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DEADLIFTS are included in most workout programs for a good reason.

They are pretty much the only exercise that works both the lower and upper body at the same time. You use your glutes, upper thighs, hamstrings, lower back, upper-middle back, traps, forearms, core, and can even engage the chest as well. 

Deadlifts can be intimidating, especially if you are new to lifting. But once you master the movement with proper form, it is pretty simple to execute.

Today we are showing you some beginner deadlift variations

These will help perfect your deadlift form so that you can feel comfortable easing your way into a standard barbell deadlift. 

If you have already mastered the deadlift… this video will be a great refresher to make sure you are using proper form. You can also throw these modifications in when you don’t feel like lifting heavy, hitting PRs, have limited equipment, or want a change-up!

Build Confidence and Check Your Deadlift Form
With These 5 Deadlift Variations

(1) Kettlebell or DB Deadlift Off Of An Elevated Surface
Deadlifting with a free weight such as a kettlebell or dumbbell is an excellent starting point for beginners. It will help teach you how to hip hinge properly. Adding the element of an elevated surface will give you more of a limited and controlled range of motion. 

  • Grab two 45 pound plates. 
  • The stance is similar to your standard deadlift with the toes lightly making contact with the plates. So they are slightly elevated.
  • Grab a KB or DB (hold vertically) and perform a deadlift using the technique tips we go over a little further down. Don’t bend your arms. 
  • Make sure and use a slow tempo so you can get a good feel of the mechanics required for a deadlift.

Once you feel you have mastered the exercise with your toes on an elevated surface, try moving to a flat surface.

(2) Pause Deadlift
These are great because when you first try deadlifting, you may be tempted to rush.

When using a pause technique, you are forcing yourself to establish proper control and balance. 

You can use the KBs, DBs, or you can progress to a pre-loaded barbell. You will perform the movement the same as above, except you will be on a flat surface and pause at different parts of the lift. 

For example:

Set 1.. pause about two inches off the floor.

Set 2.. pause just below the knee.

Set 3.. pause at the upper thigh.

(3) Single-Leg Deadlift
This variation is great for increasing hip strength and improving balance.

  • Hold a KB or DB in one hand and let it hang to the side. Stand on the same leg that you hold the weight. 
  • Slightly bend your knee. Bend at the hip (hip hinge), and as you lower down, you will extend your free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the weight until you are parallel to the ground, and then return to the upright position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides and do the same thing.

Be sure not to bend the back leg or twist the hips while doing the movement.

(4) Rack Pull
This exercise is a good one to try out just before you attempt a “real” deadlift.

It will help you build confidence and improve your grip. 

  • Set the pins of the squat rack to mid-shin height.
  • Put the bar on the pins.
  • Walk up to the bar, so your shins are slightly touching it.
  • Stick your butt back just like you would for the Deadlift.
  • Keep your back flat and lift the bar. Press your hips through at the top of the movement. Return bar back on the pins. 

(5) Sumo Deadlift
This is another excellent way to warm up to using the actual bar set-up that you will be using for the standard deadlift. 

The only thing different in this deadlift variation and the standard deadlift is you will have a really wide stance, and your hands will be in between your legs.

Many people prefer to deadlift this way all the time because they find it more comfortable, especially if you have long limbs or want to lift really heavy.

It is also a solid beginner deadlift variation because the wider stance allows you to stay in a more upright position.

Because you’re not traveling as far from the ground…this variation is also a little bit easier.
Make sure and keep this in mind when you advance to a standard stance. You most likely will not be able to lift as much weight with proper form in a standard stance position. 

  • Obtain a wide stance with toes pointed out. Wide enough so that your arms can extend downwards, inside the knees.
  • Just like all the other variations, you will bend the hips back, keep the spine neutral, and brace your core. 
  • Keep your feet flat, but try to drive through heels. Keep the bar close to the body. After it passes the knees, fully extend hips and knees, squeezing glutes at the top.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing “the real deal” standard deadlift or using one of the variations in the video above, many people (especially newbies), confuse the deadlift motion with a squat.

With a squat, you have max hip bend and max knee bend.

With a deadlift, you are not squatting, you have max hip bend, but very minimal knee bend.

When doing a hip hinge, you will have a slight bend in the knee and then think about pushing your butt directly out towards a wall behind you while still keeping your spine neutral (straight) and your core braced. 

  • Stand with your mid-foot under the bar. Stance about hip-width apart.
  • Bend over, but do not squat. Grip barbell with both hands about shoulder-width.How you grip the bar is really personal preference. 
  • Bend your knees and drop until the bar almost touches your shins.
  • Lift your chest. Straighten your back. Make sure that your lower back stays neutral. DO NOT round it! 
  • Engage your lats.
  • Pull (thinking about pressing your feet down into the floor through your heels) until the barbell passes your knees, then thrust your hips forward until you are standing up straight.
  • Return the weight to start position. Do not bounce the weight. This can be dangerous to the lower back.

Mastering the deadlift is not only great for gym gains …

It will help you properly execute many day to day movements!!

Think about all the things you do in everyday life that mimic this movement. We use the extension of hips and knees all day… lifting anything substantial from the floor (kids, groceries, furniture, etc.) 

Deadlifting is also very metabolically challenging…

Because it works NUMEROUS muscles at one time, deadlifts are incredibly effective at helping you blast tons of calories while building more muscle!

Speaking of metabolism….

Did you know that it is important that you are lifting and eating in a way that is best for your personal genetics?

When you know your body typeyou can implement a plan that will give you the best results in the shortest amount of time!! 

We created a FREE BODY TYPE QUIZ that will tell you your body type and instantly give you tools to get started! 

Don’t Let Deadlifts Intimidate You
Use these exercises for a little while and you will be ready to tackle them in no time!!