Guest post by Paul Vandyken, founder of RigorFitness.com
There are many different types of deadlifts and I will be going over just a few of them. The purpose of this post is to share with you what I have learned and which type of deadlifts is suitable for me and it might be suitable for you too. So, let’s get started.
Weight training is strength training with a twist. In strength training, you use resistance to make your muscles contract. This causes your body to improve in strength, size of skeletal muscles, and endurance.
In weight training, instead of working your core muscles with basic exercises, you work them with the added pressure of weights. The weights add force against gravity and helps build muscles to handle the pressure. It is a great way to tone and strengthen your body.
Deadlifting is one of the oldest types of weight training. It is an incredible workout for your whole body, though it might not seem like it works anything besides your arms and legs. That’s not the case. It works everything.
Don’t let the name intimidate you, either- anyone can learn how to deadlift. Being able to deadlift isn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to do at 5’2” and 100 something pounds. It’s a pretty awesome idea though, especially since you look so bad while doing it. (http://www.leehayward.com/deadlifts.htm)
While deadlifting, a barbell loaded with weights is lifted off of the ground to the hips, and then lowered again. This ‘dead’ weight lacks momentum, causing it to be more difficult to pick up and fight against gravity. It wouldn’t be deadlifting without this concept.
When it comes to this type of weight training, easing into it is much more effective than not. It has different levels of learning curves, but most of the time you will not be doing anything you are not comfortable with. The basic deadlifting technique is good enough for a start.
Aforementioned, there are many different types of deadlifts and I will be going over just a few of them. Afterwards, you can use this guide to decide which type of deadlift is best for you: (https://www.t-nation.com/training/deadlifts-which-type-is-best-for-you) there’s something out there for everyone.
1. Conventional Deadlift
The conventional deadlift is classic and one of the most popular types of deadlifting. You start out by standing in front of the barbell, shins close and feet shoulder width apart or less. With your hands outside the bar, grab hold in position a bit wider than your shoulders.
At this point, your arms should be straight, legs bent, and back flattened. Then you squat down with the barbell arms-length away from you before lifting it off the floor and straightening your legs and torso. You will then want to pull your shoulders back and lower the barbell back down onto the floor.
This deadlift is the standard for strongmen competitions and the like. Some of the other types aren’t allowed because they make deadlifting easier. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth a shot, though.
There are different ways to hold the bar while doing this exercise. Standardly, your knuckles of both hands should be facing outward. With the other, you alternate your hands, holding your hands facing opposite directions. These both work for all types of deadlifts.
This type of deadlift helps work the posterior muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and even spinal muscles. It works other muscles as well but the main benefits tend to end up being to the backside area.
Just make sure to let the bar touch the ground completely. If not, you won’t be getting all the benefits of deadlifting. It may seem like no big deal, but without the ‘dead’ part of the deadlifting, you’re really just doing squats.
2. Sumo Deadlift
This variation of the conventional deadlift is only slightly different even though it completely changes what parts of the body are being worked the most. With this stance, you stand with your legs wide apart and keep your focus on them, as if you are trying to spread the floor apart with your feet. Bringing your hips forward will help gain more leverage and let you lift more weight. Your legs and hips are the main focus here, instead of your back. This deadlift works the quadriceps and tibialis interior’s strength in contrast to the conventional. It also doesn’t require you to lift the bar as high as the conventional type does.
This type is also not allowed in competitions, being stated as cheating. That doesn’t make it any less effective for your weekly workout, however. It may be easier but there’s nothing wrong with that. Mixing it up every once in a while to work different muscles is great, but don’t avoid some because they seem too easy or hard.
Some people find the sumo type easier to lift than the conventional deadlift once they get the hang of the somewhat awkward stance. I’ve included a video of the difference between sumo and conventional deadlifting so you can get an idea of the two techniques.
3. Romanian Deadlift (Stiff Leg)
Your hamstrings and lower back get some extra attention with this type of deadlift. Starting out with a conventional deadlift is the first step to this straightened leg type of exercise. All you need to do then is bending at the waist and stretch your hamstrings well. Straighten and repeat. You do not want to let the bar touch the ground since the constant tension is good for muscle buildup. Also, you want to have a slight bend in your knees to keep your tendons from overstressing.
The Romanian deadlift is better suited for higher reps, unlike other types of deadlifts. Not placing the bar back on the floor makes it easier to do reps and avoid lifting the dead weigh
There are some things to look out for while doing this exercise. (http://www.stack.com/a/3-ways-youre-messing-up-your-romanian-deadlifts) The main thing you want to remember is your basic deadlifting technique. It can be easy to forget when doing something a little different.
4. Trap Bar Deadlift
This technique is good if you do not have the mobility for other deadlifting types. It takes all of the stress off the lower back and transfers it to the legs. It is also a hybrid between squats and conventional deadlifting, so you get the benefits of both. This technique is great for recovering injuries or back pain. (https://www.t-nation.com/training/trap-bar-deadlift)
However, it can put a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine. It has a small learning curve, though, so perfecting the technique is not too difficult for a novice.
The equipment for this type of deadlift is different than the traditional barbell with weights. Its name is fitting, as it ‘traps’ you with its bars. Here is a picture to show you what it looks like and what each sections purpose is.
They can be intimidating if you are seeing or using them for the first time. They are usually collecting dust in the corner somewhere because of said intimidation.
It is really easy to use, however. You just need to step inside, situating right in the middle, and grip tightly, squatting down with an arched back to reach it. Make sure your middle finger matches up with your shins and rotate the inside of your elbows forward to ensure any slack is accounted for. Next, drive your feet into the ground while lifting and move your hips forward. Bracing your glutes and abdominals, prepare for the top of the movement, and finish.
Here is a quick video of the technique while doing a shrugging motion.
5. Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
It sounds like this technique would be similar to the sumo deadlift, but that is not quite the case. This deadlift is actually more like the trap bar type. With a weighted, cast iron kettlebell instead of a trap bar or barbell, it is often used by more advanced lifters when they want to do some higher reps.
It is also a really good way to introduce you to deadlifting, being easy on the back and sometimes easier without a bar. Gradually working up to more advanced lifting may or may not be your goal, but it is always a possibility.
Here’s a link ‘for dummies’ with an instructional video about how to do a kettlebell deadlift. (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/paleo-workouts-how-to-do-a-kettlebell-deadlift.html)
Deadlifting has benefits to your grip strength, gluteus Maximus, core musculature, adductor Magnus, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, and more. It activates a great number of muscles in your body for better performance. You will begin to feel stronger and your muscles will appreciate your tough love in only a few weeks.
I hope you enjoyed my little list of deadlifting techniques. I had a great time writing it and learning with you. I might even try it out myself if or when I ever start working out. It sounds like something I could really benefit from. It’ll probably do the same for you if you feel so inclined to try it out.
Remember that deadlifting safely and properly is most important. You don’t want to hurt yourself trying to better yourself. That would be a little counterproductive don’t you think?
While we’re on the topic of safety, knee sleeves are great for support while deadlifting. There are many more ways to be safe while deadlifting are to make sure that proper stance and technique are being used. The correct shoes and other active wear are important as well. You don’t want to deadlift in your running shoes. That’s not what they’re made for.
Finally, there are still many different types of deadlifts that I might haven’t even known. So, tell me what you think in the comments and let me know your favorite way to deadlift! I will be appreciated to hear from you.