Deadlifts With Dumbbells – Introduction
How do you do a dumbbell deadlift with proper form, what are the muscles worked, and its benefits and variations?
The barbell deadlift is an excellent strength and conditioning exercise.
It’s a great way to build muscle and strength throughout your body.
But, to do it, you’ll need a barbell, a stack of weight plates, and maybe even a weightlifting platform.
Because of this, the traditional barbell deadlift is often impractical for home exercisers.
The good news is that there are deadlift variations you can do with dumbbells.
Dumbbell deadlifts are a very effective and much more accessible version of this popular compound exercise, and most exercisers can do it at home.
Muscles Worked During Dumbbell Deadlifts
Dumbbell deadlifts work the same muscles as the traditional barbell version and are every bit as effective as the barbell version.
In case you have forgotten or aren’t sure what those muscles are, here’s a list of the main ones involved in this exercise.
- Gluteal muscles – particularly your gluteus maximus – glutes for short, your main hip extender that you’re likely sitting on now!
- Hamstrings – the muscles on the back of your thigh that flex your knees and extend your hips
- Quadriceps – located on the front of your thigh, this muscle extends your knee
- Erector spinae – the muscles that make up your lower back
- Core and abdominal muscles – the muscles that encircle your midsection like a corset or weightlifting belt to support your spine
- Trapezius – the large trapezoid-shaped muscle that covers your upper back
- Latissimus dorsi – wide, wing-like muscles on either side of your back
- Forearm flexors – the muscles that keep your hands firmly closed around the dumbbells you are lifting
As you can see, the dumbbell deadlift muscles used include a lot of muscles – most of which are on the back of your body and are collectively called your posterior chain.
Because deadlifts involve so many muscles, they are often thought of as a full-body exercise and are especially useful for developing full-body strength.
The Dumbbell Deadlift | CrossFit
Dumbbell Deadlift Form Tips
To get the most from any exercise, especially one as important as the dumbbell deadlift, you must do it right.
Bad form will not only make your workouts less productive but could also lead to injury.
The best way to master dumbbell deadlifts is to learn them from a personal trainer, but this is not always practical or possible.
Instead, here is a step-by-step guide to proper dumbbell deadlift form.
How to Do Deadlifts With Dumbbells
- Place your dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
- Stand between them with your feet hip-width apart.
- Squat down and grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip, palms facing inward.
- Straighten your arms and keep them straight throughout.
- Lift your chest, pull your shoulders down and back, brace your abs, and slightly arch your lower back.
- Drop your hips so that they are just below the height of your shoulders.
- Keep your head in line with the rest of your body.
- This is your starting position.
- Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight.
- Do not round your lower back or allow your hips to rise faster than your shoulders.
- Complete the rep to a standing position at the top of the movement, but do not lean back.
- Push your hips back, bend your legs, and lower the weights back to the floor.
- Allow them to settle on the floor for a second, reset your core and starting position, and then
How To Dumbbell Deadlift
Dumbbell Deadlift Benefits
Still not sure you want to include dumbbell deadlifts in your strength training workouts?
Here are seven benefits of this fantastic exercise.
#1. Increased full-body strength
Strength is your ability to lift heavy weights.
Being strong makes many everyday activities easier, from lifting bags of groceries to climbing the stairs.
Strength is especially useful for sports.
#2. A stronger grip
Grip strength is a good indicator of longevity and quality of life.
Doing dumbbell deadlifts is a great way to build a firmer grip.
Increased hand strength can make many otherwise difficult manual tasks much easier, such as opening lids on jars.
#3. Burn fat
Deadlifts use a large number of muscles in your body, and that means every rep burns a lot of calories.
Providing you are eating healthily, and following a low-calorie diet, dumbbell deadlifts could help you burn fat and lose weight.
#4. Better posture
Deadlifts work your posterior chain.
These are the same muscles that hold your body upright against the pull of gravity.
Dumbbell deadlifts can help fix the slouch that usually accompanies long periods of sitting.
Better posture takes stress off your lower back and also makes you look younger.
#5. Better sports performance
If you run, jump, throw, or kick as part of a sport, deadlifts may help improve your sports performance.
The posterior chain is responsible for driving you forward, and the more powerfully you can do this, the faster you’ll be able to run, the further you’ll be able to throw and jump, and the harder you’ll be able to kick.
#6. Workout satisfaction
Doing dumbbell deadlifts, especially with heavier weights, can be very satisfying.
You’ll feel a high degree of accomplishment after doing this exercise.
Other than squats, very few exercises are as gratifying to do.
#7. Home workout convenience
To do traditional deadlifts with a barbell, you need a lot of space.
A barbell is usually seven-feet long!
Dumbbell deadlifts require much less space, which makes them more convenient and accessible for home exercisers.
Banded Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift Variation
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Dumbbell Deadlift Variations and Alternatives
While the regular version of the dumbbell deadlift is an excellent exercise, there is more than one way to do this move.
Here are a few versions and alternatives you can use to add variety to your workouts.
Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlift
The dumbbell stiff leg deadlift all but eliminates your quads from the movement, making it all about the posterior chain.
