When it comes to working out, few exercises are as effective as deadlifts. Though they primarily target the back and leg muscles, they engage nearly every muscle in the body, making them ideal for building strength, muscle mass, endurance and stability.
If done properly, these moves activate and engage the hamstrings, glutes, trapezius, bicep and triceps, core, hip flexors, quads, and back muscles. It makes them an incredibly effective full-body workout. And because they use more than one joint and muscle group at a time, deadlifts are also great for developing functional strength.
Deadlifts are not just a great full-body exercise, but they're also not as hard to perform as you might think. Once you learn the right form, you'll be able to gradually add weight over time and make your workouts more challenging.
So if you want to build strength or muscle endurance, here are some of its advanced variations that you can try!
Best Beginner Deadlift Variations
The deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for strength building and muscle mass as it works different muscle groups. However, it can also be a challenging activity to master, particularly for beginners. That's why starting with a variation that matches your fitness level is essential.
Here are the 10 best deadlift variations for beginners:
1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
In the Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift, the hamstrings and glutes are the primary muscles targeted. However, this exercise also works the posterior chain muscles (i.e. erector spinae, lats, etc.), as well as the core muscles.
While the Romanian and Conventional deadlifts may appear different because of the barbell or dumbbell used, there are many other differences as well.
The key difference is that the Romanian deadlift emphasizes more of a hip hinge movement, whereas the conventional deadlift also involves some knee flexion.
Moreover, the Romanian deadlift is typically done with lighter weights and higher reps, while the conventional deadlift is usually done with heavier weights and lower reps.
How to Do It?
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at your hips and lower the dumbbells towards the floor, keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent.
- Once the dumbbells reach the floor, reverse the motion and return to the starting position.
- Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your lower back.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps and sets
2. Kettlebell Deadlift
Kettlebell deadlift helps strengthen the back and legs. Unlike traditional deadlifts, which normally have a wider grip, such deadlifts have a narrow grip, which gives you a little control when moving the weight.
Additionally, kettlebells are a lot less intimidating and can be done almost anywhere. This deadlift variation is an excellent way toimprove your posture and balance.
You can help prevent injuries and improve your overall athletic performance by engaging the stabilizing muscles in your back and legs.
How to Do It?
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
- Bend down and grasp the kettlebell with both hands, keeping your back straight.
- As you exhale, drive through your heels and lift the kettlebell off the floor, extending your hips and knees until you're standing upright.
- Reverse the movement, lowering the kettlebell back to the floor and breathing in as you do so.
- Repeat for 8-10 repetitions.
Related Article: Kettlebell Workout: 12-Week Workout Plan for Stronger Core
3. Foam Roller Hip Hinge
If you want to improve hip mobility and prevent injuries, this movement can be of great help. The exercise is performed by placing a foam roller just below the pelvis and then rolling it back and forth to keep the hips level and maintain a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
It is essential to focus on keeping the core engaged throughout the exercise as it not only improves hip mobility but also increases core stability and reduces the risk of injury.
You can perform it as part of a warm-up or cool-down routine or incorporate it into a more comprehensive strength-training program. When performed regularly, the foam roller hip hinge can surely improve your athletic performance.
How to Do It?
- Use your wrists and forearms to press down on either side of the foam roller as you place it beneath your pelvis.
- Roll the foam roller down your thighs slowly while maintaining an erect posture and bringing your hips back simultaneously.
- Stop moving slightly above your knees, then move back to where you were before.
- For each rep, reset the foam roller and repeat.
4. Cable Pull Through
You can do this exercise with a cable machine, which involves gripping its handle and pulling it through the body, working the muscles in the arms, chest, and back.
Cable pull through can be performed with various grip positions and weights, making it a versatile exercise for both beginner and experienced lifters.
They find this exercise more comfortable than traditional weightlifting exercises, such as the bench press. Ultimately, cable pull through is a great way to build strength and add variety to your workout routine.
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.
5. Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift
The trap bar Romanian deadlift is a great exercise for building powerful legs. TThe trap bar allows you to keep your shins perpendicular to the ground throughout the entire range of motion, which recruits more muscles than a conventional deadlift.
Plus, the added weight of the barbell increases the resistance, making your muscles work even harder, which results in faster results in terms of strength and size.
How to Do It?
- Maintain a hip-width position as you stand inside the trap bar.
- With your hips and knees locked out, deadlift the weight into position at the top while maintaining a neutral hold on the handles.
- Push your hips back and hunch forward till the bar is just below knee height.
- Drive through the entire foot and concentrate on pushing the floor away.
- After the required repetitions, return to where you were before.
6. Trap Bar Rack Pull
Have you ever seen someone working out with a trap bar and thought, "Why on earth are they using that weird-looking contraption?" Well, my friend, that person is probably doing a trap bar rack pull and reaping the many benefits that come along with it.
This compound exercise targets multiple muscle groups at once, making it an extremely efficient workout and great for building explosive power and improving grip strength.
And because the trap bar allows you to keep your hips and shoulders in alignment, it's much easier on your joints than other exercises like deadlifts. So if you're looking for a workout that will give you results without beating up your body, the trap bar rack pull is a great choice.
How to Do It?
- Set the pins about mid-shin or knee height
- Stand inside the trap bar with a hip-width position.
- Hinge forward while bringing your hips back. Reach down and take a neutral grip on the handles.
