If you have a smaller gym, or your gym is more beginner-friendly, there might not be an obvious place where to deadlift. You don’t want to be in people’s way and you don’t want to be seen as “that guy” or “that girl”. So where do you deadlift in the gym?
The recommended place to deadlift at the gym is on a deadlifting platform. If a platform isn’t available, the next place to deadlift is near the squat rack. If neither is available, any place out of the way of people walking is best. Using a barbell from a bench is acceptable if none are available.
The Best Place to Deadlift at the Gym
The best place to deadlift at the gym is one of the dedicated deadlifting platforms. These platforms are designed to take heavy loads and provide a sturdy surface to push off with your legs. Unfortunately, most gyms don’t have such platforms, especially a lot of smaller, beginner-friendly, or cardio-type gyms.
If a deadlifting platform isn’t available, it’s normal to deadlift in front of the squat rack. One thing to keep in mind though, if there are multiple barbells and only one squat rack, you should try to find an open area to deadlift so you’re not taking up the squat rack.
However, if in front of the squat rack is the only place, then it’s fine. Keep in mind, you generally don’t want to deadlift in the squat rack, but just in front of it.
We asked a few other lifters and this is what they had to say:
Deadlifts in front of a squat rack is what I do, but never in the rack itself.
If there is only one rack, I wouldn’t deadlift in front of it. Someone else might want to squat. Take the barbell somewhere else (assuming there are multiple barbells).
Never deadlift in the rack. Instead, use any open floor space in the free weight area. I see some other guys deadlifting in front of the squat rack and that’s what I do as well. If there’s only one squat rack, there’s absolutely no reason to be deadlifting in there, it’s going to piss some people off.
My gym is pretty friendly when it comes to Olympic lifting. While there are 2 deadlifting platforms and multiple power racks, people will generally lift in the open areas away from everyone.
Should I Feel Guilty About Taking up Space or Using the Bench Barbell?
If you need to move a bench out of the way or steal a barbell from the bench, that’s perfectly fine if there are no other good options.
Remember, you’re paying to use the gym just as much as anyone else. You have the right to be there and get your workout in. Be courteous and confident and don’t worry too much about what other people think.
If you are self-conscious about moving things around a bit, you can try going during less busy hours. This will give you a chance to move things around and experiment without being in anyone’s way.
But certainly don’t let the fear that you might inconvenience someone take away from you reaching your fitness goals. Do what you need to do. It’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes.
Is the Smith Machine Good for Deadlifts?
You may hear that Smith machines are acceptable for deadlifts, but I really disagree. The main issue is that Smith machines don’t go straight up and down. This means if you are in the correct starting position, you are ending with the bar a few inches inward to your body. This hinders your range of motion and is just not a good idea.
I started going to Planet Fitness that had no barbells and only a smith machine. Planet Fitness was nice for the price and convenience, but I ended up switching gyms as they lacked the equipment I wanted. Even though I go to a more expensive gym now, it’s much more motivating for me and it’s closer. And it’s no surprise that the closer your gym is, the more likely you are going to go.