6 Ways to Do the Greatest Exercise on Earth

In this episode, Get-Fit Guy gives you 6 variations for how to do the deadlift - one of the greatest full body workouts ever!

Ben Greenfield
Episode #220

I recently tweeted: “Don’t have much time? There’s pretty much ONE exercise I’d recommend.”

In that tweet, I linked to a recently published study entitled “Barbell deadlift training increases the rate of torque development and vertical jump performance in novices.”

And while torque development and vertical jump performance may seem like things that primarily occupy the realm of professional athletics, the study shows an extremely impressive increase of 20-50% in maximum torque, which basically means that the capability of the deadlift to increase leg strength and force production is absolutely unparalleled.

This means that whether you want to get a better butt, firm up your thighs, get an absolutely bulletproof midsection, increase grip strength, or simply make yourself as tough and strong as possible, you simply can’t beat the deadlift.

That's why I consider the deadlift to be quite possibly the greatest exercise on earth.

Although the barbell deadlift - in which you simply bend down and pick up a weight off the ground - is the conventional gold-standard deadlift move, you may not necessarily have access to a barbell. You may also want some variations on the deadlift to keep things interesting or you may want to hit your muscles from a few different angles.

So in this episode, in the same spirit of my How to Get Better Legs With 13 Squat Variations episode, you’re going to get 6 variations of the deadlift.

6 Different Ways to Do the Deadlift

Option #1: The Trap Bar Deadlift

Also known as the “hex bar,” the trap bar is a funky-looking bar you may have seen at a gym or at a sporting goods store. It allows you to stand in between the two sections of the bar and more evenly distribute the weight that you’re lifting from the ground. It's good for beginner weight lifters because it allows you to deadlift with proper form. It also enables you to pick up the weight more safely if you have low back pain or low back weakness.

Option #2: The Romanian Deadlift

Also known as the “stiff-legged deadlift,” the Romanian deadlift shifts most of the deadlifting work to your “posterior chain” – the biomechanical term for your butt, your hamstrings, and your lower back. This is especially useful if you want to target your backside, get a stronger lower back, or have quadriceps that are significantly stronger or have a strength imbalance compared to your hamstrings (you’ll often know this if you have trouble filling out a pair of tight jeans!).

To do a stiff-legged deadlift, simply keep your knees bent to only about 20o at the bottom position of the deadlift. This means your back has to hinge much more than your knees, and also means that if your low back or hamstring mobility is limited, to reach the bar you may need to lift the bar from a slightly raised surface, such as a stack of boxes or step benches.

Just be sure not to round your back on this one, as that’s a fast path to a back injury!


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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