Deadlift Variations

I was recently reading the article titled “Variations of the Deadlift” that was published in the strength and conditioning journal in 2001 and thought I would summarise the key take home messages.  For those who would like to read the article in full, please click here.

Key Messages

  • The deadlift is a great exercise used by many strength and conditioning coaches to develop leg, hip, back and torso strength.
  • The two most common deadlift techniques performed include the conventional stance deadlift and the sumo stance deadlift.
  • The conventional stance deadlift is characterized by a shoulder width stance and the arms outside of the thighs.
  • The sumo stance deadlift is characterised by a wide stance and hand grip between the legs.
  • The conventional stance deadlift emphasises the lower back muscles more than the sumo stance because ones trunk is flexed forward more so.
  • The sumo style lift requires greater recruitment of the hip muscles to move the load.
  • The straight leg or stiff leg deadlift is a common variation used for strengthening the lower back and hamstring muscles.
  • Power rack deadlifts can be used to strengthen a particular phase of the deadlift movement i.e. usually the upper portion of the deadlift.
  • Machine deadlifts / Smith Machine Deadlifts can also be performed, but a negative could be the fact that it is a fixed plane movement.
  • The snatch grip deadlift helps to emphasise the thoracolumbar fascia, erector spinae and shoulder girdle muscles that stabilise the shoulder.
  • A single arm / one arm deadlift (dumbbell) requires muscular coordination and can increase the neurological demand.
  • Dumbbell deadlifts require one to stabilise around each weight and can allow for a greater range of motion compared to barbell deadlifts due to the typical size of weight plates used.
  • Fat bar deadlifts allow one to train both grip and back strength at the same time.
  • Finger tip deadlifts allow one to train finger and forearm strength.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.


Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics.

The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.

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