Barbell Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is a compound exercise used to develop overall strength and size in the posterior chain. It is a competition lift in the sport of powerlifting, but is also considered a classic benchmark of overall strength. When performed with the hands outside the knees, it is often called a "conventional" deadlift. When the feet are wide and the hands are inside the knees, it is a sumo deadlift.


  1. Primarily targets the back, hamstrings, and glutes, but also brings in the lats, traps, and forearms
  2. Builds core strength and stability
  3. Can be beneficial even at light or moderate weights
  4. Simple to scale for non-powerlifters by raising the bar to where someone can perform it without flexing their lower back
  5. If grip is a limitation, it can be performed with a mixed grip or using straps

Barbell Deadlift Images


Barbell Deadlift Instructions

Barbell Deadlift muscle diagram
  1. Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder-width allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Typically, you would use an alternating grip.
  2. With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
  3. After the bar passes the knees aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  4. Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.