The deadlift is a huge compound lift that trains your whole posterior chain, AKA all of the muscles on your backside. It’s considered by many to be one of the best exercises to train your hips, glutes, and your hamstrings.
But what makes the deadlift such a great exercise to use to strengthen and build your butt muscles? Let’s start with the fact that the primary muscles that work in this exercise are your glutes and your hamstrings. Most of the load goes on them. Making it a great exercise to target your whole butt area.
Also, it’s a huge lift. By that I mean it can be performed either by using really heavy weight, or by using very high volumes. Both are great for building, toning, and increasing the strength of your glutes.
There are also a bunch of different deadlift variations to choose from. There are literally dozens of modifications and versions of this lift. Each modified for a specific purpose. In this article, we are going to take a look at all the deadlift variations that are best and most effective for targeting and training your glutes.
7 best deadlift variations for glutes
1. The Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is hands down one of the best exercises to target, build, and strengthen your glutes. It’s one of the more simple and one of the most popular variations of the classical deadlift.
In my honest opinion, it’s the best deadlift for glutes and one of the most effective hamstrings and glutes exercise out there. It helps you somewhat isolate your glutes and hamstrings, and it lets you load them with some serious weight (which is great both for strength and for muscle hypertrophy). It will also help you increase your hip mobility and develop your hip-hinge movement.
While performing the RDL you have three options. First is that you can start by deadlifting the weight from the floor just like you would normally, and then start the RDL movement from there. The second option is that you could use a squat rack or some other kind of a platform to grip the barbell from. And finally, the third option is to start the RDL from the floor. Now, this requires a fair amount of flexibility and mobility in your legs and hips. In the exercise guide below, we will focus on the second option.
- Approach the rack where your barbell is resting. Grasp the bar with a double overhand grip at about your shoulder-width.
- Next, lift the bar off the rack and take a few steps. Make sure you have enough room to move.
- Start by engaging and tightening up your midsection and your core. After that, tighten your lats and upper back.
- While keeping your legs straight, push your hips backward. Let your upper body naturally hinge forward and lower the weight.
- Keep your back flat and your head in a neutral position for the entire exercise.
- Lower the weight until your upper body is parallel to the ground or until you feel a stronger stretch in your hamstrings.
- Hold it for a second, and then bring the weight back up by pushing your hips forward.
2. The Landmine Deadlift
The landmine deadlift is a fantastic variation to use to target and train your glutes. It’s a good alternative for beginners, and it’s often the go-to lift for women. So what makes it such a great deadlift for glutes? Well, for starters, it’s one of the easiest and beginner-friendliest variations of the conventional lift. Because the barbell travels in a fixed path of motion in this exercise, the weight will always follow a predefined path. Which means it’s hard to perform this exercise the wrong way.
Also, the exercise is better for your spine and lower back compared to the conventional version. In the landmine variation, you have a slightly more upright position throughout the lift. That means it will place less stress on your spine.
Now, this exercise is not only an easier alternative to the conventional DL, it’s also a good exercise to target and train your glutes more effectively. The landmine deadlift allows you to really lean into the lift. And by that, I mean literally lean forward into the weight. Doing so will let you drive through your toes, which will help you target and train your glutes more.
- For the first thing, set up your landmine rig. Either use a specific landmine tool for it or place one end of the bar in a corner.
- Now load the end that is pointing towards you with plates.
- Stand in front of the loaded end and take a shoulder-width stance whit your toes pointing outwards.
- Push your hips back and grasp the barbell from its collar.
- Engage your core and upper back.
- With a flat back, start to lift the weight up.
- Lean into it a little and drive through your toes.
- Extend your hips and knees. Once up, hold for a second and then lower it back down.
3. Split stance Romanian deadlift
The split stance Romanian deadlift is a good variation of the RDL that will help you target and train your glutes and your hamstrings even more. It’s a more challenging exercise than the original, but it’s a very effective way to strengthen and pack some size on your glutes.
The exercise is performed whit a short split stance, which adds a nice balancing element to it. Thanks to that, your stabilizer muscles in your core and your hip muscles will need to work extra hard to help you keep your balance and your form.
It will also help you isolate your glutes and hamstrings more. But do keep in mind that it’s still a compound exercise. Also, it can be done by using high volumes and pretty heavy loads.
- Stand in front of your weight (either a barbell or a set of dumbbells).
- Sit your hips down and deadlift the weight up just as you would normally.
- When you have lifted the weight up, it’s time to take a split stance. So take a short step backward with one of your legs and a short step forward with the other. The distance between your legs should be about 1 to 2 feet.
- Lean your body weight on the leading leg.
- Next, tighten your midsection.
- While keeping your legs straight, push your hips back and let your torso naturally drop or hinge forward with the weight.
- Keep your back flat for the entire exercise.
- Lower the weight until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings or until your torso is nearly parallel with the ground.
- Hold this position for a second and then reverse the movement by pushing your hips forward and extending them.
