Muscles Involved in the Conventional Deadlift

When it comes to building strength, there are 2 huge, controllable factors that determine strength.  They are, in order of importance, neuromuscular coordination and muscle size.  Neuromuscular coordination is the ability of your brain, nerves, and muscles to work together efficiently to produce a movement pattern.  In everyday language we might refer to this as one’s technique or skill.  The second key part is muscle size, otherwise known as the cross sectional area of the muscle.  Think of muscles as the engine in a car; muscles are what makes the body go.  Neuromuscular coordination is like the driver of the car.

Listed below is a table of the muscles that are involved in the conventional deadlift.  They are ranked on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most involved and a 1 being the barely involved at all.  It should be logical to have a strong conventional deadlift you must make the muscles that are going to move that weight stronger.


Muscle Contribution
Erectors and Multifidus 5
Glute Maximus 4
Glute Med/Min(Abductors) 2
Quads 3.5
Hamstrings 4
Adductors (Magnus) 3
Trapezius 4
Rhomboids 3
Lats 2
Posterior Deltoids 2
Biceps 2
Forearm Flexors (Grip) 4
Core (Abs, Obliques) 2
Gastroc 1
Hip Flexors 1

Note: It is possible that individual variation, biomechanics, and form might make a muscle work either a little bit more or a little bit less involved based on how the lift is perform.


If you believe that increasing the size of your muscles will help improve the deadlift, then focus on training the muscles that received a 3 or more on the above scale.  Give it 3, 6, even 12 months of hard training.  Track your progress and try to establish your own personal correlation between your muscle size and your performance on the platform.   It is worth noting that because the deadlift requires force to cross the most stable major joint in powerlifting (the spine/hip) adding size doesn’t tend to have the same impact to the lift as it might other lifts (particularly the bench).  This is why this lift is the typically the least affected by any change in bodyweight.  However bigger and stronger engines (traps, glutes, erectors, hamstrings, forearms) that help move and control the conventional deadlift can still significantly improve performance.

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4 thoughts on “Muscles Involved in the Conventional Deadlift

  1. Laine Norton

    Very nice article.

    I really like the table of muscle involvement ratings, it’s a great idea.

    I have actually linked to your post as an extra resource on my deadlift guide article, I hope you don’t mind me doing so.


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