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10 Highly Effective Deadlift Alternatives for Beginners, at-Home Workouts, and More


10 Highly Effective Deadlift Alternatives for Beginners, at-Home Workouts, and More
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The deadlift is heralded as the "king of all exercises." And for all the good reasons, it's an incredibly effective compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups at once.

However, the deadlift is also a very technical lift that can be difficult to master. Additionally, it requires some equipment, including a barbell, dumbbell, and weight plates, which can be a barrier to entry for some people, especially beginners.

Thankfully, there are plenty of deadlift alternatives for beginners that are just as effective, if not more. This article will cover 10 of the best deadlift alternatives you can use at home, at the gym, or even on the go.

So whether you're a beginner lifter or a seasoned pro, there's an exercise on this list for you.

10 Deadlift Alternatives for Beginners

So you want to deadlift, but you're not quite sure how to get started. Or maybe you've been doing it for a while and are looking for new variations to keep things interesting. Either way, we've got you covered. Here are 10 deadlift alternatives perfect for beginners (and seasoned lifters alike).

1. Block Deadlift

The block deadlift, called rack pull, is a partial range of motion focusing exclusively on the top end. The goal in this exercise isn't to move repeatedly but to focus and deploy your energy wisely before moving down into lower-body ranges or vice versa for higher-intensity activities like cleans and snatches.

Lifters use blocks or safety pins to deadlift off of. The height varies depending on how much range you want, but most people set it at about knee level for a tough challenge that requires flexibility in your hips and lower back muscles.

This exercise works your glutes, spinal erectors, traps, and other hip-powerhouse muscles like hamstrings or adductors that may be overlooked and can help you eliminate excess belly fat.

How to Do It?

  • Stack up boxes so that the barbell begins at roughly your knee height.
  • Grip the barbell directly outside your thighs as you approach it.
  • Aim to align your shoulders with the barbell to achieve a modest forward torso lean.
  • Breathe deeply, engage your core, tighten your lats, and raise the barbell off the blocks.
  • Squeezing your glutes, visualize thrusting your hips toward the barbell.
  • The barbell should rest on your thighs throughout the full range of motion.
  • Your knees and hips should lock at the same time.
  • Repeat by bringing the barbell back to the blocks.

2. Romanian Deadlift

If you want to emphasize the glutes and low back, then the Romanian deadlift is there for you.

The Romanian deadlift is unique because there's minimal knee flexion, and it’s taught more like pulling from the hips. It allows you to get your legs into an almost straight position while avoiding unnecessary movement at first glance.

When performing this exercise, the lifter will start from a standing position and hinge forward while pushing their hips back and leaning their shoulders toward them.

How to Do It?

  • Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and the weight in front of your thighs.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to lower the weight toward the floor.
  • Keep your back straight and your core engaged as you lower the weight until it's just below knee level.
  • Then, extend your hips and knees to stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top of the move.
  • Repeat for 8-12 reps.

3. Deficit Deadlift

The deficit deadlift is an excellent exercise for building strength and power. This exercise involves lifting the weight off the ground with an increased range of motion, meaning you will need to use more muscles to lift the weight, leading to more gains in strength and power.

This exercise has many benefits, but some of the most notable include improved explosiveness, greater muscle recruitment, and increased difficulty. In addition, this deadlift variation can also help improve your posture and alignment.

By increasing the range of motion, you will be able to engage your posterior chain muscles, which are responsible for helping you maintain good posture.

How to Do It?

  • Place 45-pound plates to set up the deficit deadlift platform.
  • Your shins should touch the barbell as you place your feet below it.
  • Set your hips by lowering them slightly from the standard deadlift start position.
  • Begin the exercise by telling yourself to "push the floor away" to use your quadriceps.
  • Simultaneously, lock your knees and hips together.

However, it is an advanced form of weightlifting that requires careful consideration and practice if you want optimal results from your training program.

4. Pause Deadlift

The pause deadlift is an excellent alternative to traditional deadlifts. You can perform it by halving your range of motion and pausing for 1-2 seconds at the midpoint before proceeding with another half again beyond where you initially locked out your hips to finish this challenging exercise.

It is a great tool for building hamstrings. Since this lift is tempoed, it's perfect if you cannot do heavy weights or haven't been able to work out in a while because this will allow you to take your time and perfect your form.

However, it is an advanced form of weightlifting that requires careful consideration and practice if you want optimal results from your training program.

How to Do It?

  • Begin in the standard deadlift position.
  • Pause the load for 1-2 seconds between the floor and the knee as you drive off the ground.
  • When the barbell is still, the pause should be measured.
  • During the pause, keep the barbell in place on your shins.
  • Encourage yourself to keep your core tense throughout the pause.
  • Drive to the lockout after the pause, then turn back to the starting place.

5. Single-Leg DB Deadlift

The single-leg dumbbell deadlift is a great choice if you want a workout that will tone your legs and glutes. This exercise isolates each leg, forcing the muscles to work harder. As a result, you will improve your strength and endurance.

In addition, the single-leg dumbbell deadlift helps improve your balance and stability because you're working one side of your body at a time. It forces your muscles to work harder to maintain balance.

It targets the gluteal muscles, often neglected in other exercises, which help give you a firmer, more shapely butt.

How to Do It?

  • Take a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lift the opposite leg off the floor and balance yourself on one foot.
  • Remain forward at the hips, keep your back straight and kick one leg behind you.
  • Avoid turning one hip up and maintain a neutral (square) hip position.
  • Continually move forward with the dumbbells hanging in front of you until your back is parallel to the floor.
  • Rise again, maintaining your balance on one foot.

