What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

Which should you pick and why? Find out now.

What is the best kind of deadlift for you? Jeremy Ethier explains…

What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

“The deadlift can be argued as the single best exercise for strengthening and developing the posterior chain. And although the conventional deadlift is typically what pops into most people’s minds when they think of the deadlift, it’s important to note that there are other variations that exist; such as the sumo deadlift and the trap bar deadlift. These alternatives not only slightly vary in the muscles they work and the training adaptations they elicit, but may actually be the better option for you based on your specific anthropometry, history of injury, and mobility restrictions.” 

“So how do you know which one is best for you? Well, let’s take a quick look at each type of deadlift.”

Tempo Training for Weights What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?Source: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Conventional Deadlift

“The conventional deadlift, which is the most popular option, is characterized by a narrow foot stance with the hands placed just outside of the knees. This causes the conventional deadlift form to have a more horizontal trunk angle during the setup than the other forms of the deadlift. This also means that this deadlift will involve the greatest lower back demands and will work the lower back muscles to the greatest degree. While also having the greatest mobility requirements. If you’ve had previous lower back injuries, then the conventional deadlift may not be best for you.”

Sumo Deadlift

“The sumo deadlift, a popular alternative, is characterized by a wider foot stance with the hands placed inside the knees at about shoulder-width apart.”

“This causes the sumo deadlift to have a more vertical trunk angle and resembling more of a squat movement than the other forms of the deadlift do. As for whether you should do the sumo deadlift vs conventional, it can be a good option since the upright angle of the setup decreases the stress placed on the lower back. It does however limit the range of motion (which can be argued as less effective for hypertrophy) while working the quadriceps more. If you struggle with conventional or would like the added emphasis on the quads, then the sumo would be the best option for you.”

Trap Bar Deadlift

“The trap bar deadlift, or hex bar deadlift uses a different type of bar such that you grip the bar at your sides rather than in front of you. As a result, the trunk angle is slightly more vertical than the conventional deadlift but more horizontal than the sumo deadlift.”

“The main benefit of the trap bar deadlift vs straight bar vs sumo deadlift, is that there is the least demand on the lower back. This is because the grip handles are at your sides. In addition, this type of deadlift is the best for athletes seeking to improve their explosive performance, power output, and force production. So, if you’ve had past lower back issues or want to improve your athleticism, this is the deadlift for you.” 

“Just keep in mind that there’s not one version that’s best for everyone. Instead, it’s vital that you choose the right variations based on your specific goals and what best suits your body and your history of injury.”

Video – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

Learn More

How to Increase Chest Size and Strength

Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

3 Hacks for a Bigger Chest

Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (Best to Worst)

9 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Muscles of the Posterior Chain

The muscles of the posterior chain are important for maintaining a healthy back, as well as for activities like running and cycling. They include the gluteus maximus, spinal erectors, hamstrings, gluteus medius and minimus, adductor magnus, soleus, quadratus lumborum and latissimus dorsi.

Gluteus maximus – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body and is responsible for extending, abducting and rotating the hip. It extends the thigh at the hip joint and helps maintain upright posture when standing or walking. It also stabilizes your pelvis during walking or running to help avoid excessive lateral sway of your hips.

Gluteus maximus is a large triangular superficial muscle that makes up much of what we think of as our “buttocks.” The other two parts are called gluteal muscles—gluteus medius and gluteus minimus—though they’re smaller than gluteus maximus because they’re deeper down in your anatomy than this superficial one.

Spinal erectors – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

  • The spinal erectors are a group of muscles that run along the vertebral column and project upwards, creating a “backbone” for the body. They help with posture and support the spine.
  • The spinal erectors include:
  • Iliocostalis lumborum (longissimus)
  • Multifidus spinae
  • Semispinalis capitis (semispinalis cervicis)

Hamstrings – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

Hamstrings are a group of muscles in the back of your thigh. They can be strengthened by doing exercises that involve bending the knee and extending it straight back, such as stiff legged deadlifts or glute bridges.

Other hamstring exercises include:

  • Single leg Romanian deadlift (performed with one leg on an elevated platform while keeping the other planted)
  • Good morning

Gluteus medius and minimus – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

The gluteus medius and minimus are two muscles on the side of your hips that abduct your thigh. They’re often referred to as “the glutes” because they make up so much of the shape, size and definition of your butt.

Gluteus medius is larger than its companion muscle, gluteus minimus. You can feel it easily through your skin just below the surface of your upper thigh whenever you move or walk around—it’s the big bulge near where you take off a pair of pants.

To locate it, imagine drawing an imaginary line from one side of the top hip bone (or iliac crest) to another; this line would intersect with both glutes muscles at their height points above each other on each side further back toward where they attach just underneath each shoulder blade area as seen in this image:

Adductor magnus

The adductor magnus is a powerful hip extensor that is located in the thigh, deep to the pectineus and gracilis. It is the largest muscle in the human body and makes up about half of your posterior chain muscles.

Soleus – What is the Best Kind of Deadlift for You?

The soleus is located in the lower posterior portion of the leg. It’s responsible for plantar flexion (the action of pointing your toes), which means that it also helps to extend your ankles and straighten your legs out behind you.

The best way to target this muscle during a workout is by doing lunges, where one foot remains planted on the ground while its partner steps out and back into place. The more weight you can put on one leg at a time, the better off you’ll be in terms of targeting this area.

The muscles of the posterior chain are important to strengthen

The muscles of the posterior chain are important to strengthen. They include:

  • Gluteus Maximus (glutes)
  • Gluteus Medius (glutes)
  • Quadratus Lumborum (low back)
  • Erector Spinae (spine/back)


The posterior chain is an important part of the body that can be strengthened by various exercises. These muscles are responsible for providing stability, postural support and movement control. When these muscles have been weakened or overworked it may lead to injury or pain in other areas of the body such as low back pain or knee pain.

Use the advice above to find the right type of deadlift for you.

Image Sources

Related news