Ask most weight lifters which is the absolute King of exercises, and the deadlift would be a strong contender. But why is it so effective? And is it even a safe movement for beginners? This post explains why skinny guys should deadlift.
Skinny guys should deadlift to get bigger and stronger. It is an effective exercise to build full-body muscle and strength. However, the deadlift is not essential and other exercises can also be performed to train the same muscles activated by deadlifting.
I was never a fan of deadlifts in my early training days.
It seemed like an unnecessarily dangerous exercise. I thought I’d stick to the bicep curls instead.
But let me tell you this; including deadlifts into my program was one of the best things I did to build muscle and strength as an ex-skinny person.
Below, you’ll find out why!
Should Skinny Guys Do Deadlifts Decision Helper
If you’re in a hurry, you can use my decision helper to decide whether or not you should start deadlifts!
Deadlift Benefits For Skinny Guys
Generally speaking, skinny guys should lift weights to build muscle and increase strength.
And if there’s one weight lifting exercise that reigns supreme for overall muscle and strength gains; it’s the deadlift!
Here are the advantages of the deadlift and why skinny guys should do them:
1) Quickly build full-body muscle size.
The deadlift requires you to lift a dead weight directly off the ground (usually a barbell or dumbbell). And this requires every muscle fiber in your body to fire on all cylinders. Deadlifting is the single most effective exercise for skinny guys to work the entire body quickly and efficiently.
2) Rapidly increase lower-body strength.
Along with the above-mentioned muscle gains, deadlifts are also great for skinny guys to quickly gain strength. This 2020 study suggests that squats and deadlifts are two of the best movements you can do to improve lower body power output. Take home message? Deadlift and squat to get stronger as a skinny guy!
3) Helps skinny guys improve other lifts.
Head-to-head; the deadlift may not be as effective as the bench press for outright chest development, or the barbell row for sheer back gains. However, building a stronger deadlift improves other compound lifts (like the bench press and row) due to the aforementioned strength gains. And since compound movements are the bread and butter for skinny guys looking to build muscle, the deadlift is by extension essential!
4) Deadlifts are a functional movement.
I was a skinny guy myself. And during my skinny days, I found daily tasks like lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling to be more difficult than they should have been. A stronger deadlift translates into greater effectiveness in ordinary daily tasks for skinny guys. It’s a strangely satisfying feeling knowing that all those deadlifts helped me to singlehandedly shift that unwanted bed frame from my apartment like the incredible hulk…
5) Improves bone density.
Frail. Weak. Flimsy. These are just some of the words I would use to describe myself as a skinny person. Well here’s some good news. Research has indicated that just 24 weeks of deadlifting can help skinny people improve their bone density. And this can help you to build a stronger frame!
6) Builds a stronger lower back.
A lot of skinny people suffer from bad posture as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. For me, it was probably due to all those nights spent gaming and not enough time lifting weights. As a result, the muscles in my back were easily fatigued. Solution? Deadlifts are a great way for skinny guys to build the paraspinal muscles in their lower back and improve posture!
7) Allows Skinny Guys To Get Used To Lifting Heavy
Here’s my absolute favorite thing about deadlifting as a skinny guy; you get to lift heavy weights. Not only is this a great deal of fun and a tremendous confidence-booster, but it also allows a skinny guy to get used to the feeling of lifting heavy weights (which is essential for bulking up quickly). And the deadlift by nature is the best movement for lifting heavy!
Deadlift Drawbacks For Skinny Guys
Here’s why skinny guys should be careful with deadlifting…
The deadlift is a great exercise for skinny guys. However, there are also some caveats you should be aware of.
Here are the disadvantages of the deadlift and why skinny guys should not do them:
1) Complex movement is intimidating.
The deadlift is arguably one of the most complex weight lifting movements. It takes a lot of coordination and synchronous muscle activation to safely deadlift a barbell off the ground. This complexity can be both intimidating and dangerous for a skinny beginner if the correct form and technique are not applied.
2) Improper form creates a high injury risk.
Extending from the previous point. The deadlift has one of the highest injury rates out of all the weight lifting movements (experienced deadlifters have usually suffered a lower back injury at some point in their lifting career!). And that comes as little surprise considering the complexity of the movement and the heavy weights involved. My best piece of advice- be mindful about using the correct deadlift form, especially as a skinny beginner.
3) Highly intensive exercise.
You need to ensure you’re in a caloric surplus as a skinny guy looking build muscle and strength. The deadlift demands a lot of energy from your body. And this is often underestimated by skinny beginners trying to bulk up. Consequently, they find themselves not getting bigger or stronger. Solution? Be extra mindful of calorie intake/expenditure when deadlifting as a skinny person!
