The deadlift has a number of variations that can be used to mix up your training and place a greater emphasis on particular muscle groups. Deadlift variations can be a useful addition to your training when looking to change up your routine or take a small break from the traditional deadlift. Here is a list of some of the most popular deadlift variations:
Deadlift Variations – Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift is performed with a special bar called the trap bar (bet you couldn’t have guessed that). You will need to stand inside the trap bar and grip it by your sides. The trap bar probably wont allow you to use a wide stance so take up a narrow or shoulder width stance. Deadlift the bar up and return it back down to the floor like you would on a traditional deadlift. The trap bar deadlift should allow you to use more weight than a normal deadlift so if you feel strong be sure to crank up the weight.
The major difference with the trap bar deadlift and a normal deadlift is that the quads come into play a lot more during the trap bar deadlift. Reason being is that the weight is not in front of the body. Its more to the side mimicking more of a squat movement. Since quads come into play more, you should be able to lift more weight. This does not apply to everyone however.
Romanian Deadlift/Stiff Leg Deadlift
The romanian deadlift or stiff leg deadlift is a great variation of the regular deadlift to really blast your hamstrings and lower back. Check out our guide on the stiff leg deadlift for more information on how to perform these.
Straight Leg Deadlift
The straight leg deadlift is very similar to the romanian/stiff leg deadlift. The only difference is hip position when lowering the bar. The romanian/stiff leg deadlift requires you to push your hips all the way back. Straight leg deadlifts on the other hand should not be performed by pushing your hips so far back.
Your thighs should be more perpendicular to the floor. Legs should still have a slight bend in them. Due to the hips staying more central in relation to your feet the bar is often lowered slightly further away from the body during the straight leg deadlift.
Another great variation of the deadlift is the sumo deadlift. Sumo deadlifts are performed with a wide stance and narrow grip. The stance should be as wide as is possibly comfortable with toes pointed out. Either use an overhand grip or a mixed grip (one hand over the bar one hand under the bar). Due to the wide stance the bar does not need to be touching your shins before lifting but again, keep the bar reasonably close to the body.
The wide stance should force you to sit back more during the lift than a traditional deadlift would. Sumo deadlifts will really hit your inner thighs, hips and glute muscles so if its your first time performing these, prepare to be sore the next day!
Rack pulls are a partial deadlift and take a lot of the work out of the leg muscles to help you really blast your back. If used correctly in your routine rack pulls can be one of the most effective back builders you use in your routine alongside the barbell row. Check out rack deadlifts for more information on this exercise.
Single Leg Deadlift
Single leg deadlifts are great for switching up your routine. Single leg deadlifts can help fix strength imbalances in the legs and improve your balance. Check out our article on single leg deadlifts for more information.
Dumbbell deadlifts are performed the same way as a traditional deadlift but with dumbbells in front of you or by your side. See our article on dumbbell deadlifts for more information.
Chains and Band Deadlifts
Chains and bands can also be used to add variation to the deadlift as well as resistance. Bands can be draped round the bar and stood on to make the exercise harder or you can drape chains to either side of the bar to add extra resistance to the lift.