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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet

What’s going on, guys? Sean Nalewanyj at the question
today, a pretty common one: Are deadlifts necessary to perform as part of a muscle building
training program? Now, this can be sort of a tricky question
to answer because deadlifts have always been considered as a staple exercise that every
single lifter in the gym should be doing. Some people will say that you can’t build
a great physique without them and there’s just sort of a lot of emotional investment
in the deadlift in general, both squats and deadlifts have become sort of a central part
of fitness culture and they tend to bettered like as a symbol of toughness or as a way
of measuring yourself against other lifters. So I know that some people will immediately
recoil at what I’m going to say in this video but it’s important to look at these
things with an open mind and not just automatically assume things about a certain exercise without
looking at it logically and objectively. Now, the truth is that whether or not you
should include a conventional deadlift in your program completely depends on you and
on what your specific training goals are. Not everybody needs to them and not everybody
should do them because everybody trains for different reasons and has different preferences
and physical limitations. Some people will train for power lifting,
some train for bodybuilding, some do a combination of both, and believe it or not some people
train for endurance. Outside the bodybuilding and fitness community,
not everyone puts their value on raw muscle size and strength. Some people care more about overall conditioning,
some people train for athletic performance and all those people do it to varying degree
of seriousness. So this idea that you must squat, or you must
deadlift, or it just means that you’re a huge pussy who doesn’t even lift is honestly
a very narrow minded way of looking at it in my opinion. Bottom line here is: what are your goals,
what are you trying to achieve, and which movements in the gym are appropriate for you
in order to meet those goals. So if you’re a powerlifter then obviously
you need to deadlift. If you train for athletic performance then
that’s also a different story. If you like deadlifting purely for the sake
of deadlifting because you enjoy challenging yourself to see how much you can pull, then
go ahead and deadlift. But for those whose main goal in the gym is
to gain muscle and to build their physique are deadlifts necessary? I would say no. they aren’t something that you have to perform,
and not only that but there are some possible downside as well, which I’ll mention here
in a second. I think that a stiff legged deadlift, or a
Romanian deadlift is a good movement to include for the hamstrings but it’s still not mandatory. But I do recommend that you do them if you
can. But in terms of regular, conventional deadlifts,
no you don’t have to do them and by default I don’t actually include them in most bodybuilding
programs that I design. The deadlift does allow you to move a large
amount of weight and train a lot of different muscle groups at the same time, which most
people will mention as the main reason for doing them. However, in the context of an overall lifting
program that includes various movements to directly target each individual muscle that
isn’t necessarily going to improve your results. If you were on like a minimalist type of program
and you wanted to be as efficient as possible in the gym, then it would make sense to include
them. But all of the individual muscles that the
deadlift trains can actually be hit more effectively just by using direct exercises for those muscles. So the deadlift basically hits a lot of different
muscles but it disperses the stress between all of them to where it doesn’t hit any
one particular muscle in a way that can be done better using other movements that a typical
bodybuilding program will already include. For example if you’re already performing
squats in your program then your quads are going to be hit a lot harder that way in comparison
to a deadlift. Even a light press will probably hit your
quads, well not probably, it would hit your quads more effectively. If you’re doing a stiff legged or a Romanian
deadlift then your hamstrings are going to be more directly overloaded that way. Both of those exercises are also going to
hit your glutes as well and hi thrusts are probably going to hit your glutes harder than
any of those exercises will anyway. So in terms of lower body training , conventional
deadlifts really aren’t needed and keep in mind that squats and Romanian deadlifts
are also going to hit your lower back muscles hard as well. And then in terms of your mid and upper back,
which is what most bodybuilders used the deadlift for, if you’re already doing a standard
program that includes direct back movements like pull ups, pull downs for the lats, rows
and shrugs for the mid and upper back, face pulls as well, you’re already going to training
all of the muscles of your back effectively using direct movement that directly target
them. Not to mention that the deadlift really only
hits the upper back hard toward the top half of the movement anyway. So if anything, if you do want to hone in
on the upper back and trap area a bit more, you’re probably going to be better off to
eliminate the bottom half of the exercise anyway, where it’s mainly your lower body
doing the work and then just go ahead and perform rack pulls instead. That would make sense in my view than performing
a full conventional deadlift off the floor if you’re using it to specifically target
your back. Now, like I’d mention before it’s not
just a question of whether or not you need deadlifts in your routine but in terms of
a pure bodybuilding program it’s actually a few possible drawbacks to performing them. The main one being that they’re just very,
very taxing on your body as a whole because you’re using so many different muscles and
you’re handling really heavy weights. So they’re going to it your CNS pretty hard
and just take a lot out of you in general. The downside of that is that you might end
up draining your energy early on in your workout which could reduce your strength on your other
direct exercises that you’re doing. Or it might also reduce the total amount of
volume that you’re able to do as well. The other issue is that you could end up increasing
the amount of time it takes for you to properly recover in between the training sessions. And that might mean that you’re not able
to directly train certain muscles as frequently as you’d otherwise be able to. And then the other possible downside is the
issue of overlap throughout the week. For example if you know that squats and Romanian
deadlifts are going to hit your quads and hamstrings better than regular deadlifts will
then by performing regular deadlifts during your week, your legs and lower back are going
to end up pre fatigue which could impact your performance on your actual legs workouts,
or it could also interfere with recovery if you’re doing deadlifts in the days after. So in that case by having your back workouts
purely dedicated to direct back exercises your legs and lower back are going to be able
to recover and are going to be more fresh for things like squats or Romanian deaddlifts,
leg presses, et cetera. So bottom line, are deadlifts necessary to
build muscle? I don’t think a conventional deadlift is
necessary in a bodybuilding program if yoru goal is to gain muscle and you don’t have
any specific desire to perform them. If you like doing deadlifts just for the sake
of doing it and you want to include them for some reason then that’s fine the drawbacks
that I just mention there are not guarantees. They’re just a few possible things to keep
in mind. But this idea that you must perform deadlifts,
or that you can’t build muscle optimally without them just isn’t true and that type
of dogmatism can actually be dangerous because it might end up convincing someone who shouldn’t
be performing deadlifts because maybe they have lower back issues, it might end up convincing
that person to do them anyway and they might end up hurting themselves. Which is another thing that I should mention,
if you have lower back issues that are aggravated by performing deadlifts then I definitely
wouldn’t recommend trying to power through it. if you’re not a powerlifter then forcing
yourself to deadlift despite the injury risk is really not going to be a smart idea and
you’re just going to be best off to scarp them, at least temporarily or until your injury
has definitely healed up. Injury prevention should always be treated
as a primary concern in your program and it’s something that most lifters just don’t pay
enough attention to. And any program that you’re following has
to take into account not just the muscle building effectiveness of that program but also how
sustainable it’s going to be over the long term. And one final point because I;m sure some
people will mention this is the idea that deadlifts increase testosterone. For muscle building purposes this is actually
a non issue because they won’t increase testosterone by a large enough margin or sustain
the increase overtime long enough in order for it to have any real impact on hypertrophy. And I’ll like a post that I did on that
in the description box below if you do want more information. So, I hope this was useful guys. If building a lean and muscular body is your
primary goal and you want a complete plan that shows you exactly how to maximize your
gains using a well rounded sequence of lifts that hits all the major muscles and optimizes
recovery, then you can check out my Body Transformation Blueprint by clicking here or by visiting That’s going to lay everything out step-by-step
including the workouts, meal plans, supplement guides and one-one-one coaching. Make sure to like the video, leave a comment
and subscribe if you enjoyed it. the official website is and
you can follow me here on social media if you aren’t already. Thanks for watching, guys. And I will see you in the next video.

