If your aim is to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, deadlifts are your best friend. In this article we explain the importance of this great exercise and also proper deadlift form.
So what makes deadlifts so great? Along with barbell squats, the deadlift is one of the most effective weight lifting exercises you can possibly have in your workout routine.
They require huge amounts of strength and energy to perform, and will stress your entire body like no other lift. The main muscles worked during deadlifts are the lower back, upper back, and your thighs, but they will also work almost every other muscle group you have so you will see muscle gains everywhere.
Also, just as with doing squats, performing heavy deadlifts will force your body to produce extra growth hormone and testosterone since they stress the body so much (this is a good thing). This will increase your strength levels on other exercises such as the bench press and barbell row.
So if they are so good for you, why isn't everybody in the gym deadlifting? Simple put, they are perhaps the most uncomfortable and painful exercise to perform. They requrie a lot of willpower and dicipline. Just like with doing squats, people will make excuses to steer clear of including the deadlift in their routine.
Those with the determination to achieve the best muscle building results will do deadlifts without hesitation, and learn the proper deadlift technique. You simply won't get the same muscle building results without them in your arsenal.
Ok, here I will explain how you should be performing deadlifts correctly. There's a few different variations of the deadlift, but I will be explaining how to perform a standard, bent-legged deadlift.
Before starting, place the barbell on the ground. Stand in front of the bar with your shins as close to the bar as possible. Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart.
Grip the bar about shoulder width apart. You can grip it with either an overhand grip, or an alternate grip with one palm facing out and the other palm facing in. Choose whichever is more comfortable to you.
Get into a squat position and make sure the bar is close to your shins. Now, whilst keeping your back as flat as possible, your abs tight, and your head looking upwards, lift the bar up off the ground by pushing with your legs. This is important, lift with your legs, not your back!
You should lift the bar up like this until you are in a standing position. Here's a tip: when lifting the weight up, think of pushing your heels through the floor.
Ok now that you are standing with the bar, lower it back down to the starting squat position by following the same path as when you lifted it up.
You can rest the bar on the ground for a second or two, and then lift it up back up again. Repeat this until you get to your desired number of reps or until your deadlift form starts to slip. Don't continue with poor form because you have a high chance of injury, especially if the weight is heavy.
You need to be careful with deadlifts, a lot of back injuries occur with lifters doing them with poor form. It's absolutely critical that you exercise with good deadlift technique, otherwise you will be out of the gym and into a wheelchair in no time!
When you're just starting out with the exercise, or practicing your form, remember to use light weights. When you begin to get the hang of good deadlift form, then you can start lifting heavier weights.
If I had to repeat something to you about correct deadlift technique, it would be:
Always remember to keep your back flat, abs tight, and look straight/upwards slightly.
You may be wondering how many sets you should do and how often you should do them. I would recommend that you perform deadlifts once a week. 2-3 heavy sets should do the trick for you. Remember to do a few warm-up sets with a light weight first, and you might want to add some streching before and after too.
Now you understand the importance of the deadlift, and you know the proper deadlift form, you have no excuses not to add them to your weight training routine. You will be able to pack on more muscle mass than ever before!
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land. Information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly-structured, intelligently-crafted (based on science-backed principles) and overall well-balanced strength training and nutrition plan to effetcively build muscle as a skinny guy (AKA a lifting hardgainer). When you have a great program used by other successful hardgainers that have gone before you, you can't go wrong if you simply stick with it.
But here's the thing:
You don't just randomly stumble upon a highly-effective program that's designed specifically for hardgainers by simply browsing a popular fitness magazine, site, or forum (or asking your average run of the mill personal trainer at a local gym who is highly likely to be just repeating the same old ineffective, incomplete mainstream advice they learned in the classroom). No, instead, to create the best weight training and nutrition program for maximum results, you must be a little more selective in the program you choose to follow.
So, here are the 3 different paths you can take to guarantee you follow a finely-tuned, effective program that will leave nothing to chance and give you the best muscle building and strength gains of your life (again, if you simply execute and don't quit after a mere week 'cause you don't notice a change...).
See our flagship 7-step introductory guide to building muscle for beginners which covers all the basics you need to know, and guides you through designing and creating an effective program for muscle gain without getting fat. If you don't want to spend any money buying a pre-made program or finding a (good) personal trainer, and/or you're the DIY type who enjoys researching every little detail and knowing about how everything works and fits together, this is probably the path for you if you have the patience.
If you don't want to take the time to plan your own natural bodybuilding plan from scratch, following an already made, high-quality, credible program from a true expert in this field can save you a ton of time.
It can give you a great head start on your transformation journey and makes things a whole lot simpler as it's simply a matter of understanding what the program involves, how to do perform all the exercises, how to execute on the included meal plans (taking into account your own perferences as you'll want to tweak any pre-made diet plan for your own needs), and then simply executing week in and week out.
Sean Nal's popular hardgainer program is the one I currently recommend most, as it's the most complete, easy to follow program for beginners that I've seen (and I've experimented with many over the years). It's also the exact program that initially changed everything for me and I owe a fair part of my overall hardgainer success (going from 132lbs/60kg to 220lbs/100kg - mostly muscle) to being fortunate enough to having stumbled upon this program when I was struggling with gaining weight and building muscle. See my full review of Sean Nal's program here.
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer
This isn't for everyone though as a quality trainer who knows what they're doing, and most importantly has got great results themselves (ideally starting out in similar shoes to you) can be quite costly. This is the path you should probably really consider if you have any type of serious injury though.
Whichever path you choose, never forget the single most important thing: never give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and self-confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but if you really understand that last sentence, you're not gonna need it, friend. I wish you nothing but success.
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)