The deadlift is a really great compound exercise that, when done properly, can work the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, inner thighs, abs and lats all at once. It also teaches you how to properly lift a heavy object off the ground in order to prevent lower back injuries.
Deadlifts should be incorporated into your training regularly, but there are several different variations you can work to mix up your training and target certain muscle groups. Check out these three deadlift variations you should be working into your training!
Double Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
The sumo deadlift allows you to target the adductor muscles (inner thighs) more because it takes a wider stance than a conventional deadlift. While this movement can also be done with a barbell or a single Kettlebell, the double kettlebell variation will allow you to engage your lat muscles more efficiently and will help you keep your back in a good position.
Begin with two kettlebells in between the feet. Have your feet wide with the toes slightly pointing outward. Make sure your knees are positioned so that they will track outward at the same angle as your toes. Hinge at the hips and sit your butt back so you can comfortably grab the handles of the kettlebells.
Grab one handle in each hand, arch the back, and lock your lats in place. As you stand tall, drive your hips forward, squeeze your glutes and abs, and exhale. To come back to your starting position, hinge at your hips and send your butt back. Make sure you keep the engagement in your lat muscles in order to keep your back safe, and inhale as you bring the kettlebells back to the ground.
Double Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift
This deadlift variation allows you to focus on squeezing your abductors (the outside of the glutes) and your lat muscles more by positioning the kettlebells outside of the body.
Begin with your feet hip width apart and one kettlebell on the outside of either foot. Hinge back at the hips and bring the body down so you can comfortably grab onto the handles of the kettlebells. Engage your lat muscles, drive your hips forward, and squeeze your glutes as you exhale and stand tall.
Really focus on engaging your lat muscles; there should be a small amount of space between the outside of your legs and the kettlebells as you stand tall, and you should feel like you’re picking up two heavy suitcases. Keep your lats engaged as you inhale and hinge back at the hips to bring the kettlebells back down to the starting position. Because of the placement of the kettlebells, your lat muscles and abductors will have to work harder to keep proper form.
This deadlift variation can be performed with either a kettlebell or a barbell, and it allows you to really focus on loading up the muscles of the glutes and hamstrings. The position of this deadlift is similar to a conventional deadlift; your feet are shoulder width to hip width apart and the kettlebell is in between the feet. However, the legs should be almost perfectly straight; you should feel a really intense stretch in the back of the legs. This more upright deadlift position will force your hamstrings to engage more.
Lock your lat muscles in the bottom position, and drive forward with your hips and squeeze your glutes, hamstrings and abs as you exhale to stand tall. Inhale and sit only the butt back while keeping the legs almost perfectly straight to come back to your starting position.
When incorporating deadlifts into your program, working 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps at a moderate weight will allow you to work on actively engaging the correct dominant muscles during each set. Try out these three variations (on different days, of course!) in order to strengthen many of the body’s major muscle groups!
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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