What Kind of Deadlift Is the Right Kind of Deadlift?
The question “what kind of deadlift” is one that everyone asks themselves at some point or another. You may have heard someone say something like, “I don’t do any type of deadlifts”. Or maybe they’ve even told you that they’re not a fan of them because it’s too much work and they just want to get strong enough so they can lift heavy things.
Well, let me tell you right now that those are both wrong! There is no such thing as a bad way to train your body.
If you want to be strong, then there is nothing wrong with doing a variety of exercises. However, if you really want to maximize your strength gains and avoid injury, then there are certain lifts that will allow you to achieve maximum results faster than others.
Now, I’m going to go into great detail about each variation of the deadlift.
So let’s start off with what is a traditional deadlift and how does it differ from other types of deadlifts?
A Traditional Deadlift: A traditional deadlift involves bending over while keeping your back straight and holding onto a barbell. You’ll usually use dumbbells instead of barbells for this exercise. After you bend over and grab the weight, you will then stand up and lift it as you squeeze your back to lock it in place.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: Most lifters aren’t going to need to use heavy weights in a traditional deadlift. This is mainly because most people lack the flexibility to perform a proper deadlift without rounding their backs.
Because of this, it’s important to always start with a lower weight and keep your body in an “active” position.
If you’re looking to improve your posture, strengthen your core, or build up your legs then a traditional deadlift is the right option for you. You’ll also find that it’s great for building up grip strength as well!
A Sumo Deadlift: A sumo deadlift involves using a wide stance and a less vertical back position when performing the exercise. As a result, the person performing the lift will grab the bar in a wide grip and usually with a mixed grip (one hand overhand grip and the other underhand grip).
Why You Should Do This Exercise: Most people have a tough time with back pain during a traditional deadlift. This causes them to limit how much weight they pull off of the floor.
By changing your foot position, you avoid putting as much stress on your lower back and pelvis. This means that you’ll be able to lift more weight.
However, a sumo deadlift isn’t very pragmatic if you’re mainly trying to target other areas in your body. It’s great for people with an existing lower back injury or people who just want to lift heavier weights without the risk of pain.
A Snatch Grip Deadlift: A snatch grip deadlift is another variation of the traditional deadlift. The only difference is that you’ll use a wider grip than you normally would.
This will place more emphasis on your hamstrings and glutes.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: Most people are looking to lift heavier weights for increased strength and size. If you’re one of those people then this is a great exercise for you.
By using a wide grip, you’ll be able to lift more weight than you could with your back and it will also force your body into more of a hip position rather than a torso position which allows you to use your legs more.
You’ll also notice that this exercise tends to cause less lower back pain. This is because when you use a snatch grip, you’re putting less stress on your spine and placing more stress on the muscles in the front of your legs.
That being said you can’t really perform this exercise if you have any pre-existing back pain.
A Zercher Deadlift: A zercher deadlift is similar to the traditional deadlift except for one main difference…you turn your hands inwards and place them inside the bar.
Because your arms are now inside the bar, you’ll usually hold on to extra padding to help protect your wrists and forearms from being injured.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: While the snatch grip deadlift can place more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes, a zercher grip can place more emphasis on your core and upper back. Because the bar is in front of you, your abs and obliques will have to work harder to keep you stabilized.
This is a great exercise for lifters with poor posture and allows you to lift heavier weights without pain or rounding your back excessively.
You’ll also notice that this exercise places less stress on the lower back and can be performed by people who have back injuries without aggravating them. You can’t really perform this exercise if you have severe lower back pain.
A Dumbbell Deadlift: A dumbbell deadlift is similar to the traditional deadlift except you hold a single heavy dumbbell in one hand while performing the movement.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: A lot of people experience back pain when lifting heavy weights off of the floor. By using a single dumbbell, you can eliminate a lot of stress from your spine and place more stress on your hips and legs which allows you to lift heavier weights while still placing an emphasis on strength and size.
Many powerlifters use this exercise to build their deadlift while sticking to a lower weight in order to stay safe.
You can’t really perform this exercise if you have severe lower back pain or any upper body weakness. You won’t be able to lift as much weight as you would with a barbell so you’ll need to make up for that with more weight on the bar.
A Trap Bar Deadlift: A trap bar deadlift is similar to the traditional deadlift except all of the weight is focused towards the middle of the bar. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about holding on to the sides of a normal bar.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: Most people experience lower back pain when deadlifting because they aren’t able to hold on to the bar properly. If you lift with a normal bar, your hands will start to hurt and if it gets bad enough, you won’t be able to grip the bar at all which will make the exercise more dangerous and less effective.
By using a trap bar, you don’t have to worry about this since you’re literally holding on to a thick piece of metal rather than having to grip the sides.
The trap bar deadlift also allows you to lift in a more natural movement pattern. With a traditional deadlift, you have to bend over and pick the weight up which puts a lot of stress on your lower back.
With the trap bar, you have to squat down and then stand up which is a lot less stressful on your back.
