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Is The Deadlift Relatively Unsafe?

I gotta ask… Is the deadlift really even a safe exercise?

Lots of bicep tears with the underhand grip. Lots of puking mid lift. Lots of passing out after ONE repetition. Lots of back injuries. I’m gonna address these one by one. I’m just a silly ignorant man, but these are my interpretation of stuff.

Lots of bicep tears. Is there some technique to minimize the risk of this aside from alternating which arm to do the underhand? I don’t think there is, but is there? You can’t get around it. And the bicep tearing I saw on YouTube weren’t some rare freak accidents. They happen A LOT.

Puking mid lift… I’ve never puked mid lift during a squat. AFTER some high rep squats, yeah, when my conditioning was bad. But maxing out on a squat and projectile-vomiting? Never happened. Yet it seems to happen relatively frequently on people who deadlift. I just wonder what they were doing wrong there…

And why do some people pass out after doing a one-rep max deadlift? This doesn’t happen on squats.

There’s back injuries. To be fair this is the least of my concern. If Eddie Hall, Andy Bolton, and Benny Magnusson can deadlift over a grand without messing their back, I just have no excuse. And the fact that they got that strong with their long-term training without getting a messed-up back, healthy enough to do the 1,000+ pound lift on the day they needed it done, should say a lot about possible good deadlift programs. So is this just a matter of being conservative with your attempts and making sure your form is tight? Like I said, this aspect of the deadlift is my least worry.

I still remember, 16 years ago when I was 13 years old. I bought my very first bodybuilding magazine and it recommended the Push-Pull-Legs training split. In that recommended program, I still clearly remember it saying to never ever max out on the deadlift unless you wanna mess up your lower back. It stuck to me until I discovered powerlifting. Honestly I love the deadlift, but I wanna know if, compared to the squat or the power-clean, it’s riskier and more dangerous.

Last thing I wanna mention are the skin-tearing on your hands when deadlifting. Ouch…


So to your points.

Bicep tears. Double over hand = no bicep tear or so I hear. Also while they are not “uncommon”, happening a lot might be over stating it.

Puking. You know people puke in the swimming pool all the time? And I mean regularly. Its an exercise thing. People exercise too hard after eating and yak up. Also puking while a bit nasty is not dangerous. Puke all day or tear a bicep - puke all day. Twice.

Passing out - this is a blood pressure thing. I get it from squats. In fact on the 15th of March this year the owner of the gym I attend had to help me out as I almost went out. Its not dangerous by itself. But if you land on something its gonna hurt. This all depends on how hard you want to work.

Low back issues - this is (for me) the only real reason you’ve listed to not do the traditional dead lift. It “can” hurt your lower back. Either low reps or high depending.
There are alternatives. Like trap bar deadlift. But the idea that 1rm will destroy your lower back is wrong. That’s said - unless you are entering a competition where a 1rm dead lift is required - I would not preform one very often if ever.


Hook grip or straps, straps are fine if you aren’t a competitive powerlifter.

Something to do with the sudden increase and drop in blood pressure. With a squat you have the bar on your bar before and after the lift so its not the same situation.

Some people’s backs seem to be made of steel, other people hurt themselves bending over to tie their shoes. You can guess which one is going to be a better deadlifter.

If you break your back and fail a deadlift then the bar drops to the floor. If you break your back and fail a squat and you don’t have good spotters or rack safeties set properly then you will fall to the floor and the bar will crush you. But sitting on the couch all day isn’t safe either, so take your pick.

I do not believe that the deadlift is unsafe.

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Any movement can be unsafe…


How much is “lots”? I imagine you will find that there are FAR more untorn biceps with mixed grips than torn biceps.

The deadlift is far safer than driving or showering without an anti-slip mat.


Just rolled my eyes so far back in my head I saw my brain. :roll_eyes:


My gut says power clean is going to be worse due to its dynamic nature (assuming a decent weight).

