Deadlift is a staple part of many exercise routines. You have probably tried them yourself. No doubt this will leave you wondering why you should do the dumbbell deadlift instead of with a barbell.

dumbbell deadliftThe answer is simple. The Dumbbell deadlift will improve your grip strength and increase the engagement of your lats, scapular and your unilateral control much more effectively than a barbell deadlift will do.

There are actually two types of dumbbell deadlift; the stiff leg and the classic. This tutorial will talk you through the right method of doing both these variants.

The dumbbell deadlift is designed to strengthen your legs and your back. Specifically, you will feel your glutes working, along with your quads and hamstrings.

The stiff-legged Dumbbell deadlift will place more emphasis on your hamstrings.

To really ensure you're working your muscles as hard as possible, choose a heavy weight that you are comfortable with. You will not be able to lift as much with dumbbells as you can with a barbell. You should bear this in mind when choosing your weights.

You need plenty of room when undertaking the dumbbell deadlift; this means 3 or 4 feet of space all around you. Of course, because you are doing this exercise with dumbbells it is possible to undertake this exercise virtually anywhere.

In this tutorial and related video, I'll show you the proper technique of the exercise, so you can complete it with confidence and safety.

Completing the exercise properly will mean the best results for you, while avoiding the potential of injury.

We have a full video tutorial below to show you the fine form points of the dumbbell deadlift.

Also, if you need something to print off and take to the gym, you can find our step-by-step exercise walkthrough further down this page.

Dumbbell Deadlift – Step-by-step technique

    • Step 1: Spinal alignment is very important in this exercise. You need to start with your feet shoulder width apart. You need to be relaxed and stood straight; not leaning forward or back while your weight is evenly balanced.
    • Step 2: Bend down and position the dumbbells on each side of you. The grip should be in line with the middle of your foot. This will ensure the weight is distributed evenly through the center of your foot.
    • Step 3: You now need to assume the starting position. For this, grasp the dumbbells in each hand and lower your bottom to the floor while raising your chest. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your back angled upward.
    • Step 4: The weights will almost be coming off the floor at this point. Now you simply need to push down through your feet and move into a standing position. Your arms remain straight and will now be at your sides; just below your waist. Squeeze your glutes as you straighten and grip the weights tightly.
    • Step 5: Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position by bending your knees; the dumbbells should just touch the ground. Take a deep breath and push back up again.
    • Step 6: The stiff leg deadlift has a different starting position. The dumbbells need to be in front of your feet; one dumbbell over each foot. Your legs are only slightly bent for this starting position; your back should be flat and you should feel the tension in your hamstrings.
    • Step 7: Take a deep breath and slowly move into a standing position. Again, move slowly down but ensure your knees are bent just a little; your legs should be nearly straight; 15 or 20 degrees is perfect.
    • Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 for the prescribed number of reps.

** Pro Tip #1: This is a primary compound movement. You should use dumbbells in the 80-100 pound range; if you are able to lift these without injuring yourself. Ideally, complete 6 – 8 reps with 2 – 3 sets; you can include them in any exercise routine.

** Pro Tip #2: Adjustable dumbbells are best; you will be able to add weight as your strength improves. This will ensure you continue to challenge your body and build muscle.

** Pro Tip #3: Use your arms just like cables. They must remain straight and tight throughout the entire exercise.

Check out the bent-over dumbbell row or visit our complete exercise library on the Fit Father Project YouTube channel.


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* We hoped you enjoyed this article. Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program and that this is not medical advice – just well-researched info. Please see our disclaimer at the bottom of this website. Exercise intelligently and safely at your own risk.