100 thoughts on “Are Deadlifts Necessary To Build Muscle?

  1. It's definitely the hair but you seem to look happier as well. 😁

    About the deadlifts, you're absolutely right. I excluded that one about a year ago from my regular exercises and only use it incidental as a tool.

  2. Sean…. i find the deadlift very difficult to do with proper form every rep and when you are lifting heavy weights off the floor you need perfect form every time. I just don't feel comfortable doing them. The barbell squat is a different animal and i have no problem doing it with good form. But that's just me.

  3. I often check your channel just to see if your subscribes have increased. You are doing a great job and you deserve as much subscribers as Athlean-X. All the best. <3

  4. If you don't do deadlifts, at least do romanian deadlifts! 😀
    It's better for stimulating hamstrings rather than conventional deadlifts. 🙂

  5. Your videos are always good Sean, thanks. And keep up the good work. Also, I second what @SANKARA said, video on rack pulls would be awesome.

  6. great advice as usual sean,,,,,"v" bar rows and heavy cable rows coupled with facepull and lat pulldowns is the base of my back workout,,i found deadlifts to target my glutes more than my back,,,thats just me,,we all different,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,hope you ll get to 100k subsciber soon sean,,,,peace,,out

  7. Some people train just to look good for the girls, that's me I just want look strong, I already know I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover😊

  8. Thanks for the vid Sean, currently cutting right now and Conventional has been so taxing on my nervous system that I switched to Sumo just recently. Also, what are your thoughts on squats as well in terms of it being necessary to build muscle? I'd say the low-bar squat can be just as draining as the conventional (to a certain extent).

  9. So Sean, is it pointless to do bb squats if you can't go below parallel? Did you do a vid on this already? Thanks for the solid info.