Muscles Worked By The Deadlift
Deadlifts aren’t just great for skinny guys to get stronger. They also come with aesthetic benefits.
Here are the primary muscles worked by the deadlift and the visual benefits each muscle has for skinny guys.
|Squat Muscle||Visible Benefits For Skinny Guys|
|Pectorals||Increased chest definition.|
|Biceps and triceps||Deadlifts don’t help much in terms of size but can help tone the arms.|
|Deltoids||Broader shoulders contribute to a V-shaped body.|
|Trapezius||Bigger traps help to create a more imposing physique.|
|Latissimus dorsi||Developed lats are a key component of a strong V-tapered torso.|
|Rhomboids||Contributes to a thick-looking back.|
|Quadriceps||Thicker thighs and wider hips when viewed from the front and side.|
|Hamstrings||Wider thighs and thicker legs when viewed from the rear and side.|
|Glutes||Bigger buttocks, wider waist, and overall bigger legs.|
|Gastrocnemius (calves)||Thicker, bigger, and wider lower legs when viewed from all angles.|
|Erector spine (lower back)||Improved posture and reduced rounding of the back.|
|Core (abdominals)||Potential 6-pack abdominals with a low body fat percentage.|
A common mistake made by beginners that lead to slow “gains” is not working the entire body. You can go to my other post to find out why skinny guys should work the full body.
How Often Skinny Guys Should Deadlift
Here’s an example of how many times skinny guys should deadlift per week!
Generally speaking, skinny beginners only need to lift heavy a few times per week (you can find out why here) to see muscle and strength benefits.
And this is no different with deadlifts; remember your body needs rest to repair muscles.
Skinny guys who are deadlifting to get bigger and stronger should aim for 2-3 sessions a week. Assuming you’re deadlifting enough weight, this is more than enough.
You don’t have to deadlift every day to make gains! This should be avoided to prevent injury.
Skinny guys who are deadlifting as part of a general fitness program can get away with more frequent sessions since you’ll be lifting much less weight.
You can check out my other post for a skinny to muscular workout program to see exactly how I include deadlifts into my full-body program (includes info on reps, sets, weight, and frequency!)
Recommended Starting Weight For Skinny Guys To Deadlift
As a general rule, skinny guys should lift heavy to build strength and muscle.
However, it’s also important- for safety’s sakes- to start light before lifting heavy as a beginner.
And avoid ego lifting at all costs…
I recommend spending a couple of weeks deadlifting an empty Olympic barbell as a skinny beginner (found in all gyms). This alone weighs 20kg/45lbs.
The most important thing is to apply progressive overload by increasing weight over time. I usually add ~10% weight every 1-2 weeks (or whenever I feel confident in doing so).
Here’s what a deadlift progression plan could look like for skinny guys:
|1||20kg/45lbs (empty Olympic barbell)|
This is a relatively slow and conservative progression.
You can refer to my skinny to muscular workout (linked at the bottom of the previous section) for a much faster progression for skinny guys to build muscle fast!
How To Deadlift At Home
I always recommend joining a gym to deadlift heavy.
They’ll have all the weights you need to make smooth progress.
However, if you’re interested in a home barbell setup then here’s what I recommend.
My setup was expensive- I’ve substituted a few items on the list below for more affordable options as a beginner!
You might also be interested in my other post for a skinny guy home workout to build muscle without a barbell!
|Top Top Top Top Top||CAP||20kg/45lbs stainless steel Olympic barbell with 2" sleeves.||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Top Top Top Top Top||Papababe||Rubber-coated Olympic bumper plate set with 2" holes. Fits any Olympic barbell.||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Top Top||Clout Fitness||Barbell clamps to secure plates onto the bar.||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Top Top Top Top Top||PowerBlock||BUDGET alternative to a barbell squat setup. One of the best adjustable dumbbells on the market. Each dumbbell replaces up to 28 individual weights (using the add-on kits). Great for goblet, pile, bulgarian split squats, and more!||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
|Top Top Top Top Top||Undersun Fitness||Heavy-duty resistance bands. Cost-effective way to add extra weight onto a dumbbells as well as be used directly for banded leg workouts.||Prime||Check Amazon Price|
I’ve explained why skinny guys should deadlift to build muscle and strength.
Deadlifting is single-handedly one of the best exercises you can do as a skinny person looking to get bigger and stronger.
It’s a powerful compound movement that recruits every muscle in your body.
Just be aware that it is also a complex movement with a high risk of injury when performed incorrectly. So make sure you practice using a light weight before lifting heavy loads!
What do you think about the deadlift for skinny guys?
Let me know in the comments!
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)