Deadlift Variations


By: Joe Riggio



Friday at 5:50am


If you want to deadlift big weight, you’ll need to mix it up.  You can’t just do regular off-the-floor deads every single time.  Your body will stop adapting and you WILL stop making progress.  At Varsity House we almost never do a regular straight-bar off-the-floor deadlift.  Most of the time we so a variation that helps the athlete improve a weak point in the lift.  Here are a few of my favorite deadlift variations that you can rotate into your normal routine to keep your body guessing and keep hitting PRs! 


Sumo Deadlifts – This is my favorite variation.  It has the best translation to sports performance for athletes as it targets the hips and gluts a lot more than a conventional dead.  Stand as wide as you can while still being able to sit into a deep squat position at the set-up.  Grip should be inside of your legs. 


Rack Pulls – Think of this as a partial deadlift.  Set the bar in the rack to a Hight 1-2’’ below where you usually get stuck.  Grip and rip!  We generally work the area from mid shin to 2’’ above the knee.  Try different positions and keep hitting PRs.


Isometric Rack Pulls – Isometrics are like the “coelacanth” of the strength & conditioning world.  Everyone has heard of them but nobody every see’s anyone doing them…Except us!   Here you place the bar in the rack and pull against the immovable pins and pull as hard as you can for 3-8sec.  This will develop a ton of strength within 15-degress of the pin position, but more importantly it will teach your athletes how the strain hard. 


Deficit Deadlifts – These are a harder version of a conventional deadlift. Standing on a 25-45lb bumper plate, get your hips down and pull.  This forces you to be strong out of the hole and off the ground.  We especially like to do these with accommodating resistance like chains and that will off-load some weight at the bottom allowing you to accelerate through the movement.     




Deadlift Day Workout:




5x50y sled pull @2plates


4x25y sled pull throughs @2plates


Standard mobility series




3x10 KB Swing


3x10 KB Goblet Sqt


2x20y OH Lunge


2x15 Rev Hyper


2x15 45-Degree Hyper




8x5sec Isometric Rack Pull


8x2 Sumo Speed Pull @60% + 2-Chains


Rest 2min between rounds




Work Up to heavy Deficit Deadlift off of a 25lb bumper plate.




10x10 Banded Pull Throughs


10x10 Banded Leg Curls




5x1min Weighted Planks 


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