Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Middle Back, Quads, Traps
Target Muscle Group

Lower Back

Lower Back Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Deadlift Instructions

  1. Set up for the dumbbell deadlift by choosing a pair of dumbbells and placing them on the floor in front of you.
  2. Stand with your feet at around shoulder width apart and position the dumbbells on the floor so that they are on either side of your feet.
  3. Reach down and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing inward) and drop your hips.Your hips should be in the best, most natural position for leverage so you may need to raise or lower them slightly.
  4. Make sure your eyes are looking ahead. Your body will follow your head so keep your head up and eyes forward!  
  5. Be sure to keep a straight back and never allow it to round. You are now in the starting position.
  6. Focus on standing up with the dumbbells - not pulling them from the floor, and lead with your head as you rise.
  7. Drive with your heals and explode upward (leading with your head) as you rise.
  8. As the dumbbells rise to knee level, thrust your hips forward and contract your back by bringing your shoulder blades back.
  9. Pause here for a moment and then reverse the movement by bending at the knees while slowly lowering the weight - keeping the dumbbells under strict control on the descent.
  10. Reset your stance if necessary and repeat for desired reps.

Exercise Tips:

  1. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to perform deadlifts from an unnatural body position. Read and re-read the form tips presented in this guide and practice them with a moderate weight. Start the deadlift with the hips in a position of strength and maximal leverage. If you start the deadlift with your hips too high you will be at a mechanical disadvantage and will tax your lower back. Starting with your hips too low will also cause you to lose your leverage and power.
  2. If you start the deadlift while looking down, there is a good chance your hips will lift up causing you to lose form and lift with your lower back. This is a very common deadlift mistake. Think about exploding your head upward while trying to stand erect. The body will follow the head.
  3. As the weight gets heavy, lifting straps can be used to lift more weight than your grip strength would allow.
Posted on: Wed, 12/13/2023 - 05:55

I do feel it in my lower back, but mostly in my thighs. Should I be concerned?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 21:00

Not at all, as long as you're feeling it in the back of the thighs. It is a posterior chain exercise.

Posted on: Fri, 10/13/2023 - 09:01

I'm coming back from 7 mthn injury.
Is it applicable to do core exercise 7 days in a week or i should limit it?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 11:23

Don't do seven days a week. Just like other muscles, they need to recover as well. You could do up to four days as long as it doesn't impact the injury.

Posted on: Sat, 02/13/2021 - 21:46

I am doing the six day dumbell split workout. I currently do a core workout every morning consisting of planks, side planks, bird dogs and bridges. Should I be doing ab exercises on top of this and if so how often?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 10:21

Hey Rob - those are all great ab exercises and should be sufficient.

Posted on: Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:51

Can i ask what is the biggest difference between this and dumbell squat because i can feel it is on my back but i want to make sure i am doing it right so what i should take care about this (sorry for bad english)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 01/22/2021 - 09:26

Hey Mustafa - the dumbbell squat is quad focused while the dumbbell deadlift is focused on the posterior chain. With the deadlift, you should not be "squatting" the weight.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 01/22/2021 - 09:26

Hey Mustafa - the dumbbell squat is quad focused while the dumbbell deadlift is focused on the posterior chain. With the deadlift, you should not be "squatting" the weight.

Posted on: Tue, 12/08/2020 - 00:07

Can I do a barbell deadlift instead on dumbell as I can add more weight. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/08/2020 - 13:26

Hey Andy - it depends on the program your following and/or the goals you're trying to achieve. But yes, you can do a barbell deadlift instead.

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:49

Hello, newbie here and i don't get the difference between this exercise and a dumbbell squat ? Could someone explain ? Thank you very much.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2018 - 11:01

Hi Elizabeth,

For a squat, you'd want to keep a more upright torso without bringing the weights completely to the ground.

The deadlift is more of a hip-hinge movement. Movement should be generated at the hips and felt through the hamstrings and glutes.

The squat is more a knee dominant move and should be felt primarily in the quads, with some tension in the hamstrings and glutes.

Hope this helps!

Frank Reyes
Posted on: Wed, 09/04/2019 - 07:21

With squat, dumbbells typically start high at your hips. The deadlift will illustrate the dumbbell starting at the floor. The squat will as said earlier be quad driven as you lower into position and the deadlift whether straight leg or Romanian deadlift will be hip driven but you feel pull in your gluteus, hamstrings primarily. The back in both cases needs to be kept flat through the exercises.

Posted on: Wed, 02/13/2013 - 16:57

I have lost 120 pounds or more from 300 March 2 2011 to now 214 trying to tone my body i weight 150 pound/s now just wnt tone

Posted on: Sat, 03/01/2014 - 19:34

Yay for you! That is fantastic :) You're my new role model! How old are you? Just asking. I am 50 now, just getting back to the gym after about 3 years of just walking my dog. I need to lose some fat - about 12 lbs I wold guess - but it's hard to know when the scale doesn't change! I do cardio and weights, am increasing strength and clothes getting looser (which is a clue and a good sign!) but scale still says 139 after 5 weeks!