Fitness: Why everyone should be doing more deadlifts

The deadlift is your most versatile muscle-building move. Never done it before? Here's why you should give it a go

Man deadlifting with barbells
(Image credit: Getty)

Bicep curls? Old hat. Lunges? Pass. Everyone should be doing more deadlifts if they're looking to get stronger and healthier, whether you're a die-hard gym bunny, or you're at home and you like to go on brisk walks. 

Whether you're using two small dumbbells or a large, heavy iron bar, deadlifts are extremely beneficial. If you've never done deadlifts before, you should check out our guides on how to deadlift with dumbbells and how to deadlift properly with barbells. But first, here's why you should be deadlifting. 

To start, deadlifts are what fitness professionals refer to as a compound lift. It works lots of different muscle groups in your body. A study published in the scientific journal PLOS One found the deadlift works your biceps, glutes, lower back, lattimus and hamstring muscles.  

There's no other exercises you could do which will work your arms, back, bum and legs all at once. It allows for a shorter, more efficient workout if you're planning on building muscle.

Deadlifts don't just build muscle, but they also strengthen bones. A study from researchers in South Korea found a resistance training exercise programme including deadlifts worked to keep bones strong, fighting conditions like osteoporosis in older adults. 

Woman deadlifting with dumbbells

(Image credit: iStock)

As well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis, deadlifts can prevent back problems as you age: a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found deadlifting reduced pain, and increased activity, in patients suffering from lower-back pain.

There's loads of variations that can be performed with a whole variety of benefits. Stiff-legged or Romanian deadlifts, for example, improve the flexibility of your hamstrings, while the deadlift and row (a popular superset) works your upper back muscles in addition to your lower back. 

Model deadlift with a bar

(Image credit: iStock)

Deadlifting doesn't need a heavy iron bar with large plates: you can start reaping the benefits of this muscle-building move with a medium weight or a simple set of dumbbells. Young or old, male or female:  the deadlift is for you. 

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