T Nation

Deadlift is a Press?


"By the way, a deadlift is not a pull; it's the same movement as a leg press except you're using your hands to hold the weight. So the deadlift is a press." - Christian Thibaudeau

Can someone clarify this for me?

I have done a leg press and many a deadlift, the movements, for me at least, are completely different.




dont know how much i will help, but a deadlift your doing the majority of the lifting by pressing against the floor with your legs, like a squat, an upright barbell row by comparison would be a pull. deadlift is more of a press than a pull. now a power clean or something of that nature on the other hand, i have no idea about


Does it really matter?


That doesn't seem right.. If your back kept the same angle throughout the lift, and it was all in the legs, a deadlift would be a press, no doubt.

However, generally the legs are fully extended by the time the weight is a few inches off the ground. From that point, isn't it a pull, as you're shrugging up the weight and retracting the scapula?

I by no means think I know more than CT, I'd just like to hear a detailed explanation of how the back extending, shrugging, and retracting scapulae are part of a push and not a pull.


Not really, besides the sense that anyone doing a push/pull/legs split has been focusing the pull day around a lift that's technically a push?



Not really, It just confused me, like most things


Yeah same here, anyone got his cell #? Ill shoot him a text


my 2 cents. I have always considered the deadlift a lower body exercise, when i pull heavy, i am sore in the same places (in general) when i squat heavy.

i have always scratched my head when i see routines(usually targeted towards bodybuilders) that put deadlifts in with back work.


One could make the argument that all muscles are capable of ONLY pulling, ergo everything is a pull.

QED: He's wrong and I'm smarter.

Kidding aside, the lower body portion shares a lot with a leg press, yes.

However, I'm with heavythrower in that I usually consider it a general lower body exercise and don't get too hung up about it being a push or a pull.

Still, seems like I'd describe the action as pulling.


It's a mixture of both, firstly your pressing until your legs are extended, then your pulling until your back is neutrel/extended, although it's more push than pull....have you ever done a deadlift where you could keep your legs in almost a starting position and extend your back, nope didn't think so, vice-versa is true though.



nothing is built in meaning, we give the meaning to things... so you can tell it is a press, he can tell it is a pull etc etc... everybody is right.

What does really matter to me is the way I use it and the results that I believe I get from it. Period :slight_smile:


Muscles themselves can only pull, retract, etc.

Everything is technically pulling at all times always. But is contracting equal to pulling; and is pushing equal to expansion ? Or are we defining it based on the weight's angle ? movement ? joint angle ? muscle angle ? muscle length before and after ? theres too many factors.

What is defined as a "press" or a "pull" is really quite subjective.

As just the general way we usually tend to "think" about things, I would say that anything moving weight towards your body's center of gravity while resisting gravity/tension is a pull and moving away from your body's center of gravity or at-least close to direct or straight angle of your center of gravity, also of course resisting gravity/tension is a press.

The dead is a press with the legs until they are straight, then a pull with the back to reach a maximum height at the hips. but the hams are basically pulling to "press" the legs, as are the quads ? so do you consider the legs as a unit ? individual muscles ? muscle groups ?

Its both a press and a pull by most definitions, and those definitions are not defined.

Again, all muscle can only contract, so your defining press and pull based on angles and changing definitions depending on how you view the body's methods of generating force.

Its impossible to say really much besides what past people FEEL it should be defined as, because mechanically its too complex to state without a clear definition, and coming up with one is literally impossible since a blanket statment of "everything is technically a pull, or pulls" doesn't seem "correct" to most people.

And a more accurate definition is impossible due to how the body functions in conjunction.


Ive always viewed the DL as a press. As in, I think about pressing my legs into the ground as hard as possible...not ever really like pulling the weight off the floor.


Perhaps CT meant trap bar deadlifts as being a push. Isn't he pretty big on those?


I think it's dependent on your own body proportions...

if you have short legs and short arms, you will be in squat posistion at the start...where as if you have short torso and long limbs, your back will be more horizontal....it changes which muscles come into play....


If your legs are fully extended after a few inches, then you are basically describing a stiff-leg DL. No doubt the back is involved but the legs give you the power.


OP: try to deadlift without pushing (pressing) against the ground. Why is this hard to understand? I'm borderline retarded and get it (not really, but come on man).


Damn, 859 with a double overhand grip! Those are some strong hands (not to mention the rest of him).


Your lower body is pushing but your upper body is pulling

Nonetheless I think it should be considered a pull because during the movement you are pulling the weight from a pt away from your body to a pt closer to your body. Unlike a push, like a squat or bench press, where you are moving the weight away from your body.

Nonetheless this all has nothing to do with the way muscles are affected or the way you train (hopefully)