The deadlift is a great strength training move that targets a number of muscle groups at once. But what are the best deadlifts for men over 40?
As a dad in your 40s, working out as you get older is important for so many reasons.
Exercise and weight lifting increases strength, improves endurance, and promotes healthy living.
Plus, strength training builds lean muscle mass which improves your body composition.
This in turn increases your calorie-burning potential so that you can maintain a healthy weight and be in the best shape of your life.
Lifting weights is essential for guys that want to maintain muscle mass.
As men age, lean body mass decreases, something known as sarcopenia.
Studies have shown that this appears to be more from muscle disuse rather than just aging alone, and can begin as early as age 30!
In fact, individuals who are inactive start losing up to 3-5% of their muscle mass per decade after this age.
However, regular exercise can help you maintain muscle mass.
Deadlifts for men over 40 strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and quads.
In addition, you will also activate muscles in the core, upper back, and deltoids.
There are several different deadlifts for men over 40 that target your muscle groups from different angles.
This gives you a way to utilize different types of deadlifts to work your entire lower body.
In addition, you can use different types of equipment for deadlifts.
While many people associate performing deadlifts with a conventional barbell or hex bar, you can also do different deadlifts for men over 40 with just a set of dumbbells.
This has several advantages. For one, you can do deadlifts even if you don’t have a barbell or weight plates.
Plus, if you have low back issues you can modify deadlifts and use a hex bar or dumbbells to take pressure off of your lumbar spine and avoid injuries.
So on your next leg day, try out some of these deadlifts for men over 40 to spice up your lower body workout!
Learn why you should never skip leg day!
The Best Deadlifts for Men Over 40
Conventional Barbell Deadlifts
The deadlift is a great exercise that works a number of muscles at once, making it ideal to include in a full-body workout.
As mentioned above, the deadlift targets the hamstrings, glutes, quads, core, upper back, and deltoids.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and mid-foot under the barbell.
- Hinge forward at your hips and grasp the bar with your hands just outside of your knees.
- Take the slack out of the bar by slightly pulling up on the bar until it makes contact with the weights on the ends.
- Then drive your heels into the floor and explode up by using your legs until you’re standing with your hips fully extended.
- As you come up be sure to pull the bar up close to your shins.
- Then return the bar to the floor by slowly moving your hips back while bending your legs and lowering the bar.
- While you are technically pulling the bar up off the ground, make sure you are initiating this movement by contracting your glutes and hamstrings and pushing off of the floor.
- Lower the bar to the floor and repeat.
- Aim for three sets of 8-10 reps.
Your lower back must stay neutral to avoid injury. Rounding it during deadlifts puts you at risk of injuring your back.
Focus on form, not weight, when you first start doing this movement to avoid injury.
Gradually increase your weight as you perfect your form and gain strength.
Check out this tutorial on deadlifting for beginners!
Your form here will be similar to a traditional deadlift, except you will stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width distance with your feet turned out slightly.
You may need to use a lighter weight than with a traditional deadlift because you're adding arm work into it.
Unlike a traditional deadlift where the weight begins on the floor, in the Romanian deadlift, the move starts with you standing while holding the weight.
The Romanian deadlift targets your hamstrings and glutes to a greater degree than standard deadlifts.
Romanian deadlifts are also a great option if men that have low back issues.
For example, one study found that the erector spinae, a group of back stabilizing muscles in the low back, were less activated when performing Romanian deadlifts when compared with a traditional deadlift.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart while holding a barbell or (dumbbell in each hand) in front of your thighs.
- Hinge forward at the hips and lower the dumbbells in front of your shins, keeping them close to your body.
- Once the weights go past your knees, drive through your heels to extend your hips and knees and return to a standing position.
- Aim for three sets of 10-12 reps.
How does the sumo deadlift compare to the conventional variation?
Similar to the Romanian deadlift, the stiff-legged deadlift puts more emphasis on the hamstrings than a conventional deadlift.
In addition, stiff-legged deadlifts tend to work the lower back muscles to a greater degree.
The stiff-leg deadlift, as you might expect, involves less bending of the knee, and so increases the work the glutes have to do along with the hamstring.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a barbell in an overhand grip (palms facing you).
- Bend at your hips and lower the barbell, keeping your back straight.
- Lower until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, and then slowly reverse the move to stand back up.
- Keep the bar close to your body throughout the exercise.
This deadlift may seem very similar to a Romanian deadlift — and it is!
However, when performing the Romanian deadlift, you should have your knees fixed in a bent position.
This gives you more range of motion and engages the lower back and hamstrings to a lesser extent.