You can’t really perform this exercise if you’re recovering from lower back surgery or have severe lower back pain. The trap bar deadlift is still a deadlift so even though it places less stress on your back, it can still cause pain if you have an underlying injury.
Likewise, you shouldn’t perform this exercise if your doctor has specifically told you to not lift heavy weights off the floor due to lower back problems.
A Barbell Row: A barbell row is a rowing motion using a barbell instead of a pair of dumbbells. It’s an excellent mass building and strength exercise for your upper body.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: Barbell rows are one of the best mass building exercises for your back. Over time, you’ll not only build thickness in your back but also add strength and size to your entire upper body.
The rowing motion is also an excellent exercise for strengthening your core since you have to brace yourself while performing the exercise.
You can’t really perform this exercise if you have any wrist pain or injury. Using a barbell for this exercise can put a lot of stress on your wrists so you need to make sure that they’re in good shape before performing this exercise.
A Dumbbell Zottman Curl: A zottman curl is performed the same way as a traditional curl except you hold one dumbbell and alternate arms each rep. This puts less stress on your wrists compared to a barbell curl.
Why You Should Do This Exercise: A zottman curl is a great mass building exercise for your biceps and forearms. They’re also great for people who have wrist pain when doing a barbell curl.
You can’t really perform this exercise if you have severe pain or numbness in your wrists when performing other types of curls. Zottman curls are meant to be an exercise that people can do when they have wrist problems and if you already have wrist pain then you might just make it worse by performing this movement.
This is just a sample of the exercises you can do. As long as you pick an exercise that works each muscle group properly and isn’t dangerous for you to perform, then you’re fine.
What Are Some Common Fables And Errors When It Comes To Exercising?
This chapter is going to go over some of the most common fables and myths when it comes to exercise. A lot of these might sound true but a lot of them are just old wive’s tales that have been repeated so many times that everyone just accepts them as fact without ever questioning them. I’ll also point out some common mistakes that people make so you can avoid them.
You’ll Get Toned If You Tone Up
This is one of the biggest myths and misnomers in the fitness world. For some reason, people think that toning means adding muscle underneath the skin but that’s actually called getting “cut.”
If you do enough weight training to improve your muscle size and density, you’re going to gain some size. There is no magical way to gain muscle and not look any bigger.
Muscle just looks smaller when it’s surrounded by a layer of fat.
This mistaken belief probably comes from advertisers who want to sell things. They know that most people want a shortcut so they use wording such as “toned and tight” muscles rather than “big and buff.” It sells products and most people are too lazy or gullible to double check.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Most women who go to a gym or exercise at home usually want to lose fat and gain muscle.
If they only did the former, they’d end up skinny but weak. If they only did the latter, they’d look more muscular but wouldn’t look any different in terms of size.
It takes a combination of both to both lose fat and gain muscle in order to see a change in your size. There’s no way around this.
If You’re Skinny and Want to Get Buff, You Need to “Cut Down to Build Up”
A lot of skinny guys think that in order to get bigger, they need to “cut down” first by lowering their calorie intake and doing a lot of cardio.
I’m referring to this as the “starvation diet” method since most people severely restrict their calories and do cardio until they’re tired all the time. The problem with this is that it’s miserable and it takes a long time.
Now I’m not saying that you won’t gain muscle because you certainly will. The problem is it’ll be very slow and take a very long time because you’re severely restricting your calories.
You might even lose muscle due to the fact that your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to keep from breaking down muscle tissue.
The smarter method is to not drastically change your diet and just workout properly. If you’re skinny, you probably don’t need to be eating less than 2000 calories a day and if you want to gain muscle, you shouldn’t be eating any less than that.
Here’s What You Should Do Instead
The best thing that you can do is eat a bit more than you normally do and make sure that you’re eating enough protein in your diet. You should also be eating a bit more calories than you burn through exercise because your body uses some of that as energy.
So, if you’re exercising a lot and working your butt off in the gym, you shouldn’t be worried about eating too much. This isn’t a problem for most guys since they often eat a lot anyway.
Just make sure that you’re not overeating so much that you’re gaining a lot of fat.
Sources & references used in this article:
Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift by M Girvan – Viitattu, 2012 – elitefts.com
Deadlift bar apparatus and method by R Acuna Jr – US Patent 10,188,899, 2019 – Google Patents
Deadlift training for patients with mechanical low back pain: a comparison of the effects of a high-load lifting exercise and individualized low-load motor control … by L Berglund – 2016 – diva-portal.org
Technique of deadlift. Powerlifting monthly training plan (Sheiko BI) Sheiko boris ivanovich deadlift by BI Sheiko – 2006 – mayfairclub.ru
Weight-Mate: Wearable System for Perfecting the Conventional Deadlift by F Sørensen, TG Jensen – projekter.aau.dk
Biomechanical Analysis of the Deadlift by R Home – rxmuscle.com
Reliability of the Load-Velocity Relationship and Validity of the PUSH to Measure Velocity in the Deadlift by C Chéry, L Ruf – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2019 – journals.lww.com
Deadlift bar apparatus and method by R Acuna Jr – US Patent App. 16/259,320, 2019 – Google Patents