Have you ever seen a video on the internet that is of some poor soul trying to do a workout move? And, their form is so terrible that anybody could tell that, hey, that isn’t the way that should be done?
Or they fall off of a machine, and God love them they just try to walk it off like nothing ever happened?
When I take on new clients, it is almost a certainty that they will tell me “hey, don’t make me do something that I don’t know how to do by myself so I don’t end up on the internet.”
To which I always reply, “don’t worry, mama! I’ve got you.”
Because, I get it, to do new exercises or anything new for that matter can actually be quite terrifying.
On that same note, while working with my clients, I love working with them on compound movements. Do I still do isolation movements? Absolutely I do.
But, I really work with them on compound movements.
Here’s why we work on compound movements….
Compound movements are movements that involve more than one muscle group to accomplish; and typically those movements that imitate everyday life. And you know what? As a general rule, we tend to have poor form in everyday movements.
It’s quite tragic actually.
Let’s take an example of one of my local gals that comes to one of my classes. She’s a different gal than the one pictured above, and this story ties right into deadlifts.
She is a pre-school teacher and has little ones that she has to lift into high chairs at lunchtime.
And, since school has started, she said her back was hurting/sore (she told me this about the October timeframe) that her back was hurting and she couldn’t figure out why.
Her thought was that it might have to do with the fact that she had to carry toddlers a large portion of the day.
We went over how she picked them up just to hold them on her hip as well as other times that she had to lift and place them.
Come to find out, as she was lifting them, she was over arching her back and pulling with only her back muscles instead of loading up her glutes and hamstrings to pick them up.
This change in how she picked up her kids quite literally rocked her world!
Her back pain went away all because she changed how she started picking up her little ones that she was in charge of throughout the day.
She perfected the “child deadlift”. Ha!
You see, mama, when we perfect the deadlift, we have the power to lift decent amounts of weight properly and without pain.
Such as our children, our giant purses or bags, and yes, even a heavy barbell.
Aside from the fact that deadlifts teach you how to lift weight properly; deadlifts are phenomenal for building up those legs, glutes, lower back and even strengthening your upper back when done properly.
Before we dive into my five favorite types of deadlifts, let’s talk about how I cue for a deadlift.
We’ll talk through a traditional deadlift and before we go any further, let’s chat a bit about using a barbell.
Never EVER drop an empty barbell and always use bumper plates when deadlifting. Bumper plates look like the below picture where you will see bumper plates on my barbell.
Okay! Now that our housekeeping announcements are over, let’s move on to form and cues, shall we?
Put the bar on the floor in front of you. And, if your gym has the option of male Olympic bars or female Olympic bars, choose accordingly. There is absolutely ZERO shame in using a female bar. It is made for females with their scientifically designed grip and length of bar.
Put the bar with appropriate weight on each end. Start lighter and work your way up! Remember that ‘lighter’ is relative to each and every person.
- Feet hip-shoulder width apart
- Hinge at the hips with knees slightly bent
- Grab ahold of the bar right outside the legs
- Keep your head level with your body
- Brace the core and ‘pin’ the shoulders back by pulling the shoulder blades in and down
- Keeping the arms taught, push down through the feet as though you’re trying to push the floor away from you and stand
To lower back to the floor:
- Hinge at the hips with knees slightly bent
- Core tight and lower back down until the plates make contact with the floor
- Voila! You have just completed a traditional deadlift.
Yay for you!
Now! Keep these general cues in mind as you move forward with each of these deadlift variations.
Because the basics of keeping core tight, back in line and head in line will remain the same.
Do you feel like a total bad A yet? I knew it.
You ready? Let’s dive into these 5 deadlift variations. There will be picture cues as we go along and then we’ll end with a video from my YouTube Channel and you will have a chance to go subscribe!
Deadlift Variations #1 – Traditional Deadlift
This deadlift is one that is most well known and the cues for it can be seen above.
Pro Tip- Video yourself while doing this movement. Don’t be afraid to video yourself. It doesn’t mean that you’re a stuck on yourself snob. It simply means that you are working on your fitness and lifestyle journey and you want to do things RIGHT!