- Inhale, pull up on the bar, keeping your hands tightly by your sides, drive through the entire foot and concentrate on pushing the floor away.
- As you stretch your knees and hips, ensure the bar tracks straight.
- After locking out your hips, you can reverse the motion by pushing your hips back and hinging forward.
- Bring the bar back to the pins, start over, and repeat.
7. Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift exercise involves lifting a weighted barbell from the ground using a hexagonal-shaped bar. The name "trap bar" comes from the fact that the hexagonal shape of the bar allows you to be caught or "trapped" in the middle (inside it), helping distribute the weight evenly.
Powerlifters and strength athletes often use this exercise as it allows more weight to be lifted than other variations. Additionally, this deadlift variation is a safer exercise as it reduces the risk of injury to the lower back and knees.
Finally, the trap bar deadlifts are excellent for building lower-body strength and power.
How to Do It?
- Step inside the bar and your feet should be aligned with the weight sleeves.
- Kneel down and push the hips further back for a rise that emphasizes the hips.
- Allow the knees to move further forward for a squatter, quad-dominant lift.
- Hold the handles firmly in your hands.
- Pull your shoulders down and back.
- Lift the weight while bracing your core and pushing through your feet.
- Bring your hips forward while contracting the glutes, and avoid overextending your spine.
8. Barbell Romanian Deadlift
This strength-training compound exercise primarily works the muscles in the back of your lower body, including the hamstrings and glutes. The Romanian deadlift can be performed with either a heavy weight for low reps or lighter weight for high reps.
The benefits include increased muscular strength and size in the lower body, improved athleticism and explosive power, and reduced risk of injury. Additionally, because the exercise works muscles often neglected in other exercises (such as the hamstrings), it can help create a more balanced and symmetrical physique.
How to Do It?
- Hold the bar over your shoelaces while standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Deadlift the bar till your hips and knees are locked out using a double overhand grip that is a little wider than hip-width.
- Pushing the hips back and stretching forward to get the bar correctly below knees.
- Be sure to extend the entire leg during the exercise.
- Repeat as necessary for the required amount of reps.
Related Article: Top 10 Essential Barbell Exercises for Building Muscle and Strength
The barbell rack pull is meant to build strength and size in the lower back and traps and develop explosive power. You can perform it with a bit of creativity using an Olympic bar, EZ curl bar, or even a trap bar.
If you have access to a power rack, that is ideal, but if not, any sturdy object you can wrap a bar around will work just fine. It improves your posture and helps improve your deadlift technique.
So if you are looking for an exercise that will test your limits and push you to new levels of strength and size, look no further than the barbell rack pull!
How to Do It?
- Approach the bar with your toes pointed straight ahead and just under it with feet shoulder-width apart. Your torso must be straight and raise your chest.
- Grab the bar with your hands just outside the knees while bending your knees slightly and hunching forward at the hips. The bar can be held overhand or mixed.
- Take a breath and start raising the bar. Push through your heels and stretch your hips and knees as you raise.
- Pull the weight up and back when you reach a lockout while drawing your shoulders back.
- Hold the weight in the top position.
- By bending your knees and bringing your upper body down, you may bring the bar back to the rack.
- Maintain a straight back and keep looking forward as you get out of the posture.
Just hearing the word "landmine" is enough to make most people tense up. And for a good reason, the idea of this hidden explosive device is enough to send anyone running for cover. What if we tell you there was a way to use the landmine, not to destroy things, but to build them up?
The landmine deadlift. This exercise may sound dangerous, but it's actually a great way to build strength and power.
It builds strength in the legs, hips, and core, helps improve bone density and develops power and explosiveness. So next time you're looking for a way to mix up your workout routine, don't be afraid to give the landmine deadlift a try!
How to Do It?
- Place one end of the weighted barbell or landmine in a corner.
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, stand in front of the loaded side of the landmine with the sleeve gap between them.
- With your arms straight and interlaced, lean back on your hips and grab the landmine by the collar.
- Brace yourself, stand up straight, and lift the bar while maintaining a straight back. Put your glutes to work and maintain this posture.
- Once the bar is resting on the floor, lower yourself by sitting back on your hip and gently bending your knees.
1. How do I improve my initial deadlift?
You can do a few things to improve your initial deadlift:
- Make sure you are using a weight that is challenging enough. If you find that you can quickly complete the lift, increase the weight.
- Make sure your form is correct. Ensure that your back is straight and your shoulders are down and back.
- Focus on pulling the weight up quickly and explosively.
2. Which deadlift variation is best for me?
There is no exact answer to this question, as everyone will have different preferences and abilities regarding deadlifting. Some people may find barbell deadlifts the best option, while others may prefer the trap bar or kettlebell deadlifts.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to experiment with different variations to see which one is the most comfortable and effective for them.
3. How long do you hold a deadlift?
There is no set time on how long you should hold a deadlift, as it will depend on the individual and their specific goals. However, holding the position for two to five seconds is generally recommended to achieve the desired effect.
The Bottom Line
Deadlifting is a great exercise to improve strength, power, and muscle mass. However, if you find the regular deadlift too challenging or monotonous, there are plenty of variations you can try to keep things interesting.
We have listed 10 fantastic deadlift variations for beginners that will help you improve your pulls. Give them a try and see how they work for you!