Do olympic deadlifts help build core strength?



Deadlifts are a compound weight-lifting exercise technique that strengthens multiple muscle groups in the legs, lower back and core. Most people are not aware that the core includes a wide variety of other muscles apart from just the abs. The core muscles include but not limited to the transverse abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and erector spinae in the back (lateral to the spine). Strengthening muscles within the core will help protect your spine, improve your posture, balance and provide functional stability while performing everyday activities.


The olympic deadlift is done by starting in a squat position with the barbell on the floor. Walk towards the barbell and grasp the weighted barbell. Keep the barbell as close to your body as possible and lift until your standing up straight with your arms extended.

How do deadlifts work the core?

Deadlifts are a type of compound exercise, which means it engages multiple muscle groups at the same time. The primary core muscle engaged during the deadlift movement is the erector spinae. The biomechanics of the deadlift will mainly use the posterior chain (back) to lift the weight up against gravity, which will help build stability and strength in your core.

To be able to produce maximal power, you require stability in your midsection to pack on heavier weights. By taking a deep breath during the movement, and squeezing your core as hard as possible, you generate intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure creates stability around your hips and spine, which increases the amount of force you can generate from maximally recruiting your other muscles. Research on intra-abdominal pressure has actually shown to increase muscular strength.


Note that having a “strong core” does not mean you will have visible six-pack abs. Visible abs largely come down to nutrition and being at a low body fat percentage. You can still have a strong core underneath layers of stomach fat. Being strong and looking aesthetic are not causally related.





How do deadlifts burn more fat?

Lifting weights and resistance training will burn more fat than just dieting and/or with cardio exercise alone. The deadlift works more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. The lift engages all of the major muscle groups by working your lower and upper body, including your back muscles. Doing at least 8 - 10 repetitions of deadlifts with moderately heavy weights can help increase your cardiovascular strength, growth hormones and improve muscle repair. Growth hormones are produced by your pituitary gland and promotes tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and fat loss.


Figuring out how much weight you should be lifting to lose fat and gain muscle is not a guessing game. Using the Brzycki formula can help estimate your one-rep max based off sub-maximal lifting. For optimal growth you need to lift four sets of eight to 12 reps, using 70 to 80 percent of your maximum. For more functional training information, programming and nutrition, feel free to reach out to me at zakia@zb-athletics.com.

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