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5 Types Of Deadlifts For Different Body Types

June 01, 2021

Infographic showing which muscles the deadlift works

Deadlifts are the king of all exercises. 

They work a huge variety of muscles:

Muscles that deadlifts work

 

1. Standard Deadlift

 

 

Ideal For: Shorter lifters

Have you ever noticed how lifters under 5’7″ always bag first place at deadlift powerlifting competitions? The shorter a person is, the easier it is for them to do a regular deadlift.

Athletes with short legs will find it much easier to squat down and grab the bar than a tall person would. Also, taller lifters tend to arch their back while performing a deadlift. Some beginners might even end up with a back injury if they’re not careful.

On top of that, people with short legs have a shorter range of motion. This will allow you to lift heavier weights without exerting too much effort.

How to:

  • Stand in front of a loaded barbell with the feet shoulder-width apart from each other, hands at the sides, back straight, and eyes locked forward.
  • Squat down until the knees hit a 90-degree angle, grab the bar tightly, and keep the back straight. Feel free to use an underhand, overhand, or mixed grip. 
  • While keeping the back straight and eyes locked forward, lift the barbell by driving the heels through the ground and straightening the legs.
  • At the top, tilt the body back a bit, hold, and then slowly lower the weight back down. 

 

2. Sumo Deadlift

 

 

Ideal For: Lifters with long arms and short legs

The sumo deadlift is one of the most popular types of deadlifts bodybuilding and powerlifting athletes do to train their glutes and hamstrings. What makes it different from regular deadlifts is its wide stance.

By assuming a wider foot stance, most of the weight shifts from the quads to the inner thighs and glutes. This makes it an excellent move for lifters who want to focus on these areas.

On top of that, since sumo deadlifts have a shorter range of motion than regular deadlifts, athletes will be able to lift a heavier load than they usually do.

While everyone can do sumo deadlifts, those who benefit the most from these types of deadlifts are gym-goers with long arms and short legs. This leg-to-arm ratio will allow one to go deeper without arching the back too much.

On the other hand, lifters with short arms might find it hard to execute this move.

How to:

  • Stand upright in front of a loaded barbell with the feet wider than shoulder-width apart from each other, arms hanging down the center of the body, back straight, and toes pointed outward.
  • Next, squat down by bending the knees and then grab the bar with any type of grip. leg-to-arm
  • While keeping the back straight and eyes locked forward, slowly lift the barbell by straightening the legs and driving the heels through the floor.
  • At the top, pause for one count and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  • Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

3. Hex Bar Deadlifts

 

HEX DEADLIFT

Ideal For: Tall lifters

Taller athletes, those over 6’2″, usually complain about lower back pain when doing deadlifts. Their long body puts too much stress on their pelvis when they stoop down to lift the bar off the ground.

While tall people can still do regular deadlifts, it’s better to use a hex bar. 

The handles mean that when you squat down to grab the bar, you won’t have to arch your back and place unnecessary stress on your pelvis.

 

How to:

  • Stand in the middle of a loaded hex bar, keep the back straight, lock the eyes forward, place the feet shoulder-width apart, and let the arms hang at the sides.
  • Squat down by bending the knees but keep the back straight. Then, grab the bars at the sides with a neutral grip, palms facing the body. 
  • From there, lift the weight up by straightening the legs and driving the heels through the ground.
  • Pause at the top and then slowly lower the weight back down.

 

4. Rack Pulls

 

RACK PULLS

Ideal For: Lifters with long legs and short arms

Athletes with long legs know how awkward it is to squat down to the correct deadlifting position. Either the knees flare out, or the back arches forward. Either way, it’s terrible for both the legs and the back.

Luckily, you can quickly resolve this placing the loaded barbell on a power rack. Setting the barbell higher makes it easier for long-legged lifters to grab the bar and position the body.

This is also an alternative for tall powerlifters who don’t have access to a hex bar yet.

How to:

  • Place the barbell on the power rack and position the bar just under the knee.
  • Squat down with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle, back straight, feet shoulder-width apart, and hands grabbing the bar with any type of grip. 
  • While keeping the back straight and eyes locked forward, lift the barbell by driving the heels through the ground and straightening the legs.
  • At the top, tilt the body back a bit, hold, and then slowly lower the weight back down. 

 

5. Romanian Deadlifts

 

Ideal For: Lifters with underdeveloped glutes and hamstrings

Barbell squats are great, but leg day goes beyond training the quads. For true lower body strength and size, lifters also need to work on their glutes and hamstrings.

Athletes need these muscles so they can sprint faster, jump higher, and move more swiftly. Meanwhile, bodybuilders can use Romanian deadlifts to build a more proportioned, balanced lower body.

How to:

  • Stand in front of a barbell with arms at the sides, feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, and eyes locked forward.
  • Next, grab the bar with an overhand grip, hand on the top of the bar, and lift it off the floor. The weight should hang just below the waist. 
  • Then, slowly drive the hips backward as if one were trying to touch the wall with their butt. While doing so, keep the back straight and lock the eyes forward.
  • Pause and then pull the hips back to the starting position. By

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