How to Choose the Best Deadlift Variation for Your Goals

M&S Team
Written By: M&S Team
April 6th, 2018
Updated: March 30th, 2021
Categories: Articles Training
Tags: Video
In this video, The Hypertrophy Coach Joe Bennett breaks down several variations of the deadlift and how to use them in your hypertrophy workout programs.

We recently traveled down to Tampa, FL to meet up with The Hypertrophy Coach and Redcon1 Trainer Joe Bennett.

During our time with Joe, we picked his brain on a number of different training topics.

In this video, he gives us his thoughts on the many different variations of the deadlift and when to use them within your own workout programs.

Are you using the right one to reach your goals?

What is the Difference between Conventional & Sumo?

There are a lot of questions centered around what’re the differences between a conventional and sumo deadlift.

The first question you have to ask yourself is: What is the reason you’re performing deadlifts?

If you’re looking for all around muscle development, then conventional deadlifting is going to be your go to. But, if you’re looking for something that focuses a little more on the adduction motion and the muscles that are involved, sumo deadlift is going to be your best bet.

1. Conventional Deadlift

If you look closely at someone who is set up to perform the conventional deadlift and examine the joints involved you’ll notice a decent amount of knee flexion, which is why your quads will do a lot of the work.

They’re also in a hip flexed position, so you’ll work the glutes and hamstrings a lot as well.

2. Sumo Deadlift

If you look closely at someone who is set up in a sumo stance deadlift and examine those same joints involved, you can see the knees aren’t as bent and the hips aren’t as flexed.

The trainee is in a far more opened position, which allows for a slightly greater range of motion.

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From a hypertrophy stand point, it’s important to know which muscles you are working with each variation and pick the one that targets those muscle groups better.

From a pure strength and powerlifting standpoint, it’s important to experiment with both variations to figure out which exercises allows you to move more weight from point A to point B.

3. Romanian Deadlift

Moving on to an RDL, the main difference between this variation and other deadlift variations is the knee is staying fixed. This forces all of the motion to come from the hips.

From a muscularity standpoint, your hamstrings will be in a fully lengthen position while slightly involving the glutes. Given the fixed knee, the RDL takes the quads completely out of the equation.

4. Trap Bar Deadlift

The main difference when using a trap bar is you eliminate having a bar dictating how far forward your shins can go. This allows your knees and shins to go as far forward as you’d like, making the exercise more quad dominant.

The trap bar deadlift, for most people, is going to be somewhere between a conventional deadlift and a squat.

Wrap Up

Out of all of the deadlift variations covered, one is not necessarily superior to any of the others.

From a muscularity stand point, it’s about finding the right variation that targets the muscle groups you are trying to work and grow.

From a strength stand point, it’s about finding the right variation for your body type that allows you to move the most weight possible and mastering it.