Deadlift Variations

  1. Deadlift Variations

    Different Types of Deadlift

    Conventional Deadlift (When the term “deadlift” is used, it is usually referred to a conventional variant. This technique heavily employs the leg muscles, amongst many other secondary muscles, like back and arms).

    Sumo Deadlift (The legs are spread far apart to the sides, almost reaching the weight plates on the barbell, with arms reaching down inside of legs, mimicking a stance of sumo fighters. In oppose to conventional sumo deadlift involves heavier use of legs (especially hamstrings) and glutes instead of the back. If you have a massive waist or if you are really tall but have short arms I recommend you to do sumo. This technique may place greater stress on the connective tissues of the pelvic bone, so be careful how you do it).

    Romanian Deadlift (This variant is used by Olympic weightlifters. Emphasis is on the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. At lowest position waist should be straight with back parallel to floor. The bar is grabbed by extending the hips and bending the knees while the back is fully arched. It is raised by contracting glutes and hamstrings. Usually, a very wide snatch grip is used).

    Stiff-Leg Deadlift (This is another variant very similar to Romanian style that is primarily used in bodybuilding for developing hamstrings and glutes. The only difference between these two is that with stiff-leg you bend from the waist and with Romanian deadlift from the hips).

    Single Leg Deadlift (This is actually a stiff-leg deadlift only performed standing on one leg. Dumbbells or barbell is used, either with one or two hands).

    Trap Bar Deadlift (Trap bar has a hollow part in the middle where a lifter can step in and grab the two side handles. This creates more room for the knees to pass through thus recruiting the legs and glutes more than back).

    Side Deadlift (Also known as the suitcase deadlift, it is very similar to trapbar version where instead of the bar two dumbbells or suitcases, like in Strongman competition, are deadlifted).

    Rack Pull (Also called a partial deadlift, it is performed in squat rack or power rack for strengthening the lockout part of the motion. Due to its shortened range of motion considerably higher amount of weight can be lifted. The only limitation lies in the grip. To overcome this weakness, wrist straps can be used in

    Deads w/Bands
    YouTube - WC Waldron - 405 X 3 deadlift with blue bands

    Box Deadlifts
    Muscles Worked Low back, hamstrings, glutes, grip

    The box deadlift is a great training tool for many reasons. One, it allows for a greater time that you pull; obviously the ROM is greater so you are forced to pull for a longer period of time. I think this also helps your grip - you are forced to hang onto the bar for a longer period of time. Two, this seems to help people that have weak lower backs and a weak start in the deadlift. And finally, it adds some much needed variety into your training.

    To set this up, all you need is a box that allows you increase the ROM without smashing your toes. .

    Suitcase Deads
    Suitcase deadlift is exactly what the name suggests. Lifting a weight similar to how one lifts and holds a suitcase. So, instead of the implement being in front of the body it is to the side.
    This is a great core stability exercise. Its provides rotational torque so it is an excellent anti-rotation exercise. You have to resist the rotation from the off-balanced load and keep the torso "level" or "symmetrical".

    Although many purists will tell you that a "true" suitcase deadlift is done with an olympic bar this is usually just macho claptrap resting on how the "old timers" did things. The exercise is the basic parameters of the movement rather than the implement being lifted. Different implements provide slightly different challenges but the advantages of the suitcase dealift are present whether you use a dumbell or a barbell.
    As Eric Cressey explains here this is a very "real world" situation:
    "The load in [the] hand is a destabilizing torque that attempts to shift [us] into lateral flexion as contralateral core musculature fires to keep [us] erect….Our lower extremities operate in predominantly closed-chain motion on stable surfaces in the real world - and the destabilizing torques we encounter further up the kinetic chain are truly functional instability training."
    Dumbells are usually used but kettlebells are also perfect for the suitcase deadlift.
    As mentioned above, to increase the stability and grip challenge, some people use barbells. Keep in mind that although the barbell will add a new grip and stability challenge it will limit the total amount of weight you can handle and/or the reps. There is no real advantage to focusing on being able to use a barbell exclusively. Use a variety of implements of your choice. Sandbags also work well.
    Although you can do perform the suitcase deadlift with a weight on each side it is usually done with only one weight to increase the stability challenge. Two weights create more balance and it is just "too easy". However, a two weight suitcase deadlift would be a great place for a beginner to start.
    When using a dumbell the primary problem will be mobility. The dumbell is much lower than a barbell loaded with olympic plates would be. At first there are a several choices to get around the mobility problem (the different methods can of course be mixed).
    How to Perform

