Types Of Deadlifts

The one. The only. The king of compound exercises:

The squat deadlift.

It’s well-known that deadlifts are brilliant for building muscle mass as well as working your lower back, hip flexors and hamstrings – which can be difficult areas to target using free weights.

And although our hearts lie with the squat – sorry deadlift – the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to this super-efficient, muscle-making move.

Why deadlift?

Do you want to get stronger? Then you need to deadlift. And it’s not just about strengthening your butt either. Deadlifts work so many major muscle groups all at the same time, and because you are engaging so many areas at once, you can lift a solid amount of weight to really tear up those muscle fibres.

Any noobs to the weightlifting table might have also recently discovered just how important grip strength is too. Your muscles might be able to take the weight you’re lifting, but if your hands and wrists can’t take the strain, then you won’t be able to reach those all-important fail points that will get you to the next level.

Deadlifts are also extremely intense. Not only will they help you get stronger, but they will also tax your cardiovascular system – big time. They’ve got real life application (think about lifting those heavy shopping bags, children or even your latest Mirafit order). And best of all, they are the ultimate test in strength as you get to see just how much your body can take.

How to deadlift


If moving you away from the squat rack is a bit like tearing a kid away from the Disneyland gift shop, deadlifts should definitely be on your workout agenda. You clearly love to load up your lower half and deadlifts will help you target those pivotal points.

It can even help you to develop a deeper squat – and that in turn will strengthen your deadlift. Winning.

Never done a deadlift? Although everyone has to start somewhere, we wouldn’t recommend you head straight into a deadlift workout without building up some lower back and body strength first. Especially if you have been focusing on isolation exercises.

Each muscle group needs to be able to handle the amount of weight you’re lifting. So if you have weak spots, deadlifts will soon point these out to you – without mercy.

Remember when we wrote about how to squat?

It’s the same with deadlifts – practise your technique first, then start to build strength and add on weight. After all, if you were teaching someone how to walk a tightrope, you wouldn’t load them up with a big pile of weights first.

You can start with either no weight or a broom handle as a bar, then move up to a light bar and get an experienced person to watch you so they can critique you as you go. Preferably someone you know and not just some random at the gym.


The key things to remember for a conventional deadlift are:

• Keep your back straight – not arched

• Your neck relaxed/spine straight

• Bend at the knees

• Pivot at the hips

• As you progress, use a mixed grip (one overhand, one underhand) rather than a double overhand, to stop the bar from rolling out of your hands. You might even want to use straps for support.

And like all strengthening, once you have been deadlifting for a while, you’ll notice you’ve reached a bit of a sticking point. That’s where the deadlift variations come in – alternating how you deadlift is about shifting your focus, so you gradually strengthen each area until you can take your conventional deadlift up to the next level.

So, what are the variations?

Partial deadlift

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to take it up a notch, doing a partial deadlift is a great intermediary exercise between one level and the next.

Using the squat rack, rest the barbell on the safety bars at the desired height so your starting point is raised up away from the floor. This makes the initial lift a little easier as you are able to engage more muscles from the start.

It also puts less pressure on your joints as you lift.

Romanian Deadlift

Also known as the straight-legged deadlift, this one is a classic and the one you’ll see most people doing down at the gym alongside the conventional deadlift.

It is great for lower back work and targeting your hamstrings but equally, this means you should be cautious when lifting to avoid any strains.

Keep your knees soft – not locked – and pivot at the hips, thrusting forward and squeezing your glutes as you straighten your back.

Sumo deadlift


Love sumo squats? Then you’ll love sumo deadlifts – it’s basically the same thing but instead of a kettlebell, you’re using a barbell.

This one places more emphasis on your quads and hips, and is easier on your hamstrings – start off with a low weight and you’ll quickly see your progression as a wide stance will ultimately allow you to lift a heavier weight load.

Trap bar deadlift

As you might have guessed, this one involves using a trap or hex bar instead of a barbell to do your deadlift. This changes where the weight load sits i.e. either side of your body rather than in front, so it’s more evenly distributed allowing the front half of your body to help the back.

Deficit deadlift

Ideal for more experienced deadlifters, deficit deadlifts extend the range of motion you experience when doing this exercise. To perform it, you will need to raise yourself off the ground.

You can do this by either using a stepper or a couple of weight plates – it will need to be sturdy. If a stepper is too high, you can raise your barbell slightly by using the safety bars on a squat rack, but still leave a deficit.

Snatch grip deadlift

This is like a conventional deadlift where you bend your knees but with a much wider grip, so your hands are at the outer ends of the barbell. This is the classic lift done at Olympic and Strong Man competitions.

The hack lift This is a trickier one to perform but great for targeting your quads. Start in a deep squat position with the barbell on the floor just underneath your butt.

Back straight, double overhand grip the bar and stand. Deadlifting in this way can put pressure on your knees, so if this is an injury-prone area for you, be careful or avoid this one altogether.

Which deadlift is best?


When it comes to strengthening, there’s never one route to take. It’s always about mixing it up and keeping your body guessing. Whether it’s the type of exercises you’re doing or the amount of sets and reps you’re doing.

Deadlifting can put a lot of strain on your joints. So only move up to the next weight when you feel ready – and remember that all-important technique every single time you deadlift.

Start off with low weights. Even if you can lift a certain weight on one type of deadlift, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do lift the same weight load with a different stance. There’s no point putting yourself at risk of injury – take the time to do it properly.

So, in short: keep it varied, keep working hard, target weak points and it won’t be long before you see the results you’ve been looking for.

Happy training!