Welcome to the second installment of the deadlift series. In the first installment, we talked about the benefits of the Deadlift and why it should be a staple in your routine. If you haven’t read it already, you can check it here
In this article, we will run over the main Deadlifts variations, their execution techniques, their pros and cons, and which variation is the best for you. So, keep reading.
While there are many cool Deadlifts variations, the main 3 are the conventional deadlift, the sumo deadlift, and the Trap Bar Deadlift.
In the conventional deadlift, you start by standing with your feets shoulder-width apart, your shins are 90 degrees to the floor, and your shoulder blades over the bar. Then, With your head looking forward and your chest up, initiate the movement by driving through your heels and extend your hips and knees.
The conventional Deadlift is the most popular Deadlift variation. If you ask anyone to demonstrate a Deadlift he will automatically do a conventional style Deadlift.
The most important factor while performing conventional deadlifts is your foot positioning. Because we are all built differently, everyone has a unique stance where he had the most leverage. A tip that I learned from powerlifting coach Fred Hatfield is to hang up from a chin-up bar and drop to the floor. Note your foot position when you land. That’s the right conventional deadlifting stance for you.
The other factor to consider when deadlifting is how far away is the bar from your shins. This can vary from right against your shins to 5 inches or more away from it depending on your quad size. The bigger your quads are, the further away the bar should be from your shins.
Mid-foot will be a good starting place for most people.
The Sumo deadlifts is a wide stance Deadlift where your hands are in the inside of your thighs while pointing your toes out at the starting position. Again, your shins should be at 90 degrees to the ground and your shoulder blades over the bar. Then, With your head looking forward and your chest up, initiate the movement by driving through your heels and extend your hips and knees.
While it is considered as the easier Deadlift, the Sumo Deadlift is far more technically advanced than the conventional deadlift. You will need to determine the perfect width of your stance by experimenting with different width.
If you find it hard to perform Sumo deadlifts, start with a standing position and squat down. Another method of performing the sumo Deadlift is to bend, get a grip, then pull your chest up to bring your hips forward. Go with what works best. But, from my experience, I think that most people will find it easier to squat down when they are just starting to experiment with the Sumo Deadlift.
This variation requires the use of the Trap-Bar also known as the Hex-Bar. In the starting position, you will need to stand in the center of the apparatus and grab both handles.
Same as the other two variations, your shins should be at 90 degrees to the ground at the starting position. With your head looking forward and your chest up, initiate the movement by driving through your heels and extend your hips and knees.
Out of all 3 variations, this is my personal favorite. Despite its awkward appearance, the trap bar is one of the greatest items you can have at the gym.
In 2011, Research by Swinston and al(1) examined the biomechanics of the trap bar Deadlift vs the straight bat Deadlift. They found that significantly greater levels of peak force, velocity and power were produced with the trap bar compared to the straight bar. They also found that the trap bar variation was safer since it produced lower peak moments on the spine and hips.
So, if your gym has one of those bars, then you are in luck and you should make use of it.
Now, what if you don’t have access to the trap bar deadlift. Which variation you should choose.
What Is The Best Deadlift Variation For You?
Here comes the million dollar question. Now, after getting familiar with all Deadlift variations, you might be wondering which one is the best for you.
As a general rule of thumb, the best Deadlift variation will depend on your torso and arm length.
Short Torso: You can Pull conventional or Sumo
Average Torso: Pull Sumo
Long Torso: Pull Sumo
Short T-Rex Arms: Pull Sumo
Long Arms: Pull Conventional.
So, identify your torso and arm’s length and choose the variation that suits you the best. Trust me, this can be a game a changer for your future gains in the Deadlift.
Now, after taking a look at the 3 main variations of deadlift, we will discover the reasons why you might still weak at this lift in the next installment of the series. So, Stay Tuned!