16 Squat and Deadlift Variations You Should Know About
Squat and deadlifts are two of the most dominant compound exercises. These two exercises are also some of the most functional movements. You’ll find these exercises in almost every kind of training discipline be it bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit or any other.
Performing the vanilla squats and deadlifts can cause you to hit a plateau. A great way to break through the glass ceiling is to try new variations of the exercises. There are enough variations of these exercises to keep you entertained for months.
Squat and Deadlift Variations You Should Know About
Back squats are the conventional and most common type of squats. Based on your mobility, you could perform all types of squats with a high or low bar position. In the high bar position, the barbell sits on your traps, and in the low bar position, the barbell is placed on your shoulder blades.
In the front squats, you place the barbell across the front side of your shoulders. The front squats are quad dominant as you need to maintain an upright position throughout the exercise.
If you’re don’t have the mobility and are not comfortable going ass-to-grass in the conventional squats, the box squats can help you by squatting to the desired depth and develop explosive strength in the squat movement.
Sumo squats are wide-stance squats which primarily target the hams, glutes and inner thighs. The range of motion while performing the sumo squats is considerably smaller as compared to the conventional squats.
Narrow Stance Squats
Narrow stance squats are the opposite of sumo squats. In this variation, you have to place your feet next to each other. Doing so targets your outer thighs and helps in building the outer quad sweep.
Frankenstein squats are an advanced level squat variation. To perform the Frankenstein squat, you need to extend your arms straight forward and place the barbell on the “shelf” created in your shoulders. The Frankenstein squat teaches you the proper positioning of both the bar and your body during the clean and front squat.
If you’re suffering from a back injury and are not comfortable performing the barbell squats, the goblet squats can be a lifesaver. Hold a dumbbell next to your chest while performing the squats to target your quads.
Zercher squat involves holding the barbell between the crook of your elbow while squatting. The Zercher squat increases glute and quad activation. It improves the front squat and even works the biceps.
Conventional deadlifts are the most common type of deadlifts which involves standing with a shoulder width stance and holding the barbell with a shoulder-wide snatch or a mixed hand grip.
Sumo deadlifts have the same feet placement as the sumo squats. The sumo deadlifts take your legs out of the equation and primarily focus on the upper back. Hold the barbell with a mixed hand grip while performing the sumo deadlifts.
Deficit deadlifts are for the more advanced lifters as it includes standing on an elevated surface (weight plates or a hard aerobic stepper) while performing the deadlifts. Standing on the weight plates increases the range of motion which makes the movement harder than the conventional deadlifts.
Rack Pulls Deadlifts
In the rack pull deadlifts, you lift the bar off the safety pins in a squat rack. This variation of deadlifts is great for people who have back problems and can’t perform any other type of deadlifts. You can adjust the range of motion of the movement by setting the height of the safety pins.
Trap Bar Deadlifts
Trap bar deadlifts target the traps and the upper back. In the trap or hex bar deadlifts, you hold the barbell at your sides which makes the movement easier. You should be able to move heavier weights while performing the hex bar deadlifts.
Romanian deadlifts or stiff-legged deadlifts target the hamstrings. Stand with a barbell in hands and your knees locked at a slight angle. Push your hips back as you lower the barbell and contract your hamstrings. Pause at the bottom for a second and return to the starting position.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts
In the snatch grip deadlifts, your hands take on a wide grip where they are almost touching the sides of the weight plates on the barbell. The snatch deadlift is a type of Olympic lift which mainly works the hamstrings. It acts to strengthen the pull of the snatch.
Some people are not comfortable performing the deadlifts with a barbell. The dumbbells can improve the range of motion and the resulting pump as you have better mobility with them as compared to the barbell.
Have you tried all the variations of the squats and deadlifts mentioned above?