Anyway, if you love powerlifting you don’t really have much choice on the matter if you’re not going to give it up.

Last I heard he wanted to be a boxer. I don’t really see deadlifts as something that would have a major benefit for that.

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No, there are not. I have NEVER witnessed one, and I’ve been training for over 30 years and was a competitive Strongman. They happen very occasionally, and it is almost always a form issue. As in, the lifter tried to use the bicep during the lift and the bicep is not something that should fire during a Deadlift. Ever. Hook grip, straps, good form - all the things that avoid biceps tears.
Back injuries happen to some people, the Deadlift is the least likely way to get one. Doing curls with bad form is a bigger back risk.
I’ve never seen anyone puke midlift. Post lift, yes - but not when doing Deads. It’s more common after hard squats. Someone puking mid-lift has other issues. Just because something hapeened twice in human history and someone recorded it and put it on Youtube, doesn’t mean that it’s common.
Someone could pass out after a Deadlift because they used up their anerobic capacity on the lift and then had a sudden drop in blodd pressure from finishing the lift. It happens. I’ve done it, once. No big deal.
Skin tearing is also not the end of the world, you naturally build callouses with time and it looks worse than it is anyway. You are way more likely to injure your back not Deadlifting than Deadlifting.


There are people who can safely climb El Capitan without a rope and there are people who get life-altering injuries from picking up children or walking down stairs.

Figure out where you lie in that spectrum and move accordingly.


I agreed with this. It can be a fine exercise for some, but not for others. OP, you don’t have to do any particular exercise. There are exercise variations for every lift. I actually made more progress on my physique when I dropped barbell bench press, back squats, and standard deadlifts, and switched to safety or front squat, dumbbell bench press variations, dips, and trap bar and stiff-legged deadlifts. Plus I didn’t feel like my body was being destroyed.


Obviously you’ve been watching a lot of YouTube.

Do you really think you’ll try hard enough to puke or pass out?

Be honest. I’ve puked from exertion maybe a few of times my whole life, and that was being driven by some really, truly, brutal wrestling coaches.

On your own and without the guarantee of bodily harm, you aren’t going to go that hard.

The deadlift is perfectly safe. One of the only exercises that if you are failing, all you have to do is let go.

FWIW, the only injuries I have had are eye bleeds, popped pimples and bloody hands and shins. Never had anything more serious than that.

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There are very few bicep tears. They just make up a disproportionate number views on social media. Same thing with leg press knee breaks, super rare, lots of views.

I’ve never puked mid lift during a deadlift either. But I’ve seen people do both. In fact, I just yesterday saw a guy puke immediately after doing drop set bulgarian split squats with dumbbells (by saw, i saw a video of). Does this muan dumbbell split squats are dangerous?

Also rare, also happens on squats.

Your least concern is the only one to actually be concered about. Bad form on the deadlift can absolutely hurt your back if you’re unlucky. Some people can pull bad form all day and are fine, some aren’t, but its how you do it that’s the risk factor. Im unlucky, I slipped my L5 10 years ago and if Im not careful deadlifting injures me. But I am careful and now I have a national record deadlift. The heavier I deadlift the less often and less severely my back hurts.

Being weak is also unsafe.

But to echo Brick, while deadlifting isn’t inherently unsafe, at least not for any of the reasons you listed, it isn’t necessary or necessarily the best tool for certain goals.

You don’t want to deadlift, fine, you don’t need to convince anyone that your choice is logical. you don’t want to do them, so don’t.


The deadlift is relatively unsafe, yes - compared to, say, a nice leisurely set on the pec deck. Does that make the deadlift unsafe? Well, probably not, considering that pretty much every activity in the known universe is more dangerous than a nice leisurely set on the pec deck.

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I heard someone puked after a pec deck set once. Unsafe confirmed. Also shoulder injury risk.

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Look at what the pec deck did to this guy:

Very dangerous.


Deadlifting is less risky than 3x20 back squats