The deadlift is a great exercise to really work the entire back of your body—including your hamstrings, butt, and back. And there are tons of deadlift variations, which makes it easy to choose the right version that works for you.
Deadlifts are an example of a compound exercise, which means they use multiple groups at once. As a result, your workout becomes more efficient, since you’re working many muscles with just one exercise. Compare that to an isolation exercise like a bicep curl, where you’re really just focusing on the smaller muscles in your upper arm.
Because of this, deadlifts are considered a really important move for gaining strength, Lauren Williams, trainer at Project by Equinox, tells SELF. “Your glutes, quads, and hamstrings are involved, but so are your back and traps, and even your shoulders and triceps. It’s very close to a total-body strength move, so you’re really challenging your strength through the whole posterior chain,” she explains.
Deadlifts also give you a great core workout. “When you’re pulling something from the ground, you have to create that tension in your core to be able to do it and also to protect your back,” Williams says. Over time, deadlifts can help improve stability and core strength—no crunching or planking required. Some variations, like the single-leg or offset load deadlift, also require your core to resist rotating, which provides an additional core challenge.
Since there are so many variations of deadlifts out there, there are probably a few that work best for your body and your goals. Unless you’re a powerlifter in a deadlifting competition, there’s no “right” way to deadlift—choose the variation that works for you. Some people love to pull from the floor with a conventional barbell deadlift, while others prefer the balance challenge that comes with a single-leg variation. Others prefer to incorporate several of the different deadlift variations in their fitness program during different workouts since each provides a different challenge.
Here are 10 different deadlift variations—give some of them a try, and see which ones feel best for you.
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