On the other hand, with the stiff-legged deadlift, you are in a fully extended position at the start, and should only let the knees slightly bend to the point at which hamstring and lower back tension are at maximum.
This will put more emphasis on the hamstring and lower back.
Learn the proper dumbbell deadlift technique to get the most out of your workout.
Single-Leg Deadlifts With Dumbbells
Single leg exercises are a great way to focus on any muscle imbalances between your right and left sides.
The single-leg deadlift will force you to engage all of your muscles on each side in isolation so you can’t compensate for weaknesses with the contralateral side.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart while you hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the front of your legs.
- Hinge forward at your hips as you lift your left leg behind you.
- Your body should be parallel to the floor from your head to your left foot with the dumbbells hanging down.
- Then engage your glutes and hamstring to come back to the standing position.
- Aim for 10-12 reps.
- Then switch sides and repeat.
Kettlebells are another piece of exercise equipment that can be utilized to perform deadlifts.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent as you hold a kettlebell in front of your thighs.
- Hinge at your hips and push your butt back as you lower your torso and the weight toward the ground.
- Keep your back flat and shoulders back. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement.
- Then push through your heels to stand up straight as you keep your core engaged.
- Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes.
- Then repeat for 8-10 reps.
Learn how to do a single-leg Romanian deadlift with dumbbells.
Hex Bar Deadlifts
A hex bar is a hexagon-shaped bar that you stand in the middle of.
It’s sometimes also referred to as a “trap bar,” since many weight lifters do shrugs using this bar as well.
Using a hex bar for deadlifts is a great option for guys with low back issues, or who want to avoid putting too much stress on the lumbar spine.
Not only this, but using a hex bar can actually help you generate more power.
For instance, a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that when test weight lifters performed a hex bar deadlift, they were able to lift a heavier one rep max than when they performed a traditional barbell deadlift.
In addition, the lifters produced significantly greater peak force, peak velocity, and peak power values.
This study also demonstrated that the hex bar deadlift placed less stress on the lower back.
- For the hex bar deadlift, stand in the center of the hex bar with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at your hips as you grab the handles of the hex bar.
- Raise your hips up slightly, keeping your back flat, to create tension in the back of your legs as you would with a traditional deadlift.
- Drive your heels through the ground as you stand straight up and extend your hips.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the lift.
- Lower the weight to the ground slowly.
- Repeat for 8-10 reps.
When performing any weight lifting move for the first time, you want to start with a low weight until you perfect the technique.
As your form improves, you can gradually increase the weight as you gain strength in the lower body and core.
You can also estimate your one-rep max to help determine a good starting point for deadlifts.
This also goes for any other weight-lifting exercise.
Calculating a one-rep max is very important for deadlifts since you really need to focus on form, and not so much on using a heavy weight, when you first start doing this exercise.
This is important to avoid injury.
You can then lift a percentage of your one-rep max until you perfect the technique, and gradually increase the weight you are using.
One way to estimate your one-rep max is to use the Brzycki formula.
In this calculation, the one-rep max is based on the total number of reps lifted while using a lighter weight.
So in the case of deadlifts, you would perform the specific exercise with a lighter weight until fatigue sets in or you can’t perform another rep without your form breaking down.
You then use the weight and reps in the calculation below.
The reason for using this calculation instead of just attempting to lift a heavy weight is to avoid injuries.
Attempting a lift with heavy weight by simply trying to “guess” your one-rep max can place an unsafe amount of stress and load on muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones
For this calculation:
1RM= Weight Lifted x (36/(37- number of reps performed))
Some of the formulas for one rep max have been found to underestimate the deadlift one-rep max.
However, this is still a good starting point when beginning a strength training program.
The deadlift is one of the ultimate leg exercises to build strength and increase muscle mass in the lower body.
Plus, deadlifts also force you to engage your core while also targeting your back and deltoids.
This makes deadlifts a great total body weightlifting move for men over 40.
Building a strong core and lower body is important for all guys, but even more so for men as they age.
Deadlifts can sometimes be intimidating, or you may have heard horror stories of guys that have injured themselves while trying to perform them.
However, with the proper technique and appropriate amount of weight used, the deadlift is one of the best exercises to add to your workout arsenal.
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This proven "Old School Muscle Program For Guys 40+" combines the “old school” bodybuilding secrets with the “new school” science… to produce muscle & strength building results fast.
Only for guys 40+ who want to build muscle.
If you're frustrated with stubborn belly fat, failed diets, and time-consuming workouts, this is the answer you’ve been looking for…
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on deadlifts for men over 40.