something slightly ahead of you on the ground to balance yourself.

Sumo deadlift

When you see “sumo” in front of any move, you know that it’ll involve taking your legs out wide to target more of the glutes and inner thighs. Keep your hands parallel to your hips, bend at the hips and get lifting.

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts. 

Images: Getty

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Miranda Larbi

Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.

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