Deadlifts are often classed as a full-body or integrated exercise because they hit so many muscle groups, but one of the main areas they focus on is your glutes. Your glutes are used a lot in sporting activities such as running and jumping, and deadlifts are one of the best exercises to train these functions, claims Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. However, to perform deadlifts correctly, your glute muscles need to be firing properly, which is something many people struggle with.
Maintain a flat back throughout the entire lift. Rounding your back will not only potentially lead to injury but also reduces the amount of work your glutes can do because all of the tension is placed on your spinal erector muscles. Start the deadlift with your hips pushed back and your head and chest up. Squeeze your core muscles and glutes hard and pull the bar forcefully off the ground, making sure your back doesn't round or your head and chest drop.
Push your hips through hard at the top of the movement and squeeze your glutes hard, advises Tony Gentilcore, trainer at Cressey Performance. Think about standing tall and finishing the exercise with your glutes. Your glutes are most active in the final part of the deadlift, adds Bret Contreras, author of "Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening." That final few inches needs to be all about keeping your glutes as tight as possible.
Add glute-focused ancillary exercise into your routine. One of the best options for this is an extra-wide sumo deadlift, says Mike Robertson, powerlifter and owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. These place more tension on your hips and glutes, boosting glute strength on your regular deadlifts. Another option is rack pulls, where you perform deadlifts with the same technique as usual but from an elevated position by placing the weight plates on boxes or starting with the bar at shin-height in a power rack. Do one deadlift ancillary workout each week.
Take your shoes off. This means the bar has less distance to travel so you don't have to bend down quite so low to start the exercise and engages your glutes more, according to Gentilcore. If your gym won't allow this, buy a pair of deadlifting slippers, flat-soled pumps or minimalist running shoes.
- Ask a qualified trainer or powerlifting coach to assess your form if you're not sure of the correct deadlifting technique.
- Check with your health-care provider before starting a deadlift program.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.