Deadlift and Its Variations: Perfect Exercises for Your Backside

Deadlift as an effective exercise for the hip, legs, and back receives considerable popularity among fitness enthusiasts. It is a complementary and necessary exercise for people who always focus on working their chest and shoulders - the backside matters to achieve a balance of your body muscles!

Deadlift exercise can be really difficult for weight-lifting newbie as it requires you to lift a heavy weight. Besides, if you perform it wrong, you may hurt your waist or suffer from cramping muscles. Here, we will introduce the deadlift and its 4 variations so you can have a first try on deadlifts and explore more about this popular muscle-building exercise. Here we go!

1. Conventional Deadlift

It mainly targets your lats and glutes, and also works your hamstrings.

Conventional deadlift

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and put the barbell in front of your feet.
  • Screw the feet into the floor, creating a strong tension through the glutes.
  • Bend down and grip the bar with your hands just outside the knees. 
  • Lower your hips slightly to hinge at the level of your hips, and have your lats contracted while picking up the weight.
  • Lock your weight when you get into a standing position, keeping your torso neutral.
  • Stretch your spine and squat the weight back down.

2. Dumbbell Deadlift

It basically is the same movement as a conventional deadlift, but lifting dumbbells is more friendly to beginners. If the barbell is too heavy for you, you are recommended to start with the dumbbell deadlift. Starting with pulling up a dumbbell of 11lbs in each hand, you can experience and reinforce proper deadlift mechanics of the whole process. Then, you can level up to switch to a heavier weight or a barbell.

Dumbbell deadlift
Photo: IG@mrskatrinafernandez

3. Romanian Deadlift

With this variation, your hamstrings will now be the focus. Differing from a conventional deadlift, it begins at the standing position.

Romanian Deadlift
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell and keep your back straight.
  • Start hinging forward at your hips and slightly bend your knees while lowering the weight.
  • The weights should follow the line of the legs.
  • Contract your glutes and lats muscles to attain back the starting position.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift

Stiff leg deadlifting improves balance and coordination; meanwhile, it strengthens the lower back and torso, along with the muscles in the thigh.

Single leg deadlift
Photo: IG@mrskatrinafernandez
  • Stand straight with the dumbbell or other weight hanging down the thigh. 
  • Slightly bend the knees, bow forward, pull the tailbone back, and let the opposite leg kick back while keeping the back straight. Do not lift the leg too high. Square the elevated leg to the floor is just fine.
  • Repeat this for the other arm and leg too.

5. Dorian Yates Style Deadlift

It is an advanced variation. The difference between it and conventional is that the trainee does not put the weight down on the floor between reps in this exercise. Instead, you should lower the weight to the middle of the shins and lift it again.

It requires you to keep tension on the lower and upper back muscles. So if you are a bodybuilder and intend to build a strong back, perform Dorian deadlifts.

Dorian deadlift
Photo: Youtube@FitnessGuruSG

The Bottom Line

Deadlift and its four variations work well for building muscle mass. However, beginners should exercise with a guide to ensure they focus on the correct form during the whole process. Looking forward to your feedback after following this instruction!


Related: Deadlift VS Squat: Know the Differences

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