You’ll be amazed at what you see. You’ll be able to see if your back is arching on the pull from the floor or if anything else looks wonky. Yes, that’s totally a word, let’s move on. 😊
Deadlift Variations #2 – Sumo Deadlift
This deadlift is so fun because you can totally walk up to the bar and stomp yourself into a wide stance like sumo wrestlers do. Totally kidding. You don’t have to do that. But it’d be hilarious anyway. 🙂
Your stance will be wide in this deadlift and your grip will be narrow. Slight hinge of the hips and push that floor away with your feet and stand up. You will have a more bend of the knee in this deadlift, so keep that in mind!
Pro Tip – It is very easy with this grip to get off balance. Remember to keep your core braced and a tight grip on that bar. This is why I always recommend to use a women’s bar if it is available. Because, the grip of the bar is smaller, the bar is also shorter length wise and we can have a solid grip and balance on the bar.
Deadlift Variations #3 – Trap Bar Deadlift
Otherwise known as the suitcase deadlift. This teaches the body how to properly pick things up that are going to be carried at our sides. The stance is back to the traditional deadlift stance, but the hinge of the hip will be slightly less.
Pro Tip – There are different kinds of trap bars. Some have really long weight arms like the one you’ll see I’m using below, while others have really short weight arms. This will change how the lift feels and might possibly throw off balance if you are used to one over the other. Just keep that in mind!
Deadlift Variations #4 – Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is a very similar move to the traditional deadlift, but on the descent, you will only take the bar to mid shin.
My favorite tempo with my clients for the Romanian DL is a slow lower to mid-shin and then a quick lift to the standing position. The movement should be an ‘explosive’ movement.
Pro Tip – If you are not feeling this in your lower butt and the tops of your hamstrings then you are doing it wrong. Because, even if you are using a 20# EZ Bar or the 35# of the women’s Olympic bar, your hamstrings and glutes WILL kick in you’re doing it right.
If you’re not feeling it in those areas, then keep hinging those hips. Shoot that butt back to the wall behind you. Make that butt work, mama!
Deadlift Variations #5 – Split Stance Romanian Deadlift
Alrighty, mama, we are now 1400 words into this post along with multiple graphics; you’re doing great! Keep hanging with me.
The final deadlift variation I want to show you is a progression of the Romanian Deadlift and all you do is simply split your stance a tiny bit. Put your weight on the non-bent leg, hinge at the hips while keeping the body in line and feel those glutes and hamstrings “scream” at you. Never pain, but you will feel the load in those muscles.
Pro Tip – The Split Stance RDL will fatigue your muscles very quickly and the form can be tricky. That said, make sure you have perfected the Romanian DL before progressing to splitting your stance. That doesn’t mean be afraid to progress, just make sure you’ve got your form down!
Here is the full video of all of the DL variations. Once you’ve watched the video, keep scrolling and we’ll finish out this post. You can click here to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!
Was it just me or was that exhausting? But in a good way?
See, here’s the deal. My goal as a coach is to take the guess work out of fitness and healthy living for busy and stressed mamas. There’s so much information out there it’s really hard to know what is true and what can be trusted, right?
You’re right. It is.
Which is why I am determined to make sure that my messaging stays consistent. Have I said stupid things before when I was a young coach? Girl, yes. We all say stupid things when we’re young. Heck, I still say dumb things in general sometimes.
But my messaging remains the same. Build a lifestyle and the results will come.
Yes, calorie deficits create fat loss and spending time in the gym makes you stronger. But, if that’s all we focus on, then we haven’t created a lifestyle that can be maintained, now can we?
That’s why people have a tendency to yo-yo diet. They go all in and then realize it’s not sustainable, instead of taking small pieces of the puzzle at a time. Learning compound movements that will help them in everyday life and learning how to eat for their body type, etc.
Learn new habits!
Want these deadlifts in a printable? Throw in your email below and I will send them to you! Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. I’ll send you a few free gifts over the next few days and then you’ll hear from me once a week with the newsletter!
Stick with me, mama, and I’ll do my best to take the guesswork out of postpartum fitness and healthy living.