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Dumbbell Deadlifts

What Is A Dumbbell Deadlift?

How To Do A Dumbbell Deadlift

Jump Straight To Deadlift Instructions

Dumbbells are a versatile piece of kit that can aid in learning the deadlift movement patterns, and can be used to perform various deadlift types, including conventional and sumo deadlifts as well as Romanian deadlifts and single leg deadlifts. All dumbbell deadlifts work almost every muscle group in the body, with particular focus on the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and erector spinae.

Due to their limited loading compared to barbells, dumbbells place less pressure on the lower back when deadlifting. This can help to prevent injury and makes this deadlift variation a suitable option for those who are new to deadlifting or recovering from an injury.

An added benefit of dumbbell deadlifts is that all you need are a pair of dumbbells so you can do them at home, in the gym or wherever you like! Dumbbells are an affordable piece of kit, and when using them to deadlift, they'll work your entire body!

Check out our other deadlift variations: conventional deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, rack pulls, B stance deadlifts,

Commonly Asked Questions On Dumbbell Deadlifts

Are Deadlifts With Dumbbells Effective?

Deadlifts with dumbbells are an effective way to build strength and muscle mass in the lower body. While this variation is great for any lifter, it’s a great place to start for beginners as it can help individuals to become familiar with the movement pattern with a lower risk of injury. Some people also find they have a greater mind to muscle connection using dumbbells as opposed to barbells.

We’d recommend using a combination of dumbbells and barbells in your training programme.

Are Dumbbell Deadlifts As Good As Barbell Deadlifts?

Both dumbbell deadlifts and barbell deadlifts are an effective way to strengthen the muscles in your lower body. Most people find they are unable to deadlift as much load with dumbbells as they can with a barbell, so if you're training for overall strength and power, the barbell deadlift may be a better option.

However, dumbbells can place less stress on the lower back and many people find it easier to target the lower body muscles much more effectively. If you struggle with barbell deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts may be a better option. Ultimately, we'd recommend trying both variations and seeing which you prefer and have better form with.

What Muscles Do Dumbbell Deadlifts Work?

Dumbbell deadlifts work the lower body muscles, including the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, as well as the erector spinae and core muscles.

Depending on the variation of deadlift you are performing you may target different areas. For example, a sumo deadlift has greater emphasis on the adductors and quads, whereas a Romanian deadlift will fire up the hamstrings and glutes.

Dumbbell Deadlift Tips

While dumbbell deadlifts provide less injury risk than barbell deadlifts, it’s still important to master proper form. Barbell deadlifts will start from the floor and challenge the performer to lift a dead weight off the floor.

While this can be done with dumbbells, most people find that this is too low, and they have to flex their back to reach the floor. Instead, only lower the dumbbells as far as you can without flexing your spine. Keeping your spine neutral protects the spine and ensures the correct muscles are being used in the lift.

You may be aware that a popular grip option for barbell deadlifts or single leg deadlifts is an overhand grip, known as pronated. Some lifters will also use a mixed grip, allowing one hand to be pronated and the other supinated (palm facing upwards).

If you’re choosing to dumbbell deadlift, neither of these grip options are optimal. Instead, adopt for a neutral grip so that your palms are facing each other. The neutral grip will aid balance and allow for a more effective bar path that remains close to your centre of gravity.

How To Do A Dumbbell Deadlift

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward.

    If you’re performing a conventional deadlift, hold the dumbbells by your side and adopt a shoulder width stance, toes pointed straight ahead.

    For a sumo dumbbell deadlift, hold the dumbbells in front of your body and place your feet just wider than hip width, toes externally rotated.

  2. Once you’ve found your stance position, you’ll need to adopt a neutral spine and tight core to create tension between your body, the floor, and the dumbbells. This will help you to maintain good technique throughout the lift, minimise injury and ensure the right muscles are being worked.

    To do this, straighten your spine and pin your shoulder blades back while keeping your feet planted on the floor and a tight grip on the dumbbells.

  3. Your set up is now complete and you’re ready to deadlift! Keeping the dumbbells as close to your centre of gravity as possible throughout the lift, take a deep breath in and brace your core by allowing your stomach to push outwards and your core to become rigid.

    To start the movement, push your hips back and allow the dumbbells to lower towards the floor.

    For a conventional the dumbbells should travel close to your thighs. Once the dumbbells have reached just below the knee, allow the knees to bend slightly so that the dumbbells lower closer to the floor. The dumbbells don’t need to make contact with the floor as this may cause flexion of the back.  – only lower to a comfortable position where you are still maintaining a neutral spine.

    For a sumo deadlift, the dumbbells should travel close to your centre of gravity. You may find that you can reach the floor easier with the sumo as apposed to the conventional due to the wide stance of the sumo.

  4. From the bottom position, drive up through both feet. Imagine you are pushing the ground away from you, similar to how you would when using the leg press machine. Be patient as the dumbbells start to lift up – you want to ensure your hips and knees extend at the same time.

    As the dumbbells rise, you’ll need to push your hips forward, squeezing the glutes and hamstring as you reach full lock out of the hips. Extend the legs until you’re standing tall.

  5. Before starting your next rep, you might want to reset your positioning and revise step 2 to maintain your neutral spine with the shoulder blades pinned back. You’ll also need to brace your core again.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.