How do you build an all-around powerful, and muscular physique?

Well there is one exercise that is head and shoulders above the rest and that is the deadlift.

Many would argue that compound exercises such as squats are more beneficial but deadlifting is one of the best compound exercises you can do to increase strength and muscle mass. It works virtually every muscle, with emphasis on the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and most muscles of the back and also the forearms.

As well as increasing muscle and strength another great reason for deadlifting is the release of testosterone and growth hormone, as studies have shown that compound lifts like the deadlift use the most muscle groups hence they release the most of test and GH.

You can’t get more basic than lifting a heavy weight from the floor but there is an art to the deadlift and I will be detailing how to perform the deadlift correctly and safely.

DEADLIFT (with knees bent)


1. Place the barbell on the ground and attach weights to it according to your strength and fitness level.

2. Feet should be approximately shoulder width apart and under the bar pointing forward or slightly outward.

3. Squat down and grasp the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart (on the outside of your legs). Although you can use any grip you’re comfortable with, an alternate grip is recommended. An alternate grip is where, when you grasp the bar, one of your palms is facing you and the other is facing away from you.

4. Lower your hips so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you lower your hips, be sure to keep the lower part of your legs mostly vertical. Use the weight for leverage to maintain your balance. You want the angle between your foot and your lower leg to be close to 90 degrees.

5. Flatten your back and look straight ahead and maintain the arch of your back as if you’re bent over, you’re going to hurt your lower back.

6. Lift the bar off the ground by standing up, raising your hips and shoulders at the same rate and maintaining a flat back. The weight should hang with your arms straight. Come to a standing position with upright posture as the bar should not arch around your knees.

7. Now lower the bar in a controlled manner back to the starting position, keeping the back straight as you’re still supporting the weight.

3 sets: 12-15 reps


Straight leg deadlifts, are a great compound exercise but if done in a certain way it can isolate either your lower back or hamstrings.


1. Hold a barbell and come up to a standing position

2. Keeps you legs close together and facing forward

3. Bend forward from the waist, with your back straight, until your torso is parallel to the floor, the bar should now be hanging at arms length below you.

Lower back isolation:

In order to work the lower back the bar does not need to come all the way down, the bar just below the knees should be sufficient. Now straighten up by pulling your shoulders and arch your spine back until the bar is upright again. Now continue the same movement for the rest of your set.

Hamstring isolation:

In order to isolate the hamstrings the bar will need to come down a lot lower, if using an Olympic bar then stand on a block to get more height and elevation. The bar should only be a few mm from the floor and you should feel a stretch in the hams. When coming up push through the your heels and bring the bar back up, but again not all the way. Bring the bar up just above your knees, then repeat for the remainder of your set.

3 sets: 12-15 reps

Once you become comfortable with the amount of weight, start to increase it by 10-20% and lower the rep range by 1-2 reps. Building your strength will be a gradual process so don’t get disheartened and try to perform your 1 rep max once a month.