barbell bent over row

The dead in the deadlift symbolizes a dead weight which means that all weight must begin from a dead stop. Deadlift plays a major role in developing strength, power and size, it should definitely be the foundation of your workout routine. It gives you the ability to handle heavier weights than any other free weight exercise which will completely stimulate the lower and upper back muscles. If you want to gain muscle, incorporate different deadlift variation to your routine to properly stimulate the entire body.

It also works to improve explosive power and vertical jump performance. It can be used to build a big wide back and it is also great for working the legs.

Gaining muscle with deadlift comes with great benefits such as;

  • Deadlift will also benefit you even outside the gym, in your daily life such as picking up things, moving a piece of furniture. It activates a lot of muscles and mimics proper lifting which minimizes the chances of injury.
  • Provides better posture: A deadlift creates basic stability and strength that will enhance your posture, correct form of deadlifting enables a person to keep a straight back while performing daily activities.
  • Improves grip strength: Grip strength is very important in resistance training and deadlifts develop grip strength due to the large weight involved in it. Your fore-arms work incredibly work hard to keep the bar from falling out of your hands, this greatly increases your grip strength.
  • it builds strength: Deadlift are a major indicator of strength which is why it is among the top 3s of the power lifting competition. There is no other lift that builds up a full muscle strength like the deadlift. It is a real measure of strength either you pick the weight of the ground or you can’t.
  • It works many muscle groups: It is a great compound movement that targets almost all the upper and lower body muscles. It really forces the whole body to grow as a whole.
  • Better cardio-respiratory fitness: It is very beneficial for cardio health when done with high intensity.
  • Prevent injury: It can help prevent injury by strengthening the body’s tissues; The muscles around the tendons and the joints which is essential to prevent injuries.

Variations of deadlift

To gain muscle with a deadlift, you have to incorporate a different variety of deadlift into your routine. Variety is good for both strength and hypertrophy as it prevents overuse-injuries, there are different deadlift variation one can do. However, it is up to you to decide which deadlift variation suits your goals, strengths and weaknesses.

Conventional deadlift

The conventional deadlift which is the most popular deadlift variation, involves technique and skill to execute this lift.


Muscles worked: lower back, upper back, trapezius, glutes and legs.

How to do a conventional deadlift

  1. Stand in front of a loaded barbell, bend your knees, lean forward and grasp the bar in a medium-width grip, one hand in an over hand grip, the other in an under-hand grip.
  2. Keep a straight back. Avoid rounding your back to prevent injuries.
  3. Begin the lift by driving with the legs
  4. Straighten up until you are standing upright
  5. Slowly lower the weight, bend the knees while leaning forward from the waist and lower the weight slow and controlled.

Romanian deadlift

The Romanian deadlift emphasizes the hamstrings and the glutes. It also helps you to learn hip hinge movement which is essential during a deadlift and also less strenuous on the knee joint


How to do the Romanian deadlift

  1. Stand with the bar or weight in your hands as opposed to the floor.
  2. Lower the weight slowly by bending slightly at the knees and keeping a straight back.
  3. Lower it until you feel a slight stretch in your hips, usually when the weight has just passed the knees.
  4. Drive the hips forward and use the use the hamstrings to power back up to standing.

Sumo deadlift

This deadlift variation helps to reduce the stress placed on the lower back compared to the traditional deadlift. The sumo deadlift involves the feet being in a wider stance, it allows for heavy loads to be used.

Sumo deadlifts are often recommended for those with lower back issues as there is limited flexion involved.


How to do sumo deadlift

  1. Stand in front of a loaded barbell with feet shoulder- width apart.
  2. Bend at the hips to lower and grab the bar either with an overhand grip or mixed grip (one underhand, one overhand).
  3. Keeping a straight back and your chest up, drive through the knees pulling up on the bar.
  4. Then return to the starting position.

Trap bar deadlift

Also known as the hex bar deadlift, it is a deadlift variation performed with a specialty bar. The bar allows the lifter to maintain a vertical torso in an upright position which decreases the need for lower back strength.



How to do the trap bar deadlift

  1. Start by assuming a hip width stance in the center of a trap bar with toes pointed forward (in line with the knees).
  2. Bend at the knees and drop your hips in order to secure an overhand grip, keep the chest up.
  3. Assume a vertical position with the pelvis neutral and the upper back straight.
  4. Squeeze the bar as you pull the shoulders down and back.
  5. Inhale and brace you core.
  6. Pull the barbell up explosively by standing up and straightening your hips and your knees.
  7. Lower the weight quickly but controlled.

Block deadlift

Block deadlift variation are elevated deadlift with height ranging from 1-6inches. The bar is higher than normal either set on the blocks or plates.

In block pull deadlift, you can add more weight than they normally do and are great for beginners to strengthen the weak part of their deadlift.


How to do the block deadlift

  1. Elevate each side of the barbell with blocks or weight plates.
  2. Step up to the barbell aligning your shins with the smooth sections- this should be around shoulder width.
  3. Keep your chest up, brace the core and straight your back.
  4. Bend at the knees and drop your hips in order to secure an overhand grip.
  5. Pull the barbell up while you drive your hips forward.
  6. Then lower the barbell back to the starting position.

Rack deadlifts or rack pulls

The rack pull is an exercise that builds total body strength with more emphasis on the back and lower body. It’s a partial range deadlift which can be done with weights on an elevated surface either block or plates or they can be done in a squat rack.

The rack pulls are beneficial for beginners new to the deadlift as it can teach proper deadlifting techniques due to the range of motion – pulling the weight from a rack above or around the knee thereby minimizing hip flexibility. This can help beginners to learn proper deadlift form and increase back and glute strength while reducing lower back strength.

How to do the rack pulls

  1. Place a loaded barbell in a squat rack just above your knees. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Leaning slightly forward at hips with knees bent slightly, grab the bar with an overhand grip.
  3. Quickly extend your knees and hips, pulling the weight up and back until your body completely locks out.
  4. Then slowly return back to starting position.

Snatch grip deadlift

This is a type of Olympic lifting, an advance deadlift variation done with a wide grip on the barbell. The snatch grip can add size to the traps, upper back, hamstring and glutes.


How to do the snatch grip deadlift

  1. Start by standing behind the bar with your feet hip-width apart and rotated out slightly.
  2. Dip your hips back until you bare almost in a full squat position, and grip the bar with a wider grip on the barbell. Avoid rounding the back, keep a straight back throughout.
  3. Rise out of the squat position while holding the bar.
  4. Then lower the bar back down to the starting position.

Tips on properly executing the deadlift

To gain muscle with deadlift, maintaining a proper form is essential in order to avoid injuries.

  1. Keep the chest, shoulders and back upright. Avoid rounding your back which can lead to injuries and limit growth.
  2. Set up the bar directly over your feet, do not stand too far away from the bar as this can place tremendous stress on the joint due to far distance of the bar placement.
  3. Initiate the pulling movement by thinking about trying to bend the bar toward you, this will further engage the lats. Do not jerk the bar up.
  4. As you lift the bar up, make sure not to round the back, still maintain good form.
  5. Stands erect, do not hyper extend the back.
  6. Lower the weight quickly but with control.
  7. Use straps for ultra-heavy weights as the grip can be a limiting factor for lifting the weight.
  8. Recovery is important for growth especially when it comes o compound movements.


Deadlift is important for overall muscle growth, core strength and stability and must be included in serious lifter routine, but it’s also damaging if performed wrongly, using proper form is very essential. If your goal is to gain muscle with deadlift, you need a lot of energy, intensity and proper planning to accomplish this.

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