Will deadlifting give me a thick waist?

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Will deadlifting give me a thick waist?

As you might have realised by now if you follow this blog,  I really like the deadlift.  If I speak to anyone about training I’ll always be the first to wax lyrical about its myriad benefits, and why if you have any fitness goals at all you should be doing them.

I don’t mean everyone should be programming themselves to hit a two times bodyweight PR, because while you can use it to try and develop raw overall power it’s something even grandmas can benefit from, just by helping to strengthen posture and general flexibility.

What I’m saying is, there’s no real reason not to do them.

But they are fairly taxing.  And they feel unnatural at first.  And when you first try them you might realise that actually, your posture and flexibility aren’t as good as you thought they were.

Let’s just say that unlike the bench-press I’ve heard plenty of ‘reasons’ to avoid doing them.

One common excuse, especially among certain lifters (i.e. young early twenties guys who have been training [read: bench pressing three times a week] for a couple of years and still believe that Arnold was natural) is that they heard it makes your waist thicker.

If it sounds like I’m being patronising, well, I can be because I was 100% one of those guys.  You can’t blame them when they’ve spent their whole lives being brought up by sports and fitness ‘marketing’ (read: outright lying to scam people for profit).

Let’s face it, the number 1 reason anyone works out is to look good.  And a thick waist is on precisely no-one’s list of aesthetic ideals.

The ‘deadlifting gives you a thick waist’ idea comes courtesy of the pro bodybuilding circuit, where everyone is on enough steroids, Human Growth Hormone, Insulin and who-knows-what-else to question their status as part of the human species but who will swear under oath that the secret is purely some milk powder and vitamin C.

One of the side-effects of stuff like Human Growth Hormone is what is known as ‘HGH gut’, where despite being very low bodyfat the person has a distended belly that makes their waist thicker.

This is the thick waist you get from Human Growth Hormone use, not deadlifting. Photo credit: muscle-insider.com

Everyone in the industry knows this is as a result of drugs.  They know it.  But they can’t (drugs are illegal) and don’t want to (if they admit it they can’t scam all the new lifters into buying useless supplements) tell the truth.

So they come up with a bunch of crap to explain it away.

One excuse is the fact that so much eating makes their bellies large.  Another is to blame it on deadlifts.

I normally wouldn’t care, but the problem with this is that bullshit like this becomes ‘common-sense’ at the gym, proliferated by the impressionable young guys who look up to their muscular idols as experts on training and nutrition.  Then they tell their girlfriends who tell their friends and before you know it people are afraid of deadlifting, and lifting in general, because they’ve been sold a lot of misinformation.

The deadlift will NOT thicken your waist, because real, natural, muscle growth doesn’t work like that.

Yes, your spinal erectors and abdominals will get a lot stronger, but that won’t translate into needing to even add a single new notch to your belt.

How do I know?

Because in my lifting career I’ve gone from deadlifting about 100 kgs to 240 kgs and guess what?  My waist size hasn’t changed, not even an inch. 

Related article: ALL-time PR: the Deadlift Challenge

I’ve benefitted from a lot of strength and muscle gains during that improvement but I can safely say I can wear the same jeans I used to wear.

And if you don’t believe me, let me share a lesser known fact about the great Arnold.

He was a pretty good powerlifter before he became a bodybuilder and he had a personal best deadlift of around 700 lbs (318kgs).

But he had a 34″, normal sized waist and is heralded by all the fanboys as the epitome of the ‘V-shape’ aesthetic (broad shoulders, small waist).

So even he deadlifted: how come he didn’t have the big gut and thick waist?  Because despite being on a lot of other things, HGH and insulin weren’t available or really used back then.

As usual, it’s the drugs, not the training, that are producing the dramatic results.

If you’re a skinny guy trying to gain muscle, the deadlift will help.

If you’re a woman who wants to be more toned, the deadlift will help.

If you’re trying to lose weight, the deadlift will help.

If you want to improve your posture and flexibility, the deadlift will help.

If you want to get strong, the deadlift will help.

I can’t guarantee much in this world, but I guarantee you won’t get a thick waist from deadlifting.  Unless you start taking HGH and abusing insulin.  But then that will have nothing to do with the deadlift.

The main thing to take away from all this is simply, don’t believe all the crap you hear from the supposed ‘experts’ or anyone who has a vested interest in selling you unattainable results or a product.

If you don’t know how to deadlift, here’s some stuff to get started with.  Always seek the advice of someone who knows what they’re doing and be patient and before you know it you’ll have drastically improved your strength, posture and flexibility.

The Deadlift explained

TheDeadlift Challenge: Testing my max

The best way to build muscle

Happy Training!


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