Which muscles do deadlifts work? Fitness trainers answer your most googled questions

Posted by for Strong Women

Which muscles do deadlifts work? Fitness trainers answer the most googled questions

From the moves to the equipment that you use, getting your head around some of the lingo used in the world of strength training can be hard. For example, what’s the difference between strength and resistance training? What the hell is a bosu ball? And are deadlifts really as scary as they sound? 

The answer to the latter is: absolutely not. In fact, they’re one of the key moves in weightlifting. And while on the surface it may look like you’re just picking up and putting down a pile of metal, the deadlift will actually make you stronger, fitter and healthier

But before you jump onto the lifting platform, remember that it pays to know how and why you’re doing what you’re doing. 

That’s why each week, we ask fitness trainers to answer some of the most-asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. This time, they’re talking about building strength and muscle with deadlifts.



“Deadlifting is a compound movement meaning it works a lot of muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, back and lats. The core also gets a great workout, helping to develop strength and muscles in the abdomen.”


“Deadlifts are more of a posterior chain exercise so work the back side of the body, including your glutes, hamstrings and back. People might feel it a little  in their lower back but that’s okay as long as it’s not painful and as long as it’s not taking the majority of the strain. If you’re a bit worried about it, de-load the bar a little to work on form.”



“When we’re sat down our glutes and hamstrings can become inactive. For people who have office jobs, and are sat down a lot, they can end up with quite weak glutes. Working the back as well is important if you think about how long we spend leaning over typing and on our phones. Deadlifts can improve your posture which is really important. As it’s functional, it will also help in real life. So when we pick things up we will be able to carry more load and do it properly without injury.”


“At our desks the back half of our body is very lazy. Everything becomes quite inactive and we tend to be rounded through the back. If we then went to pick something up off the floor when we’re not trained to do that, we can get injured. So by deadlifting, you’re making sure you don’t lose that movement pattern and that strength and that your body’s just safer. Biomechanically everyone can deadlift, and it’s just helping to counteract your desk bound life. Also, it’s good to be strong!”



“Yes, working the muscles will help them grow. But you need to train with progressive overload, meaning you’ll be adding weight or extra reps each week.”


“Every resistance exercise and anything with load builds muscle if you’re doing it at a high enough intensity and with enough load. You want to be working at a heavy enough load that you can build that muscle really efficiently. And if that’s what you’re chasing, you want to be working in the eight to 12 rep range. So you want to work with the weight to get those reps out, but doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve got loads left in the tank once you finish your 12. You want your last three reps to be pretty challenging.”

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Images: Getty

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