The deadlift is a foundational movement for strength and power.  Hall of Fame Powerlifter Brad Gillingham shares his top 3 reasons why you should include this lift in your training program.

The deadlift is possibly the most misunderstood strength training exercise. Many misinformed athletes believe the deadlift is bad for the back.  In reality, when performed correctly, the deadlift will actually strengthen the lower back and help to prevent back injury. The deadlift trains grip strength, hamstrings, adductors, quadriceps, gluteus muscles, erector spinae, trapezius, calves and just about every other muscle in the body.  Deadlifts and variations of the deadlift are found in most strength training programs where increasing muscle mass and muscle hypertrophy are the goals. It’s the purest raw test of overall body strength. The goals of an athlete preparing for his/her competition season may be a little different from a competitive powerlifter or strongman athlete, but nonetheless the deadlift in its execution and purpose to build overall strength and body mass are the same. The deadlift it is a movement that can be utilized to increase strength, speed and muscular development. 

Deadlifting Will Make You Stronger

Deadlifting is the king of exercises for strengthening the posterior chain. Numerous champion athletes regularly deadlift. Kyle Snyder, NCAA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Wrestler, includes a large diet of heavy deadlifts in his training [5].  NBA Superstar Stephen Curry can deadlift over 400 lbs. His teammates and coaches give a lot of credit for his success on the basketball court to his extra work in the weight room [2].  The deadlift is also an important exercise to include in football training programs. According to Mckeon [4], the deadlift is the best exercise for building football strength and speed.

The deadlift is the purest raw test of overall body strength in strength athletic events. It is the third discipline combined with the squat and bench press in powerlifting contests. There is a well-used phrase in powerlifting circles “the meet doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor.” It is a popular lift in most strongman competitions. The deadlift is my favorite lift, and my strongest movement. It helped me win six IPF World Championships.

Deadlifting Will Make You Faster

Several experts in developing track and field speed have indicated that deadlifting will make you faster. For the mid to long distance runner, deadlifts will strengthen the posterior chain, specifically the hamstrings and glutes, which are primary muscles for running. This facilitates improvements in running form, running economy, running power, and prevention of running injuries [3]. World Class sprinters have also benefited from deadlift training . According to Clark [1], American sprinter Tyson Gay, who once defeated the legendary Usain Bolt, utilized deadlifting to build his base strength.

Deadlifting Will Make You Bigger

Bodybuilders who want to add muscle and pack on back thickness, incorporate the deadlift into their training routines. You can always tell which bodybuilders have been deadlifting by the development of their inner back muscles. Just ask seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger,.  Arnold routinely pulled over 700 lbs and believes the best way to build muscle mass is to perform multi-joint exercises. He indicated that one of the most valuable exercise to build upper and lower body mass is the deadlift [6]. Ronnie Coleman followed Arnold’s advice,  deadlifting over 800 lbs. and winning 8 Mr. Olympia titles.

Start Deadlifting

There are several different forms of deadlifting.  The two methods that are used in powerlifting competition are the narrow stance, which is called a conventional deadlift, and the wide stance aka sumo deadlift.  Various odd bars and implements are used in strongman events to create different deadlifts.  Athletes can also train variations of the deadlift with the trap bar, Romanian deadlifts (RDLs), power rack partial deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, speed deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, and banded deadlifts. If you are not incorporating some type of deadlifting into your workout, I would suggest that you do.  Make sure to keep Mastery of Technique in mind whenever starting a new exercise.  It is important to learn proper technique before pushing your limits. 

Stay Strong!

Brad Gillingham, CSCS | Team myHMB Athlete


  1. Clark, Z. (2012, June 1). Tyson Gay: Running back.
  2. Davis, S. (2016, February 11). Stephen Curry took his game to another level by mastering an intense routine of core and leg exercises. .
  3. Fetters, A. (2019, June 11). 6 Deadlifts that will make you a better athlete.
  4. Mckeon, J. (2018). Top 10 exercises for football strength and speed. .
  5. Muscle Madness. (2017 April 9).
  6. Schwarzenegger, A. (2020). Arnold Schwarzenegger: Dead on target. .
Hall of Fame Powerlifter Brad Gillingham

Brad Gillingham

Brad Gillingham is a Hall of Fame Powerlifter who is a 6-time IPF World Powerlifting Champion and has more than 30 IPF World Championship medals under his belt.  Brad is the co-owner of Jackals Gym where he coaches a variety of athletes.  Brad is also strength and conditioning coach for wrestling and volleyball at Southwest Minnesota State University.


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