A long standing exercise that is the base of many other gym based, sports, and lifestyle movements. Fitness instructors learn to teach the deadlift on the level 2 fitness instructor course (gym). Fitness instructors and personal trainers should take time mastering this exercise before trying other variations. It is a fantastic exercise that helps strengthen the posterior chain (muscles on the back of the body). Supporting good posture; reducing risks of a back injury, and has several transferable benefits to sport and a healthy lifestyle. To understand the benefits of the deadlift, personal trainers and fitness instructors need to know which muscles the deadlift specifically works.


Your hamstrings are located in the back of your thigh, and are a group of three muscles; Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosis, and Semimembranosis. The hamstring group flex the knee and extend the hips.


Your quadriceps are located on the front of your thigh. Quad, meaning four, reminds us that the quadriceps have for individual muscles; Rectus Femoris, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus medialis, and Vastus Lateralis. This group functions to extend the knee


Located on the rear of the pelvic, the glutes or buttocks actually refer to three muscles; Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus. This team of muscles provide abduction of the hip (raising to the side), external (lateral) rotation, and medial (internal) rotation.

Erector Spinae

Your erector spinae weave up the vertebrae of your spine.The word spinae refers to the spine and consist of three groups of muscles; erector spinalis, erector longissimus, and erector iliocostalis

Erector Spinalis Group: Spinalis Capitus, Spinalis Cervicus, and Spinalis Thoracis.

Erector Loongissimus Group: Longisimus Capitus, Longissimus Cervicus, and Longissimus Thoracis.

Ererctor Iliocostalis Group: Iliocastalis Cervicus, Iliocastalis Thoracis, and Iliocostalis Lumborum.

Longissimus and Lumborum are the stronger of the groups as they support larger sections of the spine (thoracic, lumbar, and cervical). The spinalis group supports the upper portion of the thoracic region and the base of the skull, this group has smaller muscle fibres and is not required to be as strong as Longissimus and Lumborum. The second part of each name of the spinae group refers to the section of the spine they support. The erector spinae group work together to extend the back (extension), and lateral flexion (side bending).

Two Types of Deadlift

The deadlift has a number of variations that can be grouped into bent leg and straight leg groups. The bent leg variations work the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and erector spinae group. The straight leg variations remove the quadriceps from the exercise as the knee remains extended keeping the quadriceps in an isometric contraction. In this position the quadriceps work to maintain knee extension, shifting more focus to the hamstrings and glutes, taking on more of the load.


The deadlift is a staple compound exercise working multiple muscles in the same movement. It is a posterior dominant exercise, working muscles on the back of the body responsible for posture and movement. Strong posterior muscles prevent injury of the back; lower back pain, and provide a number of athletic benefits in sport for running; jumping, sprinting, and many other sport specific movements.


Care should be taken with the straight leg variations if the lower back is unflexible. Rounding of the lower back puts the intervertebral discs under increased pressure and increased risk of injury. A shorter range of movement can be used until flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings is achieved, tight hamstrings are typical with reduced flexibility in the lower back. A slight knee bend can be used at the bottom of a straight leg deadlift to help avoid strain on the lower back.

PT Skills provides fitness industry courses for fitness instructors and personal trainers. You can study to become a personal trainer via blended learning, a mixture of online study; home study and part time attendance on scheduled workshops. This blended learning approach is available to help develop your coaching skills, prepare you for exams and allow a flexible schedule of study. For more details on our level 2 gym course, level 3 gym courses, or how to become a personal trainer, please contact our enrolment team.