Deadlifts are a highly functional exercise, provided that you do them with proper form. If you struggle with them, however, you should try these 4 alternatives.
We're all familiar with the deadlift. Although it's most often incorporated into leg workouts, it's actually a compound exercise, meaning it targets several muscle groups.
The deadlift, which is a popular bodybuilding exercise and a favorite among strongmen, works the legs, glutes, hips and core (abs and lower back). The problem is that we often avoid it for fear of having back pain. Deadlifting with bad form = lower back pain.
And it's not necessarily your fault. Your body may not be adapted to this movement. The morphology of your hips or your spine might be to blame. So to avoid hurting yourself while still getting strong, here are 4 alternatives to deadlifts.
# 1: The Rack Pull
This exercise is pretty much the same as the deadlift, except the bar is higher. You won't have to perform the first part of the deadlift, which is often the most problematic part for the back and hips.
To perform this movement, raise the bar with pods or the safety bar at the height of your knees (at the very least). Grab the bar with both hands, with your arms slightly wider apart than your legs, then bend your knees slightly while lowering your hips.
Straighten up your hips and squeeze your glutes. Watch out for unnecessary lumbar hyperextension.
# 2: Farmer's Walk
Like the deadlift, the farmer's walk is a popular exercise among strongmen. Except you won't be lifting a car! Conventional weights - dumbbells or, ideally, a hex bar - will do the job. This simple movement will work your entire body, including your core, upper back and stabilizing muscles.
To perform a farmer's walk, grab some (heavy) weights. As you lift them, make sure to keep them on either side of your body and, with your arms straight, walk for a set amount of time or distance. To add some variety to this exercise, you can take a hex bar and place the weights in front of and behind you.
# 3: The hip thrust
Although they're often viewed as a "girly" exercise because they work the glutes, hip thrusts are also one of the most effective exercises in its category. Leave your (so-called) alpha male ego at the door and try this move. This exercise works the same muscles as the deadlift, without all the pressure on your lower back.
In theory, it's quite easy to do a hip thrust. Sit on the floor, with a bench behind your back and a bar on your hips. Place your shoulders on the bench for support, lay both of your feet flat on the ground and raise your hips while squeezing your glutes to align your shoulders and knees. Return to your starting position and repeat.
# 4: The single-leg Romanian deadlift
It may sound more like a yoga pose than a bodybuilding exercise but don't be fooled! The single-leg Romanian deadlift is effective because it strengthens your muscles unilaterally. This movement will target your entire posterior chain, from the lower back to the calves, without putting any unnecessary pressure on your back.
Finally, an exercise that's easier to do than it is to pronounce! Take two heavy dumbbells and hold one in each hand while standing. Shift your weight over to your left leg. Lean forward until the dumbbell is almost touching the ground. Your right leg should follow the movement and stay aligned with your upper body. Return to the starting position and switch legs.