Learn the Different Types of Deadlifts

The deadlift is one of the foundational exercises in any well designed strength or rehabilitation program. You’d be hard pressed to find another exercise that uses as many muscle groups as the deadlift and is as simple to teach to a beginner. If you find yourself struggling with your technique or are dealing with back pain during deadlifts, here are a few variations that can help!

Paused Deadlifts

The first few inches off the floor are make or break for the deadlift when weights are heavy. If the bar swings out away from the shins during the initiation, the chances of a missed lift are high. With heavier loads, the demands on the lower back to stay in extension go way up and while some lumbar flexion isn’t inherently bad, it can be uncomfortable for some lifters. Pausing right off the floor forces lifters to use lighter loads and “own” positions they might not be strong in.

The paused deadlift is a great variation to train the lifter to keep the bar on the legs and keep the back flat off the floor. Try adding the paused deadlift into your training as a supplemental exercise or even in place of your standard deadlift training for a few weeks and watch your deadlift strength and technique skyrocket!

Tempo Deadlifts

CrossFitters in particular are notorious for dropping deadlifts from the finish position and by doing this are missing out on half of the lift. The eccentric portion of the deadlift helps in storing elastic energy to be used for the next repetition by utilizing what’s known as the stretch shortening cycle. Deficits in eccentric strength have also been correlated to hamstring injury. It also helps build bigger hamstrings and glutes while training the lower back to be strong in extension while moving a heavy barbell.

A tempo deadlift–where the lifter lowers the bar for a specific count–is a brutal variation that will train a great bar path and build a super strong posterior chain. I love to use a 6-0-0 tempo where the lowering portion is a full 6 count with no pause in between reps. Start light with these and keep the reps around 5 or fewer because they can be spicy!

Snatch Grip Deadlift

With a conventional deadlift stance and grip the feet and the hands are set to maximize the force you can produce into the ground while minimizing the range of motion–all in service of lifting the most amount of weight possible. Sometimes, however, using a longer range of motion can be a great way to work weak points in the lift.

The snatch grip deadlift challenges the upper back much more than a standard deadlift and extends the range of motion markedly enough to make it a great addition to improve a lifter’s strength off the floor. I recommend using straps for this variation if you’re a powerlifter but CrossFitters or olympic weightlifters should practice using the hook grip or double overhand to improve your grip strength and have maximum carryover to your other lifts.

If you’re having back pain during deadlifts or any other lift, reach out to us to book an evaluation today! Let us help you get back to doing the things you love without pain and stronger than ever.