4. Sumo Deadlift
The sumo stance deadlift is one of the most widely used deadlift variations out there. It’s actually even preferred by many athletes and lifters over the original version. And for a good reason. Many people find the sumo stance version to be a much easier lift, and they can actually pull more weight up this way. It has a lot to do with the lifter’s height, body type, his/her overall build, and mobility.
The sumo lift is also a much safer and lower back friendlier option. Thanks to the wide starting stance, your upper body will be in a much more upright position compared to the conventional version. That means it will place a lot less stress on your spine and back, which is great for anyone who has a bad back.
But what makes it a great deadlift to use to target and train your glutes? Well, thanks to the foot placement and your hip/knee angle in the exercise, the sumo stance variation will target your glutes more and to a greater extent.
- Assume an extra-wide stance called the sumo stance. Your feet should be placed wider than your shoulders. Point your toes outwards at a 45-degree angle.
- Make sure the barbell is positioned so it runs over your shoelaces (the middle part of your feet).
- Push your hips back and squat down.
- Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip. You can use a double overhand or a mixed grip (whichever you prefer).
- Engage and brace your core muscles.
- Push and drive through your feet and lift the barbell up.
- Make sure your back stays flat and your head is in a neutral position.
- Extend your hips and knees and lock them. Hold at the top and then return the barbell to the floor.
5. Single leg deadlift
The single-leg deadlift is another great exercise to use to target your glutes. It’s effective both with or without weights. The exercise has all the benefits the normal deadlift does, such as its a compound lif,t and it trains and strengthens your posterior chain.
Because the exercise is done while balancing on a single leg, it adds a nice balancing element to the lift. Keeping your balance will require your glutes to work extra hard, thus engaging them more and training them more effectively.
- Stand with your feet under your hips.
- Hold your weight in front of your body (barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells).
- Plant your supportive foot into the ground. And shift your weight on to it.
- Engage and brace your entire midsection. Tighten your upper back and lats.
- Start to drive your other feet behind yourself, and at the same time, start to hinge your torso forwards from your waist.
- Lift your other leg completely up and extend it while lowering your torso until it’s nearly parallel with the floor.
- Hold for a second and reverse the movement.
6. Bulgarian Deadlift
The Bulgarian deadlift might look somewhat strange and awkward at first glance, but as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving. It’s actually a super effective exercise and a great deadlift to target and train your glutes.
The exercise itself is a little bit more challenging than the conventional deadlift because it places the lifter in a somewhat awkward starting position that requires a little getting used to. The exercise is performed on a single leg while you rest your other leg on an elevated surface behind you (at about knee high). The exercise can be done from the floor or whit stiff legs.
So what makes this such a great deadlift for glutes? Well, the exercise targets mainly your glute and hamstrings muscles. Also, because it’s performed on a single leg, it requires your hips (and your glutes) to work much harder to help you maintain your form, posture, and your balance.
- Stand in front of a bench whit a few feet between you and it.
- Place a barbell in front of yourself. The bar should run over the middle part of your feet.
- Next, rest one of your legs on the bench behind you.
- Now push your hips back and hinge your upper body forward until you can reach the barbell.
- Grasp the barbell with a shoulder-width grip (preferably a double overhand grip).
- Engage your core and roll your shoulders slightly back to help you engage your lats and upper back as well.
- Next, keep your back flat and start lifting the weight up. Drive through your foot and extend your hip and knees.
- Pause at the top for a second and then lower the weight back down. Be sure to work both of your legs equally.
7. Deficit deadlift
The deficit deadlift is an advanced and quite a challenging deadlift variation. It is performed by standing on an elevated platform (usually anywhere between one and four inches high), most commonly pumper or other weight lifting plates. The idea here is to elevate yourself relative to the barbell to make the path the barbell has to move longer and to get a deeper starting position.
The deeper starting position is exactly what makes this a great deadlift for your glutes. Because of the deep or low starting position of this exercise, your glutes will have to work extra hard to get the bar moving from the ground and to perform the hip-hinge movement. Also, because of the increased range of motion, your glutes (and other muscles) will be under pressure for a longer period of time. Meaning they will be stressed and loaded more, which is great for both strength and muscle building.
But before you add this deadlift variation into your glutes training routine, you should keep in mind that it’s an advanced lift, and it requires to have a really good understanding of the conventional version to be performed right.
- Start by preparing your platform on which you will be standing on. Start with a one-inch platform and work your way up from there, if necessary. Place it in front of your barbell.
- Stand on the platform with a hip-width stance.
- Push your hips back and hinge your upper body forward so you could grasp the barbell.
- Grasp the bar at about shoulder-width.
- Drop your hips down.
- Engage your entire midsection and your upper back.
- Make sure your back is flat, and start to lift the weight up.
- Drive through your feet.
- Fully extend your hips and your knees. Hold for a second and then lower the barbell back to the floor in a controlled manner.
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