To do it, hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your legs, palms facing your thighs.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
Bend your knees slightly, and then keep them rigid.
Without rounding your lower back, hinge forward from your hips and lower the weights down the front of your legs as far as your flexibility allows.
Stand back up and repeat.
Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift – Exercise #3 of 7 Different Dumbbell Exercises
Single leg dumbbell deadlift
This variation will help identify and fix any left to right strength imbalances you might have.
It’s also useful for improving your balance and stability.
With a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your legs, stand on one, slightly bent but rigid leg.
Lean forward and lower the weights down toward the floor.
Extend your non-working leg behind you for balance.
Do not round your lower back.
Stand back up and repeat.
On completion, rest a moment and then do the same number of reps on the other leg.
How To Stiff-Leg Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
Deficit Dumbbell Deadlifts
Dumbbell deadlifts already involve a greater range of motion than conventional barbell deadlifts, but if you want to increase that range of movement even more, try standing on a low platform such as a two to four-inch step box.
This will make your dumbbell deadlift workout much more challenging.
Make sure you don’t round your lower back as that could lead to injury.
Deficit deadlifts are an advanced exercise.
Rack pull dumbbell deadlifts
If you only have small dumbbells, have poor flexibility, or just find it hard not to round your back during dumbbell deadlifts, this is the variation for you.
For this alternative, place your dumbbells on a raised surface to reduce your range of motion.
Do the exercise as usual but, by starting each rep with the weights raised off the floor, you won’t need to bend down as far.
That will make it easier to keep your lower back arched and avoid rounding it.
Dumbbell deadlift FAQs
Do you have questions about dumbbell deadlifts?
We’ve got the answers!
1. My lower back aches when I’m performing dumbbell deadlifts.
What can I do?
To avoid back pain during this exercise, make sure you aren’t rounding your lower back, that your core is braced, and you aren’t trying to lift weights that are too heavy for you.
Only lift a heavier weight if you have perfect form.
You could also try rack pull or block pull deadlifts as they tend to put less stress on your lower back than deadlifts from the floor.
Full Body Dumbbell Workout Circuit With Dumbbell Deadlifts
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2. Do I have to place the dumbbells outside my feet for dumbbell deadlifts?
While you can do dumbbell deadlifts with the weights by your sides, you can also do them with the dumbbells in front of your feet, just as you would for a traditional deadlift.
3. Is this a leg exercise or a back exercise?
Deadlifts fall into both these categories as they involve your legs and your back.
Because of this, some exercises include them in their back workouts, while others do them as part of their leg workouts.
Wherever you do them, this exercise deserves to be a part of your strength training workouts.
4. Does it matter what type of dumbbells I use for dumbbell deadlifts?
Not really – use what you have got.
Dumbbells with larger diameter plates will lift the handles a little higher off the floor, giving you are more forgiving starting position, but you can always raise them on blocks if they are too low.
Providing your do your deadlifts with proper form, it doesn’t matter what dumbbells you use.
5. Are dumbbell deadlifts as effective as barbell deadlifts?
Your body is made up of over 700 muscles, 206 bones, a dozen organs, and several complex systems, not to mention billions of cells.
And yet, despite this complexity, it can’t tell the difference between an expensive seven-foot Olympic barbell and a couple of cheap, rusty dumbbells!
Because of this, dumbbell deadlifts are just as effective as barbell deadlifts.
Barbells are easier to load with heavy weights, which makes them a little easier to use but, if you aren’t a weightlifter or powerlifter, that doesn’t really matter.
The advantages of the dumbbell deadlift are all but identical to conventional deadlift benefits, so don’t think you are missing out by only using a pair of dumbbells.
Best Fat Burning Workout – Dumbbells Only – Including The Dumbbell Deadlift
Dumbbell Deadlift – Wrapping Up
Deadlifts are a highly beneficial exercise for women’s and men’s health.
Not only do they work your entire posterior chain, but they also teach you how to safely lift heavy objects off the floor without rounding your lower back.
If you aren’t doing this exercise yet, it’s time to add it to your workouts.
You’ll soon start to feel and see its benefits.
Do you wonder whether you should focus on Barbell or Dumbbell training?
Then this article – Barbell vs Dumbbell: Which is Better for Strength & Fitness will answer this age-old debate.
Also, now that you know dumbbell deadlifts will build strength for your body’s major muscle groups, similar to conventional deadlifts, see why deadlifts are so effective for body transformation:
- 7 Greatest Deadlift Muscles Worked That Can Change Your Life
- 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast
- 27 Sensational Ways How Deadlifts Change Your Body
- 10 Compound Dumbbell Exercises + Get Lean Fast Workout
- The Best Dumbbell Chest Workout at Home; No Bench Needed
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: Why and How to Do This Important Exercise
- 30 Minute Dumbbell Chest Workout for Beginners
- 5 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without a Bench + Workout
- How to Deadlift Like a Boss In 5 Simple Steps
- 12 Week Deadlift Program for Beginners in Fitness or Powerlifting
- 5 Best Deadlift Shoes to Get the Most out of Every Single Rep in 2023
¹ Grip Strength as an Indicator of Health-Related Quality of Life in Old Age—A Pilot Study – PubMed