    The basic way to begin is to treat the lift more like a Romanian Deadlift in that the movement begins from the top instead of off the floor:
    1. Hold a dumbell to the side of the body and stand with narrow shoulder width or less stance.
    2. Shoulder back, chest high and lower back held in a neutral position (natural arch).
    3. Just like lowering with a conventinal deadlift, break first with the hips, bend the knees and continue moving your butt back while keeping the arch in your lower back. Perform this lowering slowly and under control.
    4. The dumbell should be lowering pretty much straight down in line with the scapula.
    5. Stop lowering at the point where you cannot maintain the spine, chest, and shoulder position if you go any lower.
    6. Initiate the lift with a powerful hip thrust. Think GLUTES. Keep the torso level. No cantering to one side toward the dumbell.
    7. It may help to mimic what you do with the lifting arm side on the non-weighted side. So pretend that you have a weight in that hand as well. This is not strictly necessary.
    As you gain mobility you can lower the dumbell more and more until you can touch the floor. After that you can try beginning the movement from the floor.
    Start from a platform:
    Here, instead of starting from the top, or "hang" position we start from the bottom with the weight implement on a platform about mid shin level or lower depending on mobility. No need for precision. Pick a comfortable height and then lower the platform as mobility is gained. Obviously this method may not be practical for everyone, depending on gym equiment.
    Heavy duty stackable aerobic steppers will make a perfect adjustable platform for this and many commercial gyms have these in abundance.
    1. Place the dumbell or kettlebell on the platform and stand beside it with the weight right beside the leg. Narrow shoulder width or less stance.
    2. As above, shoulders back, chest high, back neutral.
    3. Same as above except the hand is empty. Lower until you can grap the dumbell.
    4. Same as step 6 above.

    A favorite method of mine is to use the EZ-Curl bar. Not all EZ-Curl bars will work but the type with a flat part in the middle like the one picured provides a perfect handhold. The bar can be loaded with olympic plates so you get a height very much like a standard deadlift done with an olympic barbell. The curl bar is much longer so this will increase the stability requirements but it is still much easier than a barbell since it is shorter and the cambering helps it balance.
    Another slightly more challenging choice is a cambered bar. These are 7 feet long (not the giant cambered bar which places the handhold very high).
    How to Use

    Use suitcase deadlifts primarily as a secondary lift to develop the core and hips. Moderate to high reps will be the most usefull. So four or greater.
    Common mistakes:

    1. Wide stance. Like a conventional deadlift a narrow stance is best. With the suitcase deadlift a wide stance places the knees out requiring you to reach around them. Common sense should tell you this is silly.
    2. Remaining "upright". Do not try to keep your back straight up and down. As with the conventional deadlift the butt will be lower than the shoulders but higher than the knees.
    3. Lowering the weight to a position forward of the foot. Many trainees seem to think it is proper to simulate a conventional deadlift by starting the lift with the weight in front of the foot. The weight may be beside the foot or slighlty behind it but never forward of it. If you are using a larger implement such as a barbell then the hand should be beside or slightly behind the foot.
    In terms of form this usually means you are not bring the hips back and instead are just "bending over" at the hips (if not the lumbar). This may be a mobility issue and it shifts the weight forward toward the toes. Just as in a conventional deadlift the weight should be at the heel/center of foot and the lift should be initiated from the heels, not the toes. This tends to coincide also with a failure to keep the shoulders back and the chest high.
    However, a barbell will tend to necessitate a little wiggle to balance the load. The hand may drift a bit forward or backward. This is no big deal as long as the tendancy is not to let the hand drift forward of the toes

  2. Quote Originally Posted by The Neck View Post
    Different Types of Deadlift
    GREAT POST! lots of great info. Reps.

