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Are Your Deadlifts Stuck In The Past?

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Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration, DVRT Pelvic Control & Shoulder Courses)

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It always gets me, whats up with all the PR talk and promotion of super heavy deadlifts? Is it just me? I don’t get it. When did that become a thing for general population? Don’t get me wrong, I get wanting to achieve a goal or see progress but why are so many people putting so much emphasis on the deadlift and heavy deadlifts at that? Was that really a goal of the client or your own? Or did someone else tell you to push for? There is a big difference in your own goals and someone else’s goals…just saying. Renowned Strength Coach, Mike Boyle, has even asked, “does your grandma need a 300 pound deadlift to live her life better?” More importantly is the toll such a goal places upon the body even worth trying to achieve it?

Anyway, I will end my little soap box rant for now. I just feel that there is just too much emphasis on load and not enough on movement. I get it, you can’t lift super heavy and train movement at the same time but shouldn’t  that be something you work on? Shouldn’t that actually be the goal? Being able to move in one plane of motion and resist force in another? Is that what true strength is? Many people will write off functional training because they can’t lift anything close to significant loads once we introduce more complex movement to an exercise. However, that is one of the BIGGEST signs we need to think more of just going heavy, how about going heavy while moving?!

Where am I going with this right? Well, I guess I just want to open your eyes up to other variations of deadlifts, ones I feel actually work the posterior chain much better than just the traditional deadlift. 

So you might be saying, how can there really be anything different or better than good ole’ deadlifts? “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Sometimes we don’t know something is broken until we look at it with the right glasses.

There is a lot of ways you can change deadlifts not to just be different, but to actually get better. I want to break down DVRT Deadlifts for you, so you can see where you can take your deadlift and why being fixated on just heavy deadlifting may be keeping you stuck back in the past. 

So lets progress your deadlifts! 

First off we all know the traditional Bilateral Stance Deadlift right? That is where you can start. We learn how to properly hinge, brace our core, use our feet, and understand how our lats are connected to our core. But where do we go from there? 

sandbag deadlifts

Lets alter our stability now, just a bit..lets take it into our Sprinter Stance Deadlift, here you will find with just the slightest bit of change to our stance this can open up a whole knew world…this adds in instability by changing your stance. You would be surprised how difficult this can be for those that have never done this. 

Sprinter Stance Deadlifts introduce the need to resist lateral movement and rotation. Best part, we do this is a progressive manner as trying to make a BIG leap in instability usually causes failure and lack of continued progress (the biggest reason people struggle going from bilateral deadlifts to single leg). This is also how we make Ultimate Sandbags feel just a little bit heavier instead of changing the actual weight.

So once we have the Sprinter Stance Deadlift down and we are able to stabilize and perform that movement with consistence, we can play with what we call to call the Rear Slide Deadlift. Using a sliding motion (with a slider like a ValSlide) allows us to remain in contact with the ground the entire time, so it helps us out with the movement. Using a slider you can play with how far back you take this slide, basically as far as you can control the movement. Just watch those hips! They like to start and move all around so, again, we are challenging the deadlift here with change in position/ stance but what else? Now we are also resisting lateral forces with this movement whereas the traditional deadlift we are only resisting sagittal  forces, so a little more bang for your buck right? Which mean you are working more muscles! So hope you can see that maybe there is more than just our regular old deadlift. 

All right, so after we have good control of that Rear Slide deadlift we can take the slider away and challenge ourselves a bit more, with simply a step. Since we took away the ground contact we had with the slider, the reverse step deadlift is going to be a bit harder so you can play with how long of a step you take and really build that pattern with control and stability. 

Now that we have progressed our deadlift in a reverse step/slide pattern where else could we possibly go? Like lunging, changing direction with our deadlifts not only gives us more options, but changes the intensity of our movements. Going lateral with the Lateral Slide/ Step Deadlift, we can utilize a slide or stepping action just like we did with with the reverse step… so look at us! Since most people lack strength in the frontal plane this is important for hip and core stability. Too many turn these deadlifts into lunges so pay attention to the little details that make a BIG difference!

We can move forward with the Forward Step Deadlift and this is one of my favorite deadlift variations, its not one you see a whole lot, but to me, and this may just be me, I “feel” it a whole lot more in the posterior. So again we play with the step so that we can perform the movement under control and stability, we are moving forwad so we also have to control the movment a bit more than in the other planes. So next time add this into your workout and see if you feel what I feel! 

We are not done yet! The  Cross Over Step Deadlift is one of our final progressions, which again, I think is actually one of the better deadlift variation for really kicking the butt…literally! 

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, shows how we will often slow down the hip hinge and make sure we own the bottom position of these deadlifts by adding a row or two. He also demonstrates the difference between hinging and lunging from these positions. 

Lastly we finally have reached our Single Leg Deadlift and did you see how many other progressions you had before leading up to this? So many times people just jump from bilateral stance deadlift right to single leg deadlift and that really is way too much of a jump, so now you have a better way to lead yourself up to the single leg deadlift! 

So let’s break this down for you and watch how DVRT Master, Greg Perlaki, goes from most challenging to least in these deadlifts. When you see that the glutes and core are meant to move and stabilize us as the same time you get a greater appreciation of what deadlifts can be and how they can help you gain better strength for life!

-Bilateral Deadlifts

-Sprinter Stance

-Rear Slide

-Rear Step

-Lateral Deadlifts

-Forward Step


-Single Leg Deadlifts

Get more great training ideas from our DVRT Online Courses HERE & Workout programs HERE and save 30% all throughout DVRT with coupon code “holiday”