6. 45-Degree Back Extension

If you're looking for a good alternative to the barbell deadlift, you might want to try the 45-degree back extension. Here's why:

It is an excellent exercise for working the lower back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings, and it's much easier on the joints than the barbell deadlift.

One of the main benefits of the 45-degree back extension is that it allows you to maintain a neutral spine during the entire range of motion. It is important because it helps reduce stress on the spine and lower back muscles.

Another advantage of this exercise is that it recruits more muscle groups than the barbell deadlift. In addition to working the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, the 45-degree back extension also works the core muscles, which makes it a great exercise for overall strength and conditioning.

How to Do It?

  • Set the back extension so you can comfortably lean over the machine's top with your waist.
  • Hold a dumbbell or plate near your chest after grabbing them.
  • Put your feet on the platform and start hinging down toward the ground.
  • Keep your spine neutral and legs straight.
  • Pull your body back to the starting position after continuing until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings.

7. Standing Cable Pull Through

It is a great exercise to add to your routine as it is simple to execute and can be performed with different weight levels, making it perfect for people of all fitness levels. Here are a few of the pros of doing this exercise:

One benefit of pull-throughs is that they help strengthen your posterior chain muscles, the muscles that run along the back of your body, such as your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae. Strengthening these muscles can help improve your posture and reduce back pain.

Another benefit of this exercise is that it can help improve your hip mobility because the motion of the exercise helps loosen up the muscles and tissues around the hip joint, which leads to a better range of motion and less pain in the hips and lower back.

This deadlift alternative is also a great way to build core strength. The resistance provided by the cable helps engage the abdominal muscles, which can lead to a stronger core. A strong core can help improve balance and stability and prevent injuries during other activities.

How to Do It?

  • Attach a rope to a low pulley.
  • Step away from the machine so that the rope is taut.
  • Grasp the rope with both hands, palms facing each other.
  • Bend at the hips and knees, lowering your body into a squatting position. Keep your back straight and core engaged.
  • From the squatting position, drive through your heels to stand up tall, extending your hips and knees.
  • Keep the tension on the rope as you stand and pull it through your legs until it's in front of you again. That's one rep.
  • Complete 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

8. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a type of lunge often used as a lower-body strength-training exercise. Unlike a traditional lunge, the back leg is elevated on a bench or other object, and the front leg does most of the work.

This position challenges the muscles in the front of the leg more than a traditional lunge, making it an effective way to build strength.

Additionally, the Bulgarian split squat can help improve balance and stability because the back leg is not in contact with the ground, and the front leg must bear more weight, which can challenge your proprioception (sense of body position in space). As a result, doing Bulgarian split squats can help you develop better balance and coordination.

Finally, the exercise is relatively easy to learn and can be performed with or without equipment. For these reasons, the Bulgarian split squat is an effective and versatile exercise with many benefits.

How to Do It?

  • Set a box (or riser) up so that it is between mid-shin and the bottom of the knee in height.
  • Stack the box with one foot on top of it and the other in front of it (on your toes)
  • Your legs must be shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend into both knees while maintaining a straight back and weights in each hand.
  • Consider sitting on the back leg while maintaining a vertical front shin.
  • Drive through your heel to stand up when your front thigh is 90 degrees from the floor.

9. Pendlay Row

Let's face it: we all want a strong, toned back. A well-developed back gives the appearance of strength and power, but it can also help improve posture and ease back pain.

The Pendlay row is ideal for targeting the back muscles and offers several advantages over other exercises. First, it allows for a greater range of motion than traditional rows, meaning that more muscle groups are engaged.

Additionally, it is a great exercise for developing explosive power, making it ideal for athletes who need to generate rapid bursts of force.

Finally, the Pendlay row can be performed with various implements, such as dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells, making it a versatile exercise that can be adapted to any fitness level.

How to Do It?

  • Place plates to make a platform and place a barbell on it.
  • Use a wide grip similar to the one you use for bench pressing.
  • In the starting position, the barbell should be a few inches away from your shins.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent, your back parallel to the floor, and your core engaged.
  • If you can't get the bar to your sternum, the load is too heavy, so try rowing it there.
  • As you row the barbell, keep your body still.
  • Drop the barbell back to the floor and come to a complete halt before repeating.

10. Farmer’s Carry

Though farmer's carry is not a substitute for deadlifts, it may be used in conjunction with a few other exercises on this list to create a powerful alternate deadlift routine.

Farmer’s carry advantages make it worth including in your workout routine. For one, it is a great way to build grip strength. If you’ve ever tried to pick up a heavy object and found your hands slipping, you know how important grip strength can be.

Farmers' carry can also help improve your posture and alleviate back pain. Your body must adopt a more upright position when carrying heavy objects. And this exercise can help correct hunched posture and relieve pressure on the spine.

How to Do It?

  • Take hold of a heavy set of dumbbells.
  • Step forward with your shoulders back and your chest high.
  • Walk for a predetermined period or a predetermined distance.


1. What is a good substitute for deadlifts?

There are many suitable substitutes for deadlifts. These exercises include single leg deadlifts, 45 degree hyperextension, standing cable pull throughs, and Bulgarian split squats.

2. What is the safest deadlift?

Different people may have different preferences or tolerances for different types of deadlifts. However, some people believe that the safest deadlift is the rack pulls or block deadlifts, which involves a reduced range of motion, which minimizes the risk of injuries to the lower back.

The Bottom Line

That's all for now! These are just some of our favorite alternatives to conventional deadlifts that are sure to work your whole body without putting unnecessary stress on your lower back.

Always maintain good form throughout each move, using proper gym equipment or modifications when doing at-home workouts.

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