  3. Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo14 View Post
    GREAT POST! lots of great info. Reps.
    Glad to share, if you know of some I missed, please feel free to add them.

  4. What do you think of Snatch Grip Deadlifts?
  5. Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Turk1976 View Post
    What do you think of Snatch Grip Deadlifts?

    There good to go, I've always referred to them as wide grip deads.

  6. Snatch/Wide Grip Deads


    The wider grip increases the distance the bar must travel. It places more emphasis on the upper and mid back especially since upper back extension is made much more difficult. It also challenges the grip. The emphasis is brought out toward the smaller fingers.
    The exercise can be used in any way that a regular deadlift is both as a supplement or as a main lift. Although singles are probably not going to be employed by many!

    If your purpose is to lift heavy then use straps if necessary and don't be hesitant to employ straps when needed otherwise. They are a great grip trainer but the punishment to the smaller fingers can be a detriment rather than an advantage if over-trained.

    You will not be able to lift as much as your conventional deadlift but you can probably manage at least 85% of your conventional, if not more.

    Another idea is to do snatch grip deads off racks. It has the same advantages as stated above and is especially good if you are stuck with one rack position that is too high.

    How to Setup the Snatch Grip Deadlift
    The setup procedure is the same as for the conventional deadlift except of course the postioin obtained will be different because of the wider grip. The hips will be lower.

    For grip, having the index fingers on the rings is a good starting place. A good way to find your grip is to match it to the distance between your elbow. Standing centered to the bar, you can bend down to the bar and grip it with your elbows bent at 90 degree angles. The place your hands end up is about where you will want your grip to be during the snatch grip deadlifts. This is a do it yourself version of the method seen here.

    From here the setup is the same.
    1. Shins should be very close to the bar. Within 2 inches. Never more than 4 although 4 is usually too far away. Feet should be underneath the bar and shoulder width or a little less than shoulder width. Most will NOT want a wider foot placement than this and narrow will tend to be the best option. If you take a wider stance then you will simple be contending with your knees coming inwards during the lift.

    2. Shoulders should be forward of the bar so that the the bar lines up underneath the scapulae.

    3. Hips should be as close to the bar as possible without sacrificing rule one or two.

    4. Lower back should be set in it's natural, slightly arched (lordotic) position. No round of the back forward (flexion). And there is no need to exaggerate the natural curvature.

    5. Shoulders should be back, scapula retracted, neck in a neutral position (chin tucked). Never put the head "down". Some people seem to think of a tucked chin position as being the same as "head down" but it is not.

    6. Don't look down. Keep the chin slightly tucked and the neck in a neural position. You can look straight ahead at a neutral point approximately 6 feet away (this can be an imaginary point) but it is advantageous to look up. Just remember to look up with the eyes ONLY. Never by extending the neck. So, the neck stays in a neutral position but the eyes do the looking.

  7. Here's another, 1 handed deadlifts (I use a Rolling Thunder for them).
  8. Kettlebell Sumo Deads


    Straddle kettlebell with feet slightly wider apart than shoulder width. Squat down with arms extended downward between legs and grasp kettlebell handle with overhand grip with both hands. Position shoulders over kettlebell with taut low back and trunk close to vertical.

    Pull kettlebell up off floor by extending hips and knees. Stand upright with chest high. Lower kettlebell to ground between legs while squatting down with taut lower back and trunk close to vertical.

    Keep feet flat on floor, hips low, and back taut thoughout lift. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Do not jerk weight from floor.

  9. Dont forget:

    defecit Deadlifts

    Block pulls, similar to rack pulls but weight is on blocks

    Band Deadlifts

    Axle deadlifts

    Sumo stiff leg deadlifts

  10. Quote Originally Posted by MongoSS View Post
    Dont forget:

    defecit Deadlifts

    Block pulls, similar to rack pulls but weight is on blocks

    Band Deadlifts

    Axle deadlifts

    Sumo stiff leg deadlifts

    Yes, good ones!

  11. Trap Bar Deadlifts = Hex-Bar Deadlifts, yeah?


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