Why Deadlifts Are the Best Exercise For Weight Loss

POPSUGAR Photography
POPSUGAR Photography

Losing weight can often feel like a full-time job. You have to eat (mostly) healthy and also make sure you're getting a healthy mix of strength training and cardio. But there are a few shortcuts you can take, which come down to picking the right kinds of exercise to maximize your efforts. Why do a bicep curl when you can work even more of the body by doing a squat with overhead press? And if you only have time to fit in one move today, don't you want it to be THE move? When it comes to toning up, encouraging weight loss, and working your entire body in one swoop, few moves can beat a deadlift, trainer Holly Rillinger told POPSUGAR. And Holly should know, besides being a Nike Master Trainer and Flywheel Sports Master Trainer, she also used to play professional basketball.

"It's such a great move because it uses the biggest muscles in your body: your legs — [and] the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism," said Holly. "Anytime we use our hips, our body releases testosterone and growth hormones, which can be scary words for women, but all you have to think of is 'lean' when you hear those words. So being able to work your hips and your lower body in one movement really ends up challenging your core and your shoulders so it turns this one move into this total full-body workout."

Single moves that do so much are a rarity, so incorporating deadlifts into your routine means you can sculpt the upper and lower body simultaneously, freeing up more time for you to get on with other things in your life. Just keep in mind that while a deadlift may look simple, it's not. Doing the move incorrectly could result in you not getting the full benefit of the exercise, or worse, injury. Holly, who is also a spokesperson for BIC Soleil Shine, attributes the difficulty of the move to the fact that "there's so much going on" when you perform the exercise, and given that it's such a powerhouse, it makes total sense. "I think it's totally worth having a trainer look at you when you start deadlifting or at least film yourself to make sure you're doing it correctly," she said.

Ready to get started?

  • Stand holding dumbbells in each hand, arms at your sides, with your knees slightly bent. If you don't have dumbbells, you can also use a weighted bar.
  • Keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back, which should remain straight. Looking forward, not at the ground, will help you avoid rounding your back. Keep the weights close to, almost touching, your legs.
  • Squeeze your glutes to slowly pull yourself up. Be sure not to use your back or round your spine! Beginners should aim to take four seconds to bend down and two seconds to pull up.
  • Do three sets of 12 reps.