Why Skinny Guys Should Deadlift (to get bigger and stronger)

Why skinny guys should deadlift.

For skinny guys looking to get bigger and stronger, the deadlift is a great exercise to include in your program. Below, I explain why.

Deadlifting is a great exercise for skinny people to build full-body muscle and strength fast. However, no exercise is essential and other movements can also be done to train the same muscles activated by the deadlift.

I was never a fan of of this exercise in my early training days. It seemed like an unnecessarily dangerous exercise.

But let me tell you this; including deadlifts in my program was one of the best things I did to build muscle and strength as an ex-skinny person.

Keep reading to find out why!

Before and after photo shows why skinny guys should deadlift.
Deadlifting helped me to build a bigger and stronger physique.\

Key Takeaways

  • The deadlift is a full-body exercise that engages all of your major muscle groups.
  • It’s a great movement to lift heavy weights and quickly build strength and muscle.
  • But skinny beginners should take time to practice proper form for safety’s sake.

Decision Helper: Should Skinny Guys Do Deadlifts?

If you’re in a hurry, you can use my decision helper to decide whether or not you should start deadlifting as a skinny beginner!

Should skinny guys do deadlift decision helper.

Benefits Of Deadlifting For Skinny Guys

If there’s one weightlifting exercise that reigns supreme for overall mass and strength, it’s the deadlift!

Here are the advantages of the deadlifting and why skinny guys should do them:

1) Quickly build full-body muscle mass.

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.

In fact, it is one of the most effective movements for skinny people to work the entire body quickly and efficiently.

2) Rapidly increase whole-body pulling strength.

Along with the above-mentioned muscle gains, deadlifting is 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.

I recommend including this powerful exercise in your program, together with heavy squats, to get quickly get stronger.

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.

But building a stronger deadlift improves your other compound lifts (like the bench press and row) due to the aforementioned full-body strength gains.

And since compound movements are the bread and butter for skinny guys looking to build muscle, the deadlifting is by extension one of the best!!

4) It’s 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 strong deadlift translates into greater effectiveness in performing 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 when I was a skinny person.

Well here’s some good news. Research has indicated that just 24 weeks of deadlifting can help skinny guys 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 due to 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 weak and easily fatigued.

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

My absolute favorite thing about deadlifting as a skinny guy is the full-body nature of this movement which makes it great for lifting heavy loads!

Not only is this a great deal of fun and a tremendous confidence booster, but lifting heavy weights is essential for bulking up quickly as a skinny person.

Muscles Worked By The Deadlift

Muscles targeted by deadlifting.

Deadlifts aren’t just great for skinny strength. They also come with aesthetic benefits.

Here are the primary muscles worked by this exercise and the visual benefits that come with building each muscle:

Squat MuscleVisible Benefits For Skinny Guys
PectoralsIncreased chest definition.
Biceps and tricepsDeadlifts don’t help much in terms of size but can help tone the arms.
DeltoidsBroader shoulders contribute to a V-shaped body.
TrapeziusBigger traps help to create a more imposing physique.
Latissimus dorsiDeveloped lats are a key component of a strong V-tapered torso.
RhomboidsContributes to a thick-looking back.
QuadricepsThicker thighs and wider hips when viewed from the front and side.
HamstringsWider thighs and thicker legs when viewed from the rear and side.
GlutesBigger 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.

You can go to my other post to learn how to tell if your muscles are growing.

Drawbacks Of Deadlifting For Skinny Guys

BEST Gym Fails Compilation 2020 - [DEADLIFT FAILS EDITION]

Here’s why skinny guys should be careful with this exercise…

There are also some caveats you should be aware of when deciding whether or not to deadlift as a beginner.

Here are the disadvantages of the deadlifting and why skinny guys should consider not doing them:

1) It’s a complex movement.

The deadlift is arguably one of the most complex weight lifting movements you can perform as a beginner

It takes a lot of coordination and synchronous muscle activation to safely lift a heavy barbell off the ground.

This 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.

The deadlift has one of the highest injury rates out of all the weight lifting movements (even experienced weightlifters have usually suffered a lower back injury at some point in their training 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 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!

How Often Skinny Guys Should Deadlift

How often to deadlift as a beginner.
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 to see muscle and strength benefits.

And this is no different with deadlifting; remember your body needs rest to repair muscles.

Skinny guys who are lifting to get bigger and stronger should aim for 2-3 sessions a week. Assuming you’re using enough weight, this is more than enough frequency to make solid gains.

Skinny guys who are doing deadlifts as part of a general fitness program can get away with more frequent sessions since you’ll be lifting much less weight.

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 sake- to start light before lifting heavy as a beginner (you can go to my other post for beginner deadlift stats)

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:

WeekDeadlift Weight
120kg/45lbs (empty Olympic barbell)

This is a relatively slow and conservative progression.

You can refer to my skinny to muscular workout for a much faster progression to build muscle fast!

By applying a more aggressive overload, you can expect to build muscle quicker and see results within a few months.

How To Deadlift At Home

How to deadlift at home for skinny guys.

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 and you have the cash, then you can go for a simple home gym. A barbell, plates, and mats is all you need to deadlift and build muscle at home.


As a skinny guy, you should deadlift if you want to quickly maximize full-body muscle and strength gains.

It’s a great movement that works all of your muscles and allows you to lift heavy loads.

However, it’s also a relatively complex movement. So you should also take the time to learn proper form and technique.

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 (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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