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Do Deadlifts Burn Belly Fat?

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When it comes to shredding belly fat and sculpting a solid set of washboard abs, it’s all down to your diet and workout plan.

The deadlift is considered by many to be the best exercise out there. Not only does it target most of your major muscle groups, it’s a great test of strength, resilience and endurance too.

But does it really help you burn belly fat?

In this article we take a look…

Calories Are the Key to Fat Loss

It’s worth breaking down exactly how you lose fat right at the beginning of this article.

That way you’ll have the whole ‘lightbulb moment‘ when we talk about deadlifts and belly fat shortly.

Calories is a measure of energy. And much like any other source of energy, it can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred (apologies for the  flashback to your high school physics lessons).

When you take in calories, your body chooses to either use it to fuel your body, or it stores it for later.

In simple terms, you have energy input and output.

You get energy from food. And you burn energy from moving around, exercise and maintaining internal organ function.

And what happens to body fat all comes down to energy in vs. energy out.

Energy balance and fat loss

How you balance the energy coming into your body, with the energy going out decides the fate of fat.

When you take on more energy from food than you burn off each day, your body can’t just get rid of it. It has to go somewhere.

Your body chooses to keep that extra energy tucked away inside your fat cells for a rainy day. The more you eat, the more gets stored. Eventually you begin to notice that extra fat clinging to your legs, butt, chest or belly.

When you burn more energy than goes in your body, you force those fat cells to release its stored energy to make up the difference.

If this happens consistently over time you’ll eventually empty those cells out. And before you know it you feel better in your clothes and your belly fat has disappeared.

What exactly is belly fat?

Belly fat is the kind of fat cells that accumulate around your waistline.

It’s not just the stuff around your hips and tummy that you can grab either.

Belly fat build up in and around your internal organs, stopping them from working as efficiently as they should do. It’s particularly dangerous as this type of fat significantly increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

But it’s just like any other fat. And if you achieve your calorie deficit, it’ll soon disappear.

It just takes a little longer for most people.

Group fitness class deadlift men and women fat loss

All About the Deadlift

As one of the oldest strength training exercises out there, the deadlift is a versatile hybrid lift.

To perform the exercise you need a barbell and weight plates. You lift the bar from the floor from a dead stop position, and bring it up to hip height in one fluid motion.

It’s part of strongman event, powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. Why? Because it’s as much as a skill as it is a test of your power.

There are various different techniques and set-ups for the deadlift, but a feet at hip-width stance is the most common approach (known as the conventional deadlift).


  • Approach the bar with your feet at hip-width apart. Stand around 3-4 inches away from the bar so that as you look at your feet, your first lace is covered by the bar itself.
  • Bend at the hips and knees and grab the bar with your forearms in contact with the outside of your knees.
  • Your shoulders should be higher than your hips, and your hips higher than your knees in the start position.
  • Keep your feet flat throughout.
  • With a firm grip of the bar and a straight back, lift the bar to the knees.
  • As the bar passes your knees, begin to drive your hips forward. Keep the bar close to your body.
  • Finish by completely extending the hips with your back straight and upright. Your knees should be only slightly bent.
  • Once you’ve reached the top position, slowly bend at the hips and then at the knees as you reverse the movement and place the bar back on the ground under control.

Which muscles does the deadlift work?

Practically all of them.

Because the deadlift involves extension of the knees and hips, stability through your trunk and all kinds of movements and anti-movements of your upper body, you work a lot of different muscles.

Here are the main ones:

  • Glutes
  • Erector spinae (lower back)
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Rectus abdominus
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Upper and middle trapezius
  • Forearms
  • Rhomboids

Although the degree of muscle activation will change dependent on your own technique and which style of deadlift you opt for, these are the main muscles involved.

You won’t find any other lift that challenges the volume of muscle anywhere else.

Athletic bodybuilder lean belly fat on black background

Reducing Belly Fat for Good – How Important Is the Deadlift?

