Welcome to Modify This Move, a series that will provide you with all the information you need to modify a common exercise to suit your needs, your body, and your mood. Each tale explains a fundamental fitness action in detail before offering a variety of variations based on your current level of fitness or energy, any current or past ailments, or the muscles you wish to focus on the most. So leave your ego at the door and make sure every workout is appropriate for where you are right now.
Lifting heavy goods (like your most recent Amazon order or a completely filled laundry basket) off the floor is a straightforward activity but, if done incorrectly, can seriously damage your back. But according to Keri Harvey , a NASM-certified personal trainer in New York City, performing one functional strength-building exercise—the deadlift—can help maintain your back and the muscles surrounding it feeling strong and pain-free.
Everyone should learn how to perform the deadlift, which includes lowering weights to the floor and then raising them by hunching at the hips, according to Harvey. It’s crucial that you comprehend that movement pattern in order to, first, relieve your current lower back discomfort and, second, hopefully, prevent future injuries. If the potential of reducing your risk of injury and relieving your aches isn’t persuading you enough, consider the fact that deadlifts work both your lower and upper body muscles. According to Harvey, the exercise will specifically work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, back, lats, and forearms.
However, there are other methods to obtain such advantages outside the traditional deadlift. A modified deadlift variant enables people who are new to weightlifting or who want a mild workout to concentrate on form rather than the amount of weight they can lift. Similar to this, those who experience lower back pain might select a deadlift variation that is intended to manage their discomfort while still advancing their fitness. You can also choose from several deadlift variations if you want to focus on a particular muscle area to correct any potential imbalances. Whatever your motivation, you should have the freedom to modify the exercise to suit your needs, goals, level of experience, etc.
Are you prepared to try the traditional strength-training exercise? Learn how to perform the standard deadlift by following the steps below, and then see Harvey demonstrate how to change it up with five different deadlift variations she presented that are suitable for people of all fitness levels.
A. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of the thighs, palms facing the body, as you stand with your feet hip-width apart.
B. Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades back. Next, drive your hips backwards while maintaining your arms straight to bring both dumbbells down to the floor in front of your legs. Continue lowering the weights until they are as low to the floor as you safely can and your hips are completely extended.
C. While keeping your chest up, push through your feet to stand back up while tightening your glutes at the top.
After giving the traditional deadlift a try, you might want to modify it to suit your unique needs and objectives. Feel free to try a deadlift variation that ticks all your boxes if the standard version feels too difficult or too easy on a particular muscle group.
You may find deadlift modifications that increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercise here, such as a deadlift modification for lower back discomfort and a deadlift modification that targets the glutes and hamstrings. Whatever you decide, Harvey advises that you keep listening to your body as you go through your reps and attempt a different exercise if it doesn’t feel right or, more significantly, if you have lower back pain. Then, she says, “you need to stop right away, and it’s time to go back to the basics.” “If someone experiences pain while deadlifting, it’s usually because they’re squatting the weight but aren’t actually hinging the hips and sitting them back far enough. In order to execute the move correctly, you should accentuate that particular part of the maneuver.”
SINGLE-LEG DEADLIFT IS A LEVEL UP DEADLIFT VARIATION Consider making the exercise more difficult by attempting a regular deadlift with only one leg moving at a time if you find that you hardly get a sweat going. This will test your balance and give you a chance to assess any potential abnormalities on either side of your body, according to Harvey. You might be able to tell by looking at your single-leg deadlift that you have a weaker side than the other because everyone does. You’ll have to work much harder to maintain your lats contracted during this deadlift variation because it’s easy to let your arms hang limply in front of your torso, she says.
A. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms towards the body as you stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
B. Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades back. Put your weight on your right leg and slightly flex your right knee.
C. While keeping your arms straight, pull your left leg off the ground and extend it behind your body as you lower both dumbbells to the floor in front of your legs. Continue lowering the weights until they are as low to the floor as you safely can and your hips are completely extended.
D. While maintaining a straight back, squeeze your glutes at the top and push through your right heel to bring your left foot back to the ground and stand up.
DECREASING DEADLIFT VARIATION: KETTLEBELL DEADLIFT According to Harvey, this deadlift variant is especially helpful for novices because it demonstrates how to correctly drive your hips back and activate your lats. She says that because you put the kettlebell directly between your feet, you have to start pulling your hips back in order to touch it. When you get hold of it, you can already feel your lats extending forward, which is a wonderful cue for your brain to tell you to press your shoulders backward so you can rise up. If they sense their form beginning to deteriorate, even seasoned lifters who are familiar with the movement pattern might adopt this variant.
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms at your sides, and a kettlebell on the ground between your foot arches.
B. Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades back. Once both hands can grasp the kettlebell handle, send your hips back and lower your body until it is parallel to the floor. palms facing the legs, place both hands on the handle.
D. While maintaining a straight back and shoulders, descend the kettlebell toward the floor in front of your legs by sending your hips back until it is as close to the floor as you can.
E. Remaining upright, push through the feet to stand back up while tightening the glutes at the top.
ROMANIAN DEADLIFT: A DEADLIFT VARIATION TO TARGET HAMSTRINGS The minor difference between this deadlift variant and the standard exercise has a significant effect on your hamstrings. According to Harvey, you won’t lower the weights all the way to the floor during this exercise and your knees won’t bend as much. She claims that when performing this exercise, “you really are working your hips and just your hips to get the weight up and down.” You’ll experience a considerably stronger stretch in the hamstrings as a result.
B. Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades back. Next, drive your hips backwards while maintaining your arms straight to bring both dumbbells down to the floor in front of your legs. When the weights are about halfway down your lower shins, stop lowering until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
SUMO DEADLIFT: A DEADLIFT VARIATION TO TARGET GLUTES According to Harvey, the broader stance of this deadlift variation helps to activate your glutes. However, she stresses the significance of maintaining a mind-muscle connection. She continues, “I really want you to concentrate on the glutes. To really feel your glutes switch on and focus them as you drop, “think about” shooting your glutes outward.
A. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of the thighs, palms facing the body, as you stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and your toes pointed outward.
GOOD MORNING WITH DOWEL IS A DEADLIFT VARIATION FOR LOW BACK PAIN According to Harvey, this variation of the deadlift known as the “good morning exercise” helps you learn the correct form without the bells and whistles and also stretches your lower back when you’re in pain there. She continues, “You would practice it until you felt comfortable with it, then you would take out the dowel and do it solely using your bodyweight. You can advance to a kettlebell deadlift if you’re pain-free and have mastered the bodyweight deadlift, she advises.
A. Hold a dowel with the palms facing forward, pressing it at the top of your shoulder blades as you stand with your feet hip-width apart.
B. Contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades back. After that, bring your hips back to bring your upper body to the ground. Up until the hips are fully pushed back, keep lowering.
Artist and photographer Jenna Brillhart Keri Harvey, a fitness professional and model Makeup and hair: Tee Chavez hosiery: Aerie