There are so many reasons why you can be looking for an alternative to the deadlift to train the hinge movement pattern. We discuss both the benefits of using alternatives to the deadlift and the situations where it is either required or advised to do so. We have put the 10 exercises provided into specific categories to ensure you are using them in the correct circumstance.
No spam – just thoughtful training advice
Changing your programming can and should be fun. It’s what keeps being in the gym interesting, setting new goals, trying to max out new variations of the deadlift. If you’ve been a consistent deadlifter for an extended period of time then you will know that going to the gym and going through the motions isn’t going to get you anywhere. Through adding variety we can create excitement and increase training intensity. I rotate through the deadlift, sumo deadlift and hex bar deadlift in order to keep my training stimulus novel. Through changing the deadlift variation I am able to constantly be working my hinge, whilst keeping training interesting and fun.
Adaptive resistance is a principle discussed often by juggernaut training systems , that outlines the importance of changing exercises after we have spent a long time working on them. When we use an exercise for very long periods of time, our adaptation to the stimulus will slow down, hence the name adaptive resistance.
When trying to maintain physical qualities, it can be useful to use an alternative to the lift we use consistently throughout the year. This is because you can become very attached to specific numbers on certain lifts and it can feel demotivating to lift lighter weights on that lift. A personal example for me is the deadlift, when I am training for a marathon I will switch from a hex bar deadlift as I am less attached to my numbers on this lift, so training lighter on this lift is not as demotivating. It sounds a little ridiculous but it can effect your sessions a great deal.
Using an alternative lift when doing a deload (a period of training at a lower intensity) can be a great way to make deloads slightly more interesting. Most of us who love training are not huge fans of deloads so finding techniques like changing the deadlift to an alternative can be an excellent option. It can also help us accept using lighter weights for the same reason discussed above.
If you are not skilled enough in the hinge movement then finding an alternative can be a great option. Learning the hinge movement (the deadlift is a hinge movement) can be a very challenging process, made even more difficult when starting with the deadlift. Using alternatives to the deadlift is the best option when learning to hinge and the deadlift should only be attempted once you are competent at the hinge.
These exercises would replace the deadlift that is placed at the beginning of a session. They are also very complex, extremely taxing exercises that are perfect for building strength in the entire body.
Unfortunately we do not currently have the hex bar deadlift in our movement library. I had to add it to this list as it is probably the best alternative to the deadlift for general population individuals (not powerlifters). Just be aware to use it as a hinge movement and not a squat exercise if you are trying to use it as a deadlift alternative.
Secondary alternatives will provide slightly less taxing movements that work similar muscles to the deadlift by moving through the hinge movement pattern. They provide less of a potent stimulus and are much easier to perform for higher repetitions.
These include both bands and sliders, which are the staples of any travel training set up. This is for those who are looking to work the same muscles as the deadlift but do not have access to a barbell or free weights.
The title really speaks for itself, these exercises are looking to provide stimulus to the same muscles of the deadlift without equipment. Obviously this is impossible to do perfectly, so we can do our best with bodyweight exercises that stimulate the posterior chain.
These exercises are simple exercises that are technically less challenging than the deadlift but can help build strength and muscle mass. These exercise are some of the most effective for beginners who are taking their first steps in the hinge movement.
We have 89 hinge exercises in our movement library and they can all be considered in some way an alternative for the deadlift. So if you still have not found what you are looking for then have a deep dive into our movement library.
If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.
This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.