Five Best Deadlift Variations | Myprotein Masterclass

Leg day? Sorted. Deadlift your way to gains.

In this episode of Myprotein Masterclass, PTs Calvin Crooks and Kay Johnson take us through five of the best deadlift variations to train your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. So, take notes, save your bookmarks and prepare for leg day DOMS.

Remember: Form is extremely important when completing any movement with heavy weights, so pay attention to what Calvin says about form, and only lift what you’re comfortable with.

You might not want to miss your post-workout stretches after this one.

Conventional deadlift

Muscles targeted: lower back, hamstrings, glutes — squeeze at the top to really target them

  1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Take a step in to make sure your shins are close to the bar
  3. Place your hands on the bar in a neutral grip
  4. Pull the bar up, keeping your chest up high
  5. Keep a neutral spine through the movement
  6. Breathe out as you move up and squeeze your core and glutes at the top

Tip: Ensure the movement is controlled. You don’t want to wobble, as that’ll make you break form.

Sumo deadlift

Muscles targeted: hamstrings and glutes

  1. Adopt a wide stance with your feet at a 45-degree angle
  2. Place your hands at either a neutral, or a mixed grip
  3. As you pull the bar up, keep your chest up, squeeze your glutes and drive up through your heels

Romanian deadlift AKA RDL

Muscles targeted: glutes, hamstrings and lower back

  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Make sure your shins are close to the bar
  3. Use a neutral or mixed grip
  4. Keep your chest up high with a neutral spine
  5. As you pull the bar up squeeze your glutes
  6. Move the bar slowly back down, hinging your hips forward
  7. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement

Stiff leg deadlift

Muscles targeted: hamstrings

  1. Feet shoulder-width apart, with the bar close to your shins
  2. Pull the bar up as you would for a normal deadlift (link to that)
  3. As you move the bar back down, go as close as you can towards your shoelace keeping the bar as close to your body as possible.

Tip: Keep a slight bend in the knees and your legs stiff as you move the bar back down.

Single leg Romanian deadlift/unilateral deadlift

Muscles targeted: glutes

  1. Start in a standing position
  2. Hold the weight on the same side of your body that you’re hoping to target.
  3. Move the weight down as close to your shoelace as you can
  4. As you do this, bring your supporting leg up until it’s at a right angle with your other leg, so you’re leaning over and performing a deadlift on one leg.
  5. As you pull the weight back up, your leg should come back into the standing position
  6. Don’t roll back onto your heel and keep your foot fully planted in the floor

Tip: To help with your balance, squeeze your core. Or if you’d prefer, hold on to something — you can still get the range of motion and the isolation that you need.

Take home message

Spice up leg day with all these variations of the deadlift— it’s bound to be your favourite day once you swap out the split squats.

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Emily Wilcock

Emily Wilcock

Writer and expert

Emily is studying Business Management & Marketing at the University of Birmingham and is currently on her intern year. She has a keen interest in both writing and fitness, so is happy she can now combine the two. She likes to spend time with her friends, both in & out of the gym.

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