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10 Essential Deadlift Variations

Have you ever heard deadlifting was bad for your back?  Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight?

If you answered yes to any of these, you’re definitely not alone! These are the types of things we hear from our clients every day – yet many of them are either out of context or flat out incorrect. Many people believe that deadlifts are bad for their backs, but it’s likely the way deadlifts are being done that is the true cause of back pain. Check out a previous post we did on how to deadlift your way out of lower back pain

The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can’t stand. It’s an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you’ll see through the variations listed below). Whether you’re chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some fashion.

If you’re newer to the gym or this movement, don’t be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it’s a movement you’ve never done, or you’re an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it’s a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process. If you can perform these variations of deadlifting correctly, there’s a much better chance you won’t get hurt trying to lift up something heavy in real life!

As you’ll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there’s so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good.

Kettlebell Deadlift Isometric

This KB deadlift isometric addresses the bottom position of the movement, where many people have trouble. You’ll see here the movement starts by ‘breaking the KB’ – which helps pull the shoulders down and engage the lats. From there, you want to shift the weight back and hips up slightly to engage hamstrings. If you’re doing it right, the weight should be almost hovering off the ground. Don’t be afraid to set the weight on a block or step if you are unable to keep the back straight.

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💥KB Deadlift Isometric Setup💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . We use isometrics, often in warmups, to be strong and healthy in key ranges of motion – specifically end ranges of motion where we're often left vulnerable . This KB deadlift isometric addresses the bottom position of the movement, where many people have trouble. You'll see here the movement starts by 'breaking the KB' – which helps pull the shoulders down and engage the lats. From there, you want to shift the weight back and hips up slightly to engage hamstrings. If you're doing it right, the weight should be almost hovering off the ground. Don't be afraid to set the weight on a block or step if you are unable to keep the back straight . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Kettlebell Deadlifts

These KB deadlift variations (sumo double KB and single KB) are a great way to drill in this pattern, and can often be more friendly both for back pain and for those learning the movement. With the weight right between the center of mass, it is a great way to load it up heavy and get really good form for most people.

 

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💥KB Deadlift Variations💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . We use isometrics, often in warmups, to be strong and healthy in key ranges of motion – specifically end ranges of motion where we're often left vulnerable . These KB deadlift variations (sumo double kb and single kb) are a great way to drill in this pattern, and can often be more friendly both for back pain and for those learning the movement. With the weight right between the center of mass, it is a great way to load it up heavy and get really good form for most people . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Kettlebell Swings

KB swings have so much benefit that they should be in just about every program in some capacity. Once you’ve mastered the KB deadlift, you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of the swing. Too many tips to list here – but work with a coach who can help you dial this in and it will be well worth your investment.

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💥KB Swings💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . KB swings have so much benefit that they should be in just about every program in some capacity. Once you've mastered the KB deadlift, you're ready to start reaping the benefits of the swing. Too many tips to list here – but work with a coach who can help you dial this in and it will be well worth your investment . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Suitcase Deadlifts

Once you’ve spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it’s time to start adding more complexity into your variations. One way to do that is by loading a heavy weight on one side only – such as these suitcase deadlifts. This will challenge your core, hips, and shoulders in different ways. Fight to keep everything square and avoid rotating.

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💥Suitcase Deadlift💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . Once you've spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it's time to start adding more complexity into your variations. One way to do that is by loading a heavy weight on one side only – such as these suitcase deadlifts. This will challenge your core, hips, and shoulders in different ways. Fight to keep everything square and avoid rotating . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Kickstand Deadlifts

Another way to do that is to begin to work into single leg variations. Here is the kickstand deadlift, a great way to build some real strength on one leg without having to worry about the balance challenges of a single leg variation.

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💥Kickstand Deadlift💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . Once you've spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it's time to start adding more complexity into your variations. Another way to do that is to begin to work into single leg variations. Here is the kickstand deadlift, a great way to build some real strength on one leg without having to worry about the balance challenges of a single leg variation . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Single Leg Deadlifts

Another way to do that is to begin to work into single leg variations. Once you get strong and stable on one leg, you’re ready to tackle single leg deadlifts. One of our favorites with clients we see for both injury recovery and performance.

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⬅️Swipe for Exercises⬅️ . 💥Single Leg Deadlifts💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . Once you've spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it's time to start adding more complexity into your variations. Another way to do that is to begin to work into single leg variations. Once you get strong and stable on one leg, you're ready to tackle single leg deadlifts. One of our favorites with clients we see for both injury recovery and performance . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Romanian Deadlifts

Loading the pattern heavy with these RDLs is a great way to challenge a weak point for a lot of people while really emphasizing the hinge without the knee movement.

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💥RDLs💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . Once you've spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it's time to start adding more complexity into your variations. Loading the pattern heavy with these RDLs is a great way to challenge a weak point for a lot of people while really emphasizing the hinge without the knee movement . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Good Mornings

Adjusting the position of the load to the back can really change the areas worked – and tends to be a challenging (but beneficial) movement for those with history of lower back injuries.

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⬅️Swipe for Exercises⬅️ . 💥Good Mornings💥 . Do you get back pain or tightness with deadlifts? Has deadlift always been a challenging movement for you to do without getting hurt? Do you feel good when you deadlift, but wish you could move more weight? . The deadlift is one of those movements that people either love or can't stand. It's an amazing and functional movement that is so versatile (as you'll see throughout this series), and whether you're chasing performance or just overall health and longevity – this movement has to be in your routine in some form or another . If you're newer to the gym or this movement, don't be scared. Being able to properly perform this movement does not mean you have to lift hundreds of pounds. Whether it's a movement you've never done, or you're an experienced athlete looking to lift hundreds of pounds, it's a movement that is important to learn correctly. When done correctly, you can not only move more weight, but keep your back and other areas strong and healthy through the process . As you'll see across the board with these variations, the main movement pattern stays the same with subtle changes in the movement to challenge new areas. While we love having our clients deadlift – there's so much more than straight plane barbell deadlifts when it comes to feeling and performing good . Once you've spent time working on the basics of the hinge, it's time to start adding more complexity into your variations. Adjusting the position of the load to the back can really change the areas worked – and tends to be a challenging (but beneficial) movement for those with history of lower back injuries . Questions? Drop a comment below. Have someone who needs help building up their deadlift or getting rid of back pain? Tag them below ⬇️ . 🏋️‍♂️Looking to get strong, feel athletic, and train hard without pain? DM me for details on working together for custom 1-on-1 exercise programming and coaching. For those looking to level up in all areas of their life 📈

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Barbell and Alternative Deadlifts

Here are just a few of many ways to switch up the movement just enough to keep progress moving forward!

Are you working through lower back pain right now with your deadlifts, or even worse, simply avoiding this essential movement? Whether it’s been going on for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years – this will not get better on its own. There is no reason to continue to suffer through pain, click here to contact us today and get back to feeling your best.

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