If you truly want to destroy excess belly fat, improve your health and smash your fitness barrier, you need to combine diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

And the deadlift can definitely help.

You can’t lose belly fat without a calorie deficit

At risk of putting the brakes on the deadlift-belly fat relationship right away, no exercise will burn fat on its own.

You have to be in a calorie deficit to trigger energy breakdown in your fat cells. So unfortunately, throwing a few deadlifts into a plan won’t have a huge effect.

No matter how many deadlifts you put in your program, you’ll not burn belly at unless you control energy balance.

BUT… using the deadlift as part of a calorie-controlled diet and exercise program combination will 100 percent guarantee belly fat loss results.

Here’s how…

More muscle means a higher metabolism

Strength training should form a big part of fat loss programming.

When you’re in a calorie deficit, you want to retain as much muscle as possible. Because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, it needs energy to maintain its current size and state.

If you’re low on energy, your body could choose to use it as fuel. But when you strength training, your trigger more energy breakdown from fat, while maintaining a higher metabolic rate.

Dieting and strength training forms the fat loss golden chalice.

Compound exercises burn more calories

The deadlift is a great example of a compound exercise – a strength training lift that involves multiple joint movements and muscle activation.

Because you’re increasing the number of muscles involved, you’re also maximizing energy expenditure.

The deadlift will also get your heart rate up too – especially if the weight you’re lifting is heavy or you’re performing lots and lots of sets.

Single joint exercises such as bicep curls and leg extensions don’t use half as much energy as a squat or a deadlift do.

Use deadlifts as part of a circuit workout

A great way to use the deadlift to burn more belly fat is to add it to a circuit workout.

The more muscles that are active during a workout, the more calories you burn – and that means inching ever closer to that all-so-important calorie deficit.

There are some circuit training approach that combine strength training with cardio to ramp up fitness and conditioning and have been shown in scientific studies to burn a huge amount of fat.

Our favorites are high-intensity resistance training and peripheral heart action training.

They’re not easy, but they are very, very effective for belly fat loss.

Use fat burning nutrients to accelerate your belly fat loss results

Once you’ve nailed your diet and your exercise program is underway it’s time to start fine tuning.

And that’s where fat burning ingredients come in.

Focusing your attention on nutrients that elevate your metabolism, directly target fat cells or even decrease your appetite go a long way to speeding up your results.

Here are our favorite fat burning nutrients:

Green tea – the most famous fat burner of them all, green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants. Clinical trials have shown it boosts your metabolic rate and has a direct fat burning effect too.

Glucomannan – this natural fiber from the konjac plant is the ‘next big thing’ in fat loss. It expands in your stomach, forming a gel that tricks your brain into thinking you’re full. Perfect for making your calorie deficit easy to achieve and maintain.

Cayenne pepper – red chili pepper turns up the heat on fat loss. It has a thermogenic effect, which boosts your body temperature to burn more belly fat. Numerous studies have shown how great it is for improving body composition and reducing inflammation.

Caffeine – the performance-enhancing nutrient choice of pro-athletes, caffeine boosts both body and brain productivity. It’s probably the most potent fat burner nutrient out there too, with clinical trial and after clinical trial reporting significant benefits to fat burning.

GTF chromium – this trace element help control blood sugar levels and hunger. When you’re deep in a calorie deficit, the last thing you want is unbearable hunger pangs and temptation for sugary foods. Chromium reduces cravings and helps keep your diet optimized.

Summary – Deadlift and Bell Fat Loss

The bottom line is that no single exercise can burn belly fat. It has to be combined with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and activity program.

But once your lifestyle is in order, the deadlift can be used to really make a big difference to your leanness and strength. As a compound exercise, it’s great for placing in a tough, energy-burning workout.

It’s not the easiest exercise to perform, but once you’ve nailed the technique, the deadlift is a fantastic exercise for raising your metabolism, burning excess energy and achieving your belly fat loss goals.