  10. I have noticed that since I've started doing deadlifts (sumo style), the "Venus dimples" and upper glute muscles where my lower back meets my butt have become more pronounced. I never noticed this as much with squats or other glute exercises. It's effect is similar to the four way hip extension machine in that it works that region of the upper glute/lower back. So maybe it can play a big role if someone is going after aesthetics and not just powerlifting 🤔…

    Honesty… my leg day has always revolved around the glutes. I place more emphasis on dead lifts that squats these days in my routine. I do:

    – four way hip extension
    -sumo deadlifts
    – squats

    Squats feel like they are hurting my knees more, so that's another reason why I like to do deadlifts over squats.

    I'm recovering from a neurological syndrome called Guillain Barre so now I'll have to be careful not go to heavy on the weight, I don't want to shock my cns and relapse 🌀🤢

  11. sean I'm doing a 12 week transformation challenge. I'm 5'10", 175lbs, 22%BF. my goal is to get lean and put on as much muscle as possible. do you have a program that can help me?

  12. Only been lifting a year and my back has gotten rediculous. I mainly focused on the compound lifts when I started especially deadlifts. Really has made me strong overall. Went from 168 to 214 in a year this past Wednesday. Trying to cut to around 200. Have some belly fat but not much. Sorry for rambling. Just wanted to say I love deadlifts. Oh and i need to update my picture

  13. i don't deadlift the reason why i use bad form and snap my lower back :/. but thats my fault , deadlift are good if done right

  14. Another great video. A few years ago I hurt my lower back doing conventional deadlifts but have recovered fine and since then I've been reluctant to do them. After finishing my first cut and losing some strength I've added back in rack pulls for upper back work as you mentioned in this video. So far its been working well and I am considering adding back sumo deadlifts instead of rack pulls. What do you think?

  15. what an informative video … been looking for a bloody explanation to this for ages…. being so tall i hate deadlifts so its rack pulls for me all the way

  16. I do Romanian DL's sometimes… but mostly squats
    Conventional DL is kinda draining… I don't know how to explain it… I just get really fatigued & it's just that exercise that does it.

  17. the best channel on youtube fitness. nice to see subscriber base growing. would love to see a higher frequency of videos

  18. I don't have a back injury, but I always appreciate and respect when vloggers/youtubers precaution anyone with a back injury. It shows tact, care for viewers.

    Thanks Sean 👍
    Great 2017 to you

  19. I like deadlifts only because they shock the body into forcing natural hormonal output in one high stress movement, with a close second being squats especially with dumbbells instead of a bar on your back.

  20. Very good,totally agree.I do deadlifts because they help piriformis syndrome,which I have and build good functional muscle and burn fat .But they aren't necessary for a great body..And they wear you out.. I think you're spot on..

  21. So I understand how you can perform directly targeted movements for stronger individual muscles rather than deadlift working multiple muscles but I'm curious what you think about this: Because I tend to lift items (landscaper – lifting heavy stones, plants, tools, etc) off the ground in a similar way as with a deadlift movement, would a deadlift or individual muscle movements be better for strengthening? Thanks bro love the vids

  22. Dead lifting affected me negatively. I could hardly move the next day. I had back pains, knee pains and body fatigue which took me over 7days to recover. I'll STOP deadlifts for now. SQUATS, LUNGES and BULGARIAN SQUATS are ok

  23. The answer is absolutely NO. It's just a cult mentality. I know guys who only do upper body and have unreal physiques.

  24. I actually hurt myself doing deadlifts last week. This was a great video. I actually might try replacing them with romanians

  25. Damn man, I've found all these points to be an issue. Deadlifts fuck me more than anything and I can't find a way to get them into my program from an overlap point of view

  26. If you can't/don't deadlift and squat then you are wasting your time. If you are not TRAINING for strength. You are wasting your time. I'm 36 now. Isolation exercises will never develop you like those 2 compound lifts. I wish I knew this earlier.

  27. Sean, don't rack pulls essentially present the same issues for back development as deadlifts? The movement is still initiated with your hips/glutes with a rack pull, just with a shorter range of motion. The traps/erectors only contract at the top to stabilize the spine, but not the contraction/stimilation bodybuilders who do these are looking for. Rows, shrugs and back hyperextensions like you said hit the upper/mid back and spinal erectors hard and more effectively, just with much less energy spent. Thoughts? Seems like deadlifts and rack pulls are both a waste of time for bodybuilders.

  28. Ya it's crazy how a lot of guys deadlift heavy every week.. Since I reduced deadlifts to once every 3 weeks all my other lifts have increased.. It was destroying my cns

  29. Amazing video sean ! and u are right deadlift are not necessary ! hell there is no exercise that can not be repleced by another one ! But for me i love deadlifting and i train for strength and hypertrophy since i do a legs push pull off repeat each day i start with one of the big three and i other work after it so leg day i start with heavy squat and move on to other things , push day start with heavy bench and pull days start with heave deadlifts !

