The Harsh Truth about The Deadlift: It DOES NOT make you BIG

I was a decent deadlifter once, but I am not going to talk numbers with you.
Do not say a word! I already know you have an uncle who deadlifted 600 lbs. the first time he tried without ever lifting even a toothbrush in his life. It is a nice story. I believe in it 100%. It even explains why your uncle has bad breath.

image by TzTproduction

image by TzTproduction

Anyway, it is time to tell the truth. The deadlift does not make you big despite the claims that it releases growth hormone, testosterone and makes your muscles willing to suck in as much nutrients as possible to avoid being obliterated the next session. It is a myth started by broscientists suffering from mainstream media brainwash.

The trick is quite simple. Since they cannot sell you steroids, they sell you ideas and powders. Those ideas are meant to explain how the bodybuilders from the magazines get big. Thus, there are hundreds of articles claiming that the major bodybuilders, Arnold included, got big by doing the so-called big three: squat, bench and deadlift.


Since the deadlift is an extremely taxing exercise, it gives opportunity to develop your imagination in various ways. After a hard deadlift session most people feel broken, and it is easy to believe that you have done some sort of a muscle building voodoo that will make you grow “like a weed” and feel like an “alpha male”.

Out of the big three, the deadlift is the least dependent on muscle size. You will almost never meet a strong bench presser or squatter without some decent mass. However, many skinny fat dudes can deadlift high numbers, such as three times their bodyweight or even more, which is why they love the exercise so much:

“The deadlift is our favorite exercise. It is the best. Look mom, I can lift 5 plates.”

{Boom bam bing! The earth is shaking.}

Their secret hides in lanky structure, decent ligament and tendon resistance to injury and long arms, which offer better leverage. Consequently, for those guys the deadlift becomes the exercise of choice to measure self-worth in the gym.

How do I know this? I was one of those skinny fat muscle maestros who believe that deadlifting heavier and heavier will help you join the thick muscle fiber club. I remember clearly the days when I was adding plate after plate to the barbell and looking for admiration from others with the corner of my eye. Surprisingly or not, I did receive it. Many big dudes, some of which even on steroids, were wondering how I was doing it. I did not have a secret program or anything – just arms longer that average. I was also not a victim to the propaganda that the deadlift is the most dangerous thing in the world.

Did I get huge? Uh…are you aware which site you are reading?

Everybody says that the deadlift works all the muscles in your body, including those that move your ears, but it is not true. The fact that a lot of tissue is involved does not mean that all of it is trained hard. The main movers are the hips, the spinal erectors and the rest of the back musculature. It is a ton of muscle, but you are still not becoming a muscle magazine material.

Nonetheless, your back will get thicker thanks to the deadlift quite fast. All else can be small but your spinal erectors and upper back will grow. You will just have a denser back compared to your old self.

In the end, the main reason why the deadlift leaves some people disappointed are enormous expectations. They promised you were going to get super big by deadlifting until a little kitten feels sorry for you, but it will never really happen. Growth is not exactly exercise dependent. Some movements are better than others, but almost any compound exercise can help you reach your potential. The mythical status of the deadlift is a result of propaganda, not muscle building magic.

Is the deadlift a decent functional exercise that makes you stronger overall while building a bullet proof CNS? Of course, it is. However, it is not a magic bullet and anyone telling you any different is either an ignorant fool or a liar on steroids.

I know many of you are probably watching the “motivational” videos of “naturals” like Layne Norton, before deadlift day, but you are a big boy now. I know you know better.

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