Exercise review - deadlifts

Deadlifts scare a lot of people but they are actually one of the most functional exercises you can do. Here are the vitals:

What do they do?

Deadlifts are a great exercise as they involve multiple muscle groups. They are great for strengthening your back, glutes, hamstrings and core. As they work so many muscles at once they are good at burning calories too!

Who are they for?

Everyone! There is a test that can suggest deadlifts might be too hard to start with. It's called the Biering-Sørensen Test as illustrated below:

You should be able to hold the position shown (you can get someone to hold your legs if you don't have straps!) for a minute. If you can't, strengthen your back and core before attempting to go heavy on deadlifts.

Who shouldn't do them?

  • If you can't do the test above you should work up to it making sure you have the core and back strength to do the 1 min challenge.

  • If you can't control your spine position (as in the pic below) you should work on the technique before going heavy.

Suitable for pregnant women?

  • Yes: deadlifts mimic a key movement for lifting children which should be practiced. You'll need to modify the load to ensure the heart rate isn't getting too high, but if the midwife has cleared you to exercise then there should be no issue.

Key coaching points

  • Hinge from the hips

  • The arms act as carriers only do not try to use them to lift

  • Keep the bar very close to your legs the whole time

  • Don't hyperextend the back as you stand up

Works well with:

  • Squats

  • Waiters bow

  • Hip thrusters


Deadlifts are a great exercise that hit a lot of muscle groups. It's can be an intimidating exercise especially if you've had back pain, but they can in fact improve back pain and make you much more robust bending and lifting. It's one of those exercise that you sometimes need to use a heavy weight to get the technique right and avoid just using your arms, but if you are completely new to it, start with a light weight and get the form nailed first.

#strengthening #review #exercise #strengthtraining #Strengthandconditioning