Deadlifts are one of the more popular exercises at the gym. Several versions exist, including the more common barbell and the relatively less common kettlebell version.
If you walk into the gym, high chances are that you will find someone doing deadlifts. But can deadlifts make you bigger?
Well, yes- deadlifts do make you bigger! Deadlifts grow your leg muscles massively, grow your abs, help your posture, and grow tons of other muscles in your body too- giving you a much bigger stature and frame.
Should you include deadlifts in your regular workout routine? We find there are many common misconceptions around the topic. What are the exact benefits of deadlifts? And what exactly are deadlifts? We discuss the above topics and more to help you make a more informed decision.
What Exactly Are Deadlifts?
The deadlift is one of the three main powerlifting exercises, the other two being the squat and the bench press. The deadlift is almost an archaic exercise, whereas the ancient version involved a T bar where the lifter stood on chairs or similar platforms.
- Read: Are Deadlifts Worth It?
A deadlift is completed in three phases, namely Setup, Drive, and Lockout
- Setup: This is the first phase. The lifter begins by positioning themselves in the correct posture. This involves standing behind the bar with the body weight equally distributed on both the heels. The bar has to be gripped outside the knees. This initial phase helps the lifter get into a safe position to carry out the remainder of the exercise.
- Drive: Consider this the “main” phase. This is when the lifter has to generate the most power. It involves actually lifting the weights, most commonly on a barbell. The phase ends with the lifter standing fully erect with the weights visibly lifted up from the ground.
- Lockout: This is when the lifter keeps the weights lifted. The lifter keeps a neutral spine, engaging multiple muscle groups such as hips, spine and abdomen.
Lastly, the weights are safely lowered down in front of the lifter. Think of the three phases going in reverse order.
Now that we understand deadlifts, let us look at their direct benefits, which are many:
- Increased strength: We must not forget that the deadlift is one of the three primary powerlifting exercises. Naturally, regular deadlifting leads to increased strength. The exercise engages multiple different muscle groups which lead to an overall strength improvement. No wonder strongmen are fond of deadlifts and there are full blown deadlifting competitions.
- Improved neurological adaptations: Deadlift requires sudden bursts of energy. In that single moment, the brain has to control so many things – release of energy, muscular movement, spine movement, maintaining balance and much more. It is therefore not surprising to learn that deadlifts lead to improved neuro-muscular control.
- Stronger core: The core is basically the torso region of the human body. Our core has an important role to play during the three phases of the deadlift. It works to keep the spine straight and helps coordinate the muscles. It also helps with weight distribution and balance. Naturally, people who regularly deadlift end up with a stronger core.
- Muscle buildup: This one is quite straightforward. Deadlift engages multiple muscle groups. Abdomen, shoulders, biceps, back, hips and the spinal muscle are all engaged to generate the powerful force needed to complete the exercise. With time, we see that the muscles improve and even start to grow bigger.
- Improves posture: Deadlift requires one to be in a perfect posture when performing the exercise. The spine, hips and the back must be straight while the shoulders must be a little bit squeezed back. In this way, deadlift eventually improves your posture. An unfixed bad posture will lead to back if left untreated for longer periods.
What Deadlifts Don’t Do
Even though there are so many benefits of deadlifts, there are certain things which we should not expect from the exercise.
- Muscle definition: If you are into bodybuilding, you want the best looking, well sculpted look. Deadlifts unfortunately do not help with improving muscle definition. Deadlifts will help you make the muscles bigger, but the muscles will grow bigger on their own terms. You shouldn’t expect well defined ‘cuts’ or the 3D look just by doing deadlifts alone.
- Engaging specific muscle groups: As must be clear to you by now, deadlifts are a ‘group’ exercise, i.e., it engages a group of muscles of the body. As a bodybuilder you want to work on different muscle groups and improve how each body part looks. Deadlifts simply do not offer that kind of precision on the muscles.
- It does not build any appreciable amount of muscle: Again, deadlift is a powerlifting exercise. Powerlifting exercises are designed to improve strength. Sure, an increase in strength will naturally mean that your muscles will grow. But, in comparison to other bodybuilding exercises, the muscle gain is not appreciable.
Will Deadlifts Make You Bigger?
Now that we understand what exactly deadlifts are, their benefits, and what they cannot do, it becomes easy for us to answer our original question. Will deadlifts make you bigger? The answer is yes – but with a condition.
Deadlifts are quite good for building raw strength. They are also good for improving posture and other benefits. But we must keep in mind that the exercise is primarily designed to improve strength and strength alone. There will be gains in muscle mass, but not as much as you might expect as a bodybuilder.
Deadlifts help the body release HGT, the human growth hormone. Growth hormone helps the cells of the body use energy to repair themselves and grow in return. What is the condition then? Just keep in mind to not rely on deadlifts alone for all your muscle gains. This is because the exercise is primarily designed for improving strength and not gaining muscles.
The deadlift is quite a famous exercise no doubt. But before we start with anything it is important to know the benefits and gains we are likely to get from the exercise. This is so we can ascertain if the gains we are getting align with our overall goal.
In the case of deadlift, improved strength and muscular coordination are the main benefits. If you are instead looking for high muscle definition or improved muscle size, it is best to to not rely on deadlifts alone.
Deadlifts are great for making you bigger, improving your frame, and getting you a bigger stature- but if you want leg aesthetics, you will have to include some other exercises such as leg extensions to get those chiseled quads.