What Muscles Do Deadlifts Really Work?

Everything you need to know about deadlifts. (Photo via Alora Griffiths/Unsplash)
Everything you need to know about deadlifts. (Photo via Alora Griffiths/Unsplash)

Deadlifts are a compound exercise that has more than one benefit, as it works on more than one muscle group.

In fact, as a compound movement, it's very popular and allows you to strengthen your lower body massively.

Which Muscles do Deadlifts Work?

Coming to the muscle groups on which the exercise works, it’s the entire lower body.

It works on the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and hips. The overall impact on the muscle groups vary based on the deadlift variation.

Deadlift Variations

There are several variations, but a few are most commonly used because of their impact on muscle groups. Here are the most common ones you can focus on:

Conventional Deadlift

This is the variation you should begin with. This variation will allow you to learn the form, movement, and the overall flow of the exercise.

Additionally, conventional deadlifts can enable you to strengthen your overall lower body, as it works on overall development instead of focusing on one particular part of the lower body.


Romanian Deadlift

This variation is sometimes referred to as a stiff-legged or straight-leg deadlift. The reason is that you keep your legs as straight as possible during the exercise, and it primarily works on the hamstrings. Moreover, if you do single-leg RDLs, you will be able to work on your hamstrings as well.


Sumo Deadlift

Sumo deadlifts require you to keep a wider stance. It works a great deal on the quads and hips, and enables you to lift heavier weights. During this deadlift, your hands remain at a shorter grip than your legs.

Nevertheless, it impacts the back as well, and you should begin sumos with lower weights.


The three aforementioned exercises are the most commonly used deadlift variations.

However, you can add other variations, such as trap bar deadlifts (using a trap bar for the deadlift) and deficit deadlift (starts from slightly higher ground than the floor, works massively on the back), and others.

However, you should always begin deadlifting using a smaller weight. The form is of utmost importance, and not knowing it can lead to injury.

Other Muscle Groups Deadlift Works On

While the primary muscle groups are the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and hips, the deadlift works on the middle-back, core, and traps as well. All variations of deadlifts work on all the muscle groups, but the impact differs.

It’s fine to add only one or two types of deadlifts to your routine, but adding variations enables better muscle engagement and activation in the long run.

Bottom Line

Deadlift is a gateway for developing strength. Moreover, it works on grip strength as well, as you grip the entire weight at the top of the motion.

The exercise ensures that your muscle endurance and stamina increases. It also triggers the weight loss process by forcing the body to burn extra calories for the additional effort needed to complete each rep.

Quick Links

Edited by Bhargav
Be the first one to comment