Today, let me give you my “Rulon Rules” to a Deadlift. Deadlifts are a fantastic overall workout, IF done correctly. I am a big fan of Romanian Deadlifts (RDL), but some athletes have a hard time doing the RDL’s due to tight hamstrings.

What muscles do deadlifts work? Boy, what muscles do they NOT work? Here you go:

  • Trapezius Muscle
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps (All 4 muscles)
  • Erector spinae – Stabilizers of the lower back
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques

Here is the video on how to do a deadlift in the “Rulon Racing” Pain Cave (Excuse the mess; still organizing!):

Here are “Five Key Points to a Deadlift”:

  1. Hand position for a deadlift: Either both hands are pronated (palm facing you) or one hand is supinated (palm away from you) and the other is pronated. (See video above).
  2. Shoulders, hips, and feet are all aligned. Notice that my hands are slightly outside my knees.
  3. Chest should stick out, or another way to think about it is to pull your scapulas toward your spine.
  4. When bringing up the bar, lift with the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to bring the hip toward the bar. Do not use the back.
  5. Whenever you feel that you are doing it wrong, ALWAYS step away from the bar, and reset your setup. Think about your alignment, utilize your core, and envision your hip moving toward the bar.

The biggest takeaway with the deadlift is NOT to go uber heavy if you don’t have the proper form. There are two phases to the deadlift: The lifting phase to extend the hip and knee, and the lowering phase to flex the hip and the knee. When an athlete pulls with the back, they have extended their hip and knee way out of range and it will cause them to utilize their back. (P.S. There are exceptions to the rule, BUT if you are reading this blog, you are a triathlete, runner, cyclist, or swimmer; you are not a bodybuilder trying to MAX out their deadlift.)

I hope that gives you a better idea of how to lift the bar for a deadlift! Make a comment below if you have any questions. Interested in chatting with me for a FREE 15 minute consult? Sign up HERE!

AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I am Jen Rulon, a Coach, Kona Finisher and a Public Speaker. I’ve been coaching triathletes for 18+ years and I received my Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I train triathletes to reach their potential and coach triathlon coaches to successfully grow their businesses using my own proven methods. I currently work with women on finding their own voice and journey to finding their "Champion Status" in their own eyes! My knowledge has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach — I’m a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

2 Comments
  • Charysse Solorio

    Thank you, Jen. I did not realize the deadlift worked all those muscles. I enjoy the deadlift and pointers on form will help me next time I do them.

    February 16, 2017

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