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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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The name's Annie.

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Fitness, Uncategorized

June 25, 2018

Deadlift Variations – How and When to Use Them

Annie Miller of Fitdesignbyannie explains different deadlift variations and how to use them

The deadlift. It might just be one of the most underperformed lift of all big compound movements. Which is why I have a post on how to deadlift like a pro here.

The conventional deadlift

Most people just know this variation as “the deadlift.”

Feet shoulder width, bend down, grab the bar, pick it up. Right? WRONG. I mean that IS what we see most people doing in the gym, however that does not mean it is CORRECT.

See coaching video below + the bullet point set up below.

The how:

THE SET UP

  • Feet inside shoulder width
  • Bar over mid foot
  • You want to grab the floor with your whole foot.
    • Making a “C” from your heel, the outside of your foot, the ball of your foot and toes.
  • Grab bar (overhand closed grip) outside your knees
  • Use alternating grip (one over, one under) when pulling maximal loads or whenever your grip needs some extra stability
  • GRIP WIDTH DETERMINED BY YOUR KNEES DRIVING OUTWARD.
  • Tight lats
  • Brace through core + Ribcage pinned down
  • Neutral spine
  • Eyes 3-5 feet in front of you
  • Shoulder over the bar
  • Hips above knees
  • TENSION IN HAMSTRINGS
  • VERTICAL SHINS

 

THE MOVEMENT

Ascent (1st Pull) – From floor to below the knee:

  • Shoulders and hips raise at the same time
  • Neutral spine
  • Knees out + bar close to your shins
  • Tight lats + straight arms pulling the bar into your shins

 

Ascent (2nd Pull) – From the knee to the top:

  • Straighten legs
  • Pull bar to hips (using lats)
  • Pull hips to bar (using hamstrings and glutes)

 

Top Position:

  • Straight legs
  • Tight glutes (hips extended)
  • Tall, neutral spine
  • Shoulders pinned together (big chest)

 

Descent:

  • Drop of the top OR
  • Lower hips and shoulders at the same time
  • Exact reverse of the ascent
  • Vertical shins
  • Bar pulled into body
  • Neutral spine

The dumbbell deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift is a great place to start if you have never done barbell deadlift variations before. It’s a perfect way to learn the hip hinge and keeping the weight over the center of the foot (vital for many barbell movements). See my post on 5 must know tips for barbell training here. Watch the coaching video below details. 

The sumo deadlift

The sumo variation tends to be easier for people to grasp as far as form. There is less tension on the low back and it is a less aggressive hinging pattern, which can be hard for people to execute properly (let alone under load). Watch the coaching video + explanation below:

The how:

The bold points are different than conventional

You can see the only differences are in the set up position, from there, the pulling mechanics are same in principal.

THE SET UP

Disclaimer – if you don’t have bumper plates or can’t pull 135lbs (standard sized plates on each side), you need to pull off blocks or pins (elevating the bar so you can pull from mid shin/the normal height for the bar). You can choose your set up order but all these need to happen!!!

  • Feet significantly wider than shoulders
  • Toes turned out 45+ degrees
  • Bar over mid foot
  • Tight lats
  • Brace through core
  • Ribcage pinned down
  • You want to grab the floor with your whole foot.
    • Making a “C” from your heel, the outside of your foot, the ball of your foot and toes.
  • Grab bar (overhand closed grip) in line with shoulders
    • Use alternating grip (one over, one under) when pulling maximal loads or whenever your grip needs some extra stability
  • Neutral spine
  • Eyes 5-8 feet in front of you
  • TENSION IN HAMSTRINGS
  • VERTICAL SHINS + more vertical chest than conventional
  • Shoulder + hip angles determined by hip mobility and finding that tension in your hammies, get your weight behind you!

THE MOVEMENT

Ascent (1st Pull) – From floor to below the knee:

  • Shoulders and hips rise at the same time
  • Neutral spine + CHEST UP
  • Knees out + bar close to your shins
  • Tight lats + straight arms pulling the bar into your shins

 

Ascent (2nd Pull) – From the knee to the top:

  • Straighten legs
  • Pull bar to hips (using lats)
  • Pull hips to bar (using hamstrings and glutes)

 

Top Position:

  • Straight legs
  • Tight glutes (hips extended)
  • Tall, neutral spine
  • Shoulders pinned together (big chest)

 

Descent:

  • Drop at the top OR
  • Lower hips and shoulders at the same time
  • Exact reverse of the ascent
  • Vertical shins
  • Bar pulled into body
  • Neutral spine

When to use which variation

I encourage everyone to do both of these variations – conventional and sumo.  But typically people have a favorite. The conventional is more low back, hamstring, and glute dominant and the hips start further away from the bar. You also have to pull the bar for a longer distance with conventional.

With sumo, you need to have the hip mobility to get into the starting position. If you have tight adductors (inner thighs), this will be a challenge. The sumo variation uses more quad recruitment with a more vertical chest angle. But believe me, when you squeeze those glutes at the top…you’ll feel it. If you have low back issues, the sumo can be more forgiving as there is less strain on the spinal erectors.

If you’re wanting to do both variations within a week, which is totally doable and most of my clients do this, I suggest lower volume on the first day and higher volume on the second so you’re not toast for the second session.  I also encourage you to start the week with the variation that you are less fond of. This will allow you to look forward to the second training session even if your body is a little beat up from the earlier session that week.

So what’s it gonna be? Conventional or Sumo? Or my personal favorite, BOTH!?

Either way, take note and share this post with a friend if you found it helpful.

If you loved this post, and don’t want to miss out on more knowledge bombs, make sure to join my mailing list here!

 

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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