8 Deadlift Variations – Strengthen Your Weaknesses and Form

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When the phrase full body workout is mentioned, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

A set of squats supersetted with a set of bicep curls? A grueling 90 minute leg session followed by a grueling 90 minute chest session? A high-intensity body sculpting class that combines lower body and upper body exercises into one 30 minute sweat-fest?

Related: Deadlift Every Day: 6 Weeks to a Bigger Back and Deadlift

When the notion of a full body workout is brought to light we normally think of combining multiple exercises that target multiple body parts. We will combine a lower body movement with an upper body movement, or combine two separate muscle groups into one long, grueling, full-body workout.

But, what if you could get a full body pump by only performing one exercise?

The deadlift is one of the best exercises you can perform when looking to engage your entire body within one single movement. Now, does that mean if you are running a full-body split style of training you should start deadlifting 7 days a week? No. But, the deadlift does target almost everything in your body from traps, to lower back and all the way down to your hamstrings.

Not only is the deadlift a top movement for building a strong posterior chain and stronger body as a whole, the deadlift is also a movement that will strengthen your mind. If you don’t believe in the mind-to-muscle connection then clearly you have never deadlifted before. While the deadlift may appear to be a lift where you just walk up to the bar and rip the weight up towards your stomach as fast as possible, it’s much more than that.

The deadlift is a complicated movement, and perfecting your deadlift takes precision, time, and dedication. This lift requires focus and establishing a mental connection with the weight you are about to lift. And, like with any lift, it’s important to perform this movement in a variety of different ways and styles so that you can strengthen your weakness, strengthen your form, and build the lift up in a smart, effective manner.

With these eight deadlift variations that go beyond the conventional deadlift, you can keep your deadlift training new and exciting while allowing yourself to perfect your deadlift form and strengthen any weakness you may have.

Deadlifts

8 Deadlift Variations

#1 – Snatch Grip Deadlift

Setup: Narrow stance with toes pointed straight forward or slightly outward.

The Movement: Set up your stance just like you did for the conventional variation, but with a wider grip. With this movement you want your pointer or middle finger on the smooth ring of the bar. Push your hips down and keep your chest up and back straight. Initiate the pull just the same as a conventional deadlift.

#2 – Sumo Deadlift

Setup: Wide stance with feet point outward at almost a 45 degree angle.

The Movement: Set up with your shins a few inches away from the bar and in a very wide stance, a good measurement is to line the middle of your shin up with the smooth rings on the bar. Drop your butt down and grab the bar with hands between the legs, keep your hips back and chest up. Push your feet down into the ground, push your hips forward, and lock out the lift. Focus on engaging your glutes and hamstrings in this movement.

#3 – Romanian Deadlift

Romanian DeadliftSetup: Narrow stance with toes pointed straight forward or slightly outward.

The Movement: Grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Lift the bar as you would with a conventional deadlift movement but this time, hinge at the hip until the barbell is about mid shin, and then drop the weight back down to the ground.

#4 – Suitcase Deadlift

Setup: Narrow stance with toes pointed straight forward or slightly outward.

The Movement: As the name of this movement states, imagine you are squatting down to pick up the heaviest suitcase of your life. Set a barbell up along your side, get down into a conventional deadlift stance, and grab the bar in one hand. Pick the bar up as if you were doing a conventional deadlift.

#5 – Deficit Deadlift

Setup: Narrow stance with toes pointed straight forward or slightly outward.

The Movement: Use the same technique as you would to perform a conventional deadlift, but perform the movement while standing on a box or plate so when you are pulling and bringing the weight back down below the bottom of your feet.

#6 – Block or Rack Pulls

Setup: Narrow stance with toes pointed straight forward or slightly outward.

The Movement: Set up a bar as you would with a conventional deadlift, but have the bar resting on a set of blocks or racks within a power rack so that the weight is already about half off the ground. You want the bar resting around knee to just below knee level. Perform the lift as you would a conventional deadlift. This movement will help strengthen the lockout portion of your deadlift.

#7 – Dumbbell Deadlift

Setup: Feet slightly wider than hip width with two dumbbells or kettlebells on the floor near your feet.

The Movement: Squat down slightly, hinge at the hip until you can grab the bell, and lift the dumbbell up until you are standing completely upright. Set it back to the ground by squatting slightly and hinging at the hip. Keep the dumbbells close to your body and your arms locked with a slight bend in your elbows as you perform this movement. You can also stand on a mat or box for dumbbell deadlifts to perform as a deficit movement.

#8 – Single Leg Deadlift

Setup: Feet slightly wider than hip width. Single-leg movement with a slight bend in the knee.

The Movement: Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and stand straight up, standing on one foot. You should be holding the bell on the opposite side of the foot on the ground. Lower the kettlebell or dumbbells down in front of your down foot as you simultaneously raise your back leg of the ground until your torso and leg are parallel with the ground. This movement requires focus and balance so start with a very light weight until you have mastered the movement.

Stronger Deadlift, Stronger Mind

By incorporating multiple deadlift variations into your training you will be strengthen both your deadlift and your mind-to-muscle connection. Use the deadlift as a full body movement to strengthen both your body and mind.

For more fitness and nutrition tips subscribe to the MuscleMinds Youtube channel and follow me on Instagram @thebrentness.

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Name: Brently Rousset

Bio: Born, raised, and currently residing in beautiful San Diego, CA, I've been around some form of fitness almost my entire life. My mom was an aerobics teacher at the local gym when I was in elementary school through middle school. My dad had a full home gym in the garage and raced mountain bikes professionally through my high school years. My parents engrained the importance of health and fitness into me from a young age. I started playing soccer in my elementary days only to leave it behind for my true loves of basketball and surfing.