  30. I'm a 60 yr. old intermediate lifter. I do deadlifts, squats, leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, calves, twice / week. Do you think I should cut back on my leg workouts? What would be sensible well rounded lower body workout to build muscle but not overtax my body? Thanks!

  31. One of the great things about the deadlift is the integration of these different muscle groups and training these parts individually doesn’t do that.

  32. I never liked deadlifts or squats, i only do them if im training with someone else and i don't have a choice. Also, I've heard people say you need these compound movements in order to burn fat and get abs… but idk if there's any truth to that.

  33. Thanks Sean. Was looking for this information everywhere.

    I agree with you. My aim is aesthetics only.Deadlifts has benefits no doubts but Deadlifts is also a good way to injure your back. I have seen seasoned lifters injure their back by this exercise.

  34. Dead lifts will help alot quicker for strength but no there is no hidden strength only unlocked from deadlifts

  35. Deadlift is primarily a push exercise. You’re right in the fact it’s not amazing for hypertrophy however the sheer strength you can build will assist massively in other compound movements. Deadlift is the one exercise everything else should be built upon.

  36. Dead lifts and squats hurt my spine and back for days after the workout, I've had a bad back as long as i can remember. I dont recommend them if you have a bad back. It's a great exercise but if its going to damage ur back its not woth it.

  37. I just do deadlifts once a week to compensate for doing legs only once a week.

  38. I don’t deadlift due to a lower back injury in 2014 which has resulted in a tight posterior chain.

  39. I don’t like videos like this because it tries to be a one size fits all. Deadlifts might not be great for some but they might be great for others, everybody is different

  40. I personally think that the Deadlift is one of the best all round exercises you can do! Not only for strength, but for building an all round muscular physique.
    The Deadlift is a staple exercise of my full body routine.
    I would say that it should be performed with good form and technique to prevent injury.

  41. Hay to no estoy de acuerdo Contigo de llamarle a Las Personas que no levantan mucho peso un Pussy Respeta para que te respeten Chory! 🤣

  42. I tweaked my lower back dead-lifting a few weeks ago (not the first time) and now I can't squat until the injury heals.
    I only lift for aesthetics but dead lifted for all round strength but after this injury I think in future I am going to quit dead lifting for good and focus purely on building muscle.

  43. I like doing deadlifts just because I like hitting big numbers and building my strength/power. At the same time though, my spinal erectors are the strongpoint of my back, and I feel like deadlifts have played a big role in this, because I mostly do vertical pulling movements otherwise.

  44. Deadlifts aren’t necessary but you are missing out on an exercise that’ll make your whole body a lot stronger and more athletic. Do Deadlifts.

  45. Deadlift is a functional movement which is why it’s seen as one of the best. Sure, you can do leg curls, leg extensions and target those muscles harder; but in real life, your body doesn’t ever have the need to move like that.

  46. Dorian Yates: No deadlifts. No barbell bench press. Chew on that shit. Oh he also removed barbell squats from his program too. 🤯

  47. If I didn't know better, I'd say that you are trying to talk people out of doing deadlifts. Why? Deadlifts interfere with your leg presses? Really? How about leg presses being the exercise that should be optional! I agree with almost all of your videos but this one is not one of them. Novices should be doing deadlifts in my modest opinion because it teaches them some lifelong skills, like how to set their back, for example.

  48. Good informative video. You do not need to conventional deadlift to build muscle, but you DO need to conventional deadlift for over-all total body strength and power. It all depends on your weight-training preferences.

  49. "Squats and romanian deadlifts are going to hit your lower back as well"- Indeed they do. However, for me no other movement tugs my spinal-erectors and keeps them strong like the deadlift. Oh yeah, and the deadlift, if I stop doing them I become susceptible to lower back pain after about 18 months. This may seem counter intuitive, yet deadlifts completely remove my lower back pain when I go back to them. Takes about 2 weeks and 2 workouts with 3 working sets each workout. No kidding. And yes the first workout feels precarious. The second, not so much.

  50. There is no practical difference between stiff-leg and Romanian deadlifts. There is a debate as to which is the best exercise, and which targets your whole body, the squat or the deadlift.

  51. I think doing deadlifts is great but in moderation like the this guys said it hits your cns pretty hard and that’s what I noticed

  52. compound exercises lead to overall balanced development….which isolation doesn't..I personally experienced that…so good idea to deadlift, squat etc….
    but agree with sean…building a body needs no deadlift

  53. I agree with you Sean in that deadlifts are not necessary in a body building routine and there are far better ways of targeting individual muscles for hypertrophy but as much as I hate them, I still do them for functional strength purposes.

  54. I personally love Deadlifts and do plenty of them but you are 100% right. Deadlifts have huge pros but also a few huge cons

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