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How to Do a Deadlift

Experts Agree — This May Be the Number 1 Strength-Training Move For Weight Loss

Whatever your goals are, whether it's weight loss, becoming a faster runner or biker, or purely to look good in your jeans, there deadlift is one exercise you need in your workout routine. CSCS-certified trainer Audra Wilson, who also happens to be a registered dietitian, said, "I would recommend strength-training exercises that use major muscle groups for weight loss." She added that deadlifts not only target the legs and butt, but they're actually a compound move that also calls upon the back, abs, and upper body for support.

"All compound exercises are excellent for fat loss. You will build muscle on your entire body, and your metabolism will increase in the long run," added ACE-certified trainer Rachel MacPherson. Eventually as you get stronger, you're able to lift very heavy weights when deadlifting, and Rachel said "the effort required to do this will increase your heart rate and metabolism and burn fat."

The basic deadlift is also a functional movement because there will be plenty of instances in life where lifting something off the ground safely is necessary, like rearranging your living room furniture for the umpteenth time, picking up a baby or a pet, or hoisting that case of Pellegrino wine off the palate and into your Costco cart. There are many variations of this functional exercise; check out these deadlift variations to see how the popular Romanian deadlift differs from the basic deadlift described below.

If you're new to strength training, or you don't have access to a barbell, you can do deadlifts with dumbbells or holding a kettlebell. Whatever weight you use, focus on form first with light weights, then gradually increase the weight as you're ready.


  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Push your butt back as you bend your knees, grasping the barbell with your hands just outside the hips, with the shoulders slightly in front of the bar. Have both palms facing you, or if it feels more comfortable (or you're lifting very heavy), turn one palm facing out. Keep your back straight, not curved or arched. Your chest should be parallel with the floor.

  • Stand up, raising the hips and shoulders at the same time, lifting the barbell off the floor so the bar moves over the middle of both feet.
  • Keep the heels down and make sure to fully extend the hips and knees to straighten the legs. This completes one rep.
Image Source: Getty / alvarez
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