Different Types of Deadlift: Never Plateau Again

By Ire | Exercises

Jul 27

In this article, I will describe different types of deadlift, so you can choose which one you should be doing based on your body type. What is more, I will go over why it is important to implement deadlift into your workout and how will it help you as a hardgainer.

The “BIG 3”:

Big 3 refers to Squat, Deadlift and Bench press. These three exercises are known to be GOAT among exercises.I will not tell you that you cannot get big without performing any of the “Big 3. Bottom line is that any stress you put on your body will be an exercise. So, if you dislike doing any of those three, it is all good. You really don’t have to! BUT YOU SHOULD.

For the others, that would like to get stronger and bigger in the most effective way, this article is for you.

I support “Big 3” because they are multi-functional movement. That means that more than just one joint is bending while performing an exercise. Body needs to recruit more muscles to do that. More muscle engaged, more gains we can expect.

Muscular guy with headphones

WHY DEADLIFT IS IMPORTANT

Exposes our weaknesses

Since deadlift is a full body exercise, there are many things that can go wrong. Feeling any pain while performing a deadlift means that we have a problem and we must address that. It can be due to muscular imbalances, structural imbalances or technical problems.

Real life application

Deadlift is an exercise that we can apply to real life settings. Not many days gets by when we aren’t gripping something or picking something off the floor. So, make sure to get your deadlifts in and then brag to your family how you can bring in all grocery bags in one trip.

Builds massive forearms. Females dig that. You know it is true.

Big muscular upper back male looking into distance


WHICH TYPE OF DEADLIFT SHOULD I CHOOSE?

There really isn’t any better type or worse type. It really depends on your mobility, body type and the muscles you want to target. All these points will be addressed under each different type of deadlift.


HOW WILL IT HELP ME NOT TO BE A HARDGAINER ANYMORE?

Effectiveness

More muscles working simultaneously makes the exercise more effective. That means that it is great at getting us where we want to be (strong, big and beautiful). Only performing deadlift, will activate enough muscles to make it a whole workout. We don’t have to worry about sweating all over fancy machines that would target every muscle individually. It also means that it is less time consuming. So, more effective the exercise, the faster we are going to achieve our goals.

Injury Prevention

Deadlift strengthens your muscles, which will later help you with injury prevention. Just the ability of being able to lift a heavy barbell off the floor is a good indicator we are healthy and that we are less likely to get injured in the future.

Builds Muscles

Great for huge traps, back, glutes, hamstring and forearms. Deadlifts alone gives us the looks of a guy that nobody really wants to mess with. Looking at you from the back will get guys think twice before talking to your girl.

Muscular person making his lifting belt tighter

WHY YOU NEED DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEADLIFT

Injury

Changing the angles of our body changes an amount of stress we put on certain body parts. By varying the deadlifting stance, grip or bar we can change those angles. If our injury allows us to still perform other types of deadlift, then we should absolutely do that. Only thing we need to keep in mind is; different types of deadlifts also change the muscles that are dominant during the lift. Make sure to identify those muscles from the list below and work towards balancing muscle imbalances with different exercises.

Besides that, if you have an injury, it is recommended to work around the injury. However, do not ignore the injury! Go see your local physical therapist and work towards getting it fixed. Any pain in our body is only going to limit us from getting stronger and more muscular.

You Plateaued (stopped progressing)

If you are a complete newbie and just realize the importance of deadlift, the most important thing is that you master the technique. Pick any from the list and come back to this article when your progress is starting to slow down. When you have never done a deadlift before, there is no possibility for you not to progress; however, it is extremely important for you to execute a lift with proper form to avoid injury.

If you are more advanced lifter, I want you to memorize something I learned from Dan John. He said that everything works for a period. Does not matter what you choose, it will work. When you find yourself starting to plateau (not progressing), it is a good indication that you should change something. Maybe that change should be a type of the deadlift you do.

1. SUMO DEADLIFT

This one makes us get into a wider stance with our hands inside our knees. Due to the wide stance, it shortens the ROM (Range of Motion) which allows us to go heavier. Sumo Deadlift also forces you to maintain good posture during the lift, which is great if you experience lower back pain.

Body type:
Tall, longer torso, short arms, limited hip flexion
Muscles emphasized:
It usually puts more emphasis on quads and hips.

Female athlete performing sumo deadlift

2. HEX BAR

For this one, we need more specific bar in which we stand inside the bar. It is sometimes found to be less complex movement, which makes it easier to perform it correctly. That could be good for somebody who is a beginner, or somebody experiencing pain with conventional deadlift.

