Barbell Deadlifts: The King of Exercises?

The deadlift is the most simple exercise to get started with; you grab a bar and pick it up. If you already deadlift, learn how to build a bigger deadlift and watch your strength and muscle gains skyrocket.

Equipment Needed

Minimal equipment is needed for deadlifts:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

Optional equipment needed:

  • Bumper Plates
  • Collars
  • Chalk
  • Straps
  • Weight Belt

Sumo vs Conventional Form

I get questions asking which form should they use or how they read in another article that their body is better suited for one form over another.

I want you to try both forms out and give both a good at least 8 week training cycle to see which one best suits you. There are many elite athletes that have bodies better suited for sumo but pull conventional.

Sumo deadlifts are great and a popular choice for full power meet powerlifters because it helps the wear and tear on your lower back.

On the other end of the spectrum, most of the world record deadlifts are completed with a conventional stance.

Assistance Work

Once you determine which stance you would like to use as your main form, use the other form for assistance work. I personally prefer conventional even though my body is better suited for sumo because of mobility issues. I use sumo deadlifts to help with hip strength and it does carry over to my squats.

Teaching Sumo and Conventional Deadlifts

Here’s a video of Dave Tate teaching the sumo and conventional deadlift. There’s some great information here.

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Types of Grip

There are 4 main types of grip for deadlifting; double overhand, over/under, hook, and snatch.

Double overhand grip is how most people will start; bend down and grab the bar with the backs of your hand pointing at you.

Once you start deadlifting more people will start switching to over/under or hook grip. A tip to increase grip strength is to deadlift double overhand as much as you can; this will tax your grip on every lift and will build a hell of a strong grip.

Over/under or mixed grip is the most popular grip for deadlifters to use because it provides maximum grip strength with minimal pain. This grip has one palm and one back of the hand facing you. The way this grip works is if you try double overhand gripping heavy weight you will notice the bar rolls out of your hand backwards. When you are using a mix grip, each hand helps keep the bar from rolling and sliding in your hands, creating a strong leverage against the bar.

Hook grip is a painful yet arguably the most effective grip there is. The trick here is to hook your thumb around and under your hand to create the same strong leverage as your mixed grip, but using your thumb. It’s quite painful but eventually the nerve endings stop hurting so bad. This option isn’t as popular as mixed grip for most elite athletes, but there are many 900+lb deadlifters using the hook grip.

Hook Grip


There are two main types of bars, there are the standard gym bars and there are deadlift bars.

Regular gym bars don’t usually have very strong knurling on the bar so they are slick, they are rigid and don’t support a lot of weight. Most of us won’t push a regular gym bar to its limits which is around 700lbs, but once you start getting into the 500’s you will notice the bar doesn’t like that very much.

These bars are okay to train on, but once you try a deadlift bar, you won’t want to go back.

Deadlift bars are great because they offer a very strong knurling which will tear the hell out of your shins but also won’t slide out of your hands even with chalk like the regular bars will. The great thing about a deadlift bar is the collars on the ends are longer for more weight, a little longer from inner collar to inner collar for people who have a wide sumo stance, it feels thinner, and the bar is whippy. By whippy I mean the bar flexes and bends a lot easier.

Regular bars are great for everyone to use, if you are looking to compete in powerlifting and want to utilize the best equipment you can buy, purchasing a deadlift bar would be a great choice. They run around $400 and it is worth the investment if you are thinking about getting one.

Check out the video below, Eric Lilliebridge deadlifts 900 with a deadlift bar and you can see it bending while he’s setting up.

Mental Attitude

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video should explain the mental attitude you should have when deadlifting. There is no laughing and then deadlifting if you want to be able to lift heavy ass weights.

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2 thoughts on “Barbell Deadlifts: The King of Exercises?”

  1. Hi there,my name is Stuart from malawi,bn reading articles on ur site for a couple years now,i really like the stuff u bring up as it has helped me & my training buddies here quiet a lot,rly appreciate 4 sharing such useful,kp updating us.

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