Body Type:
Any
Muscles Emphasized:
Quadriceps

Male demonstrating sumo deadlift stance

3. SNATCH GRIP DEADLIFT

For that one, grab a barbell way wider. As wide as if you are going to snatch (if you have ever done it before). I would say, if you are above 6’3 (190cm), use the entire length of the bar. This is also a fantastic way to strengthen your snatch.

Body Type: Any
Muscles Emphasized: Hamstring, Glutes

Snatch grip deadlift demonstrated. Different types of deadlift

4. ROMANIAN DEALIFT

In this one, we want to keep our legs straight. Bending should come from the torso. Romanian Deadlift is also a great type of deadlift, if we are experiencing knee pain.

Body Type:
Shorter torso
Muscles Emphasized:
Hamstring, Glutes

Female demonstrating stiff legged deadlift

5. CONVENTIONAL DEADLIFT

Obviously from its name, it is the most basic deadlift variation. It requires a strong lower back. If we do not have it, we will not be able to keep our back in lordosis (Donald Duck Posture) which is why many people will experience lower back pain.

Body Type:
Shorter torso, long arms, good hip flexion
Muscles Emphasized:
Lower back

Female demonstrating conventional deadlift

PROGRESSIONS:

Besides changing the whole deadlift, we can just choose different modalities to the deadlift we are already performing in order to change the intensity.

Deficit/Blocks

We can play around with the height of the bar. We can make the lift more difficult if we pull it while standing on something. For shorter individuals, deficit deadlift will be a great way to get some extra distance in your lift.

On the other hand, we can make it easier by pulling it from the rack or from a pair of blocks on each side. This can be useful if you are taller or have difficulty lowering down into deadlift set up. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep track of the height, so you can track your progress.

Chain/Bands

Personally, I am not a huge fan of chains or bands. I just feel like it makes it hard for keeping track of progress. I believe that if you are not already an advanced lifter, there is no need for you to use those. However, if you deadlift 2.5x your bodyweight, those could be a great variation for you. This way you can really train your weak part of the deadlift. For example: If you are having a problem with lock-outs, then chains could help you with that, since it forces you to lift heavier on the lock out (the higher you go, the more weight is on the bar).

Paused

Paused Deadlift is great for increasing time under tension. Because it is slower movement it can also serve as a great training tool for learning the deadlift. It forces us to maintain better bar path through emphasizing on activating upper back muscles.

Female athlete staring herself in the mirror

TECHNIQUE

I will not discuss this in depth. If you want to learn more about how to correctly preform a deadlift, make sure to check my other posts. I will only mention the most crucial thing that all deadlifts have in common

Arched Back

It is something many fail to do, which many times leads to back pain. This gives deadlift a bad rep. Remember, deadlift is not bad for your back, however whatever that thing you are doing is called, that is what is causing your back pain. That thing is not deadlift.

Anyhow, we all know that we should maintain a nice arched back during the deadlift. This can be due to several reason, but there are three main ones.
-not being able to activate lower back muscles into an arch (common with tall lanky dudes)
-weak lower back
-weak abdominals

I would recommend doing some abs and lower back activation exercises in your warm up before deadlifting. If the problem remains, we should maybe choose sumo deadlift or hex bar, where our torso can remain more upright.

Male athlete doing conventional deadlifting while his friends are cheering him on

Breathing

Google “diaphragmatic breathing” and practice it. Doing it on a floor first and then advancing to sitting down, standing up and finally, practicing diaphragmatic breathing while lifting weights. Keeping the air in lower abdominals, rather than our chest will prevent our body to twist in weird ways while deadlifting. We will no longer need to lift with a belt since we have just added our own belt.

Footwear

To be more stable during a lift, we want to have a firm base. Best option is to purchase lifting shoes with hard heel. If you cannot afford that, you can even do it barefoot. You should never deadlift with running shoes that have soft heel. If you want to look cool, purchase a pair of Converse. I have never tried it myself, but some people swear by them since Converse have a hard bottom.

Somebody standing in front of a barbell with lifting shoes on

CONCLUSION:

There you go. Deadlifting in a nutshell. Remember that everything works; however, ONLY for a period. That is why it is important to change the movements every so often. Just like Pavel Tsatsouline said (one of the biggest names in the strength industry): “Same, but different”. We are continuing to deadlift; however, we just change our approach to keep progressing.

Now that you know all most common types of deadlift, go ahead and pick one you do not usually do. This will keep our strength gains coming and help us to put on well-deserved muscle mass.

About the Author

Hey, my name is Ire.I am a Personal Trainer/ Strength Coach based in Stockholm, Sweden.When you don't find me in the gym, I will most likely be on a Track and Field stadium throwing around a discus.

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