This is another gym favourite and quite simply irreplaceable. The deadlift is the go-to for building power and training your posterior chain. However, due to its popularity, you might find yourself without a platform to deadlift on.
Now, it might be harder to replicate the effectiveness of a deadlift, but our alternatives are a great way to skip the queue and work the lower back and posterior chain muscles without wasting your time in an already busy gym.
1. Single-Leg Deadlift
Now yes this is still a deadlift. However, it allows for some isolation in the movement too. It creates better synergy in the hip hinge movement which is useful for balance and helping to prevent any weaknesses in the movement.
- Stand with both feet under hips.
- Shift your weight to the right leg, keeping a bend in the knee.
- Begin to drive your left foot back whilst hinging at the hip in and slow and controlled manner.
- Keep going until you get parallel with the floor then drive back up by pushing your pelvis forward and bringing your left leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat this for your other leg.
2. Hip bridge
The hip bridge is another barbell exercise that primarily targets the glutes but also hits the quads, core, and hamstrings. You can add a resistance band around your quads and push outwards while performing the exercise to make it harder but for a beginner, the exercise alone will be enough to stimulate.
- Sit with your upper back against a padded box – a bench will also work but ensure the edge doesn’t cause undue discomfort. Place the loaded barbell over your waist so that you are sitting under it.
- Bend your knees and drive your heels into the ground. Contract your glutes hard and use your waist to lift the loaded barbell off the ground.
- Contract hard at the top and lower the weight back to the ground.
The back extension specifically targets the lower back and core. Like all bodyweight exercises, it’s often neglected but the back extension should be a staple piece of any serious training programme – add these in, bodyweight only, at the beginning of your workout to prime the posterior chain for work. Include them at the end with added weight as a supplementary exercise to your main lifts and you’re good to go.
- Lie flat on the floor with your head facing forward.
- Lift your arms and legs off the floor at the same time around 10-15cm forming a curve in your body.
- Pause at this point before slowly, controlled, returning to the start position. This is where your core keeps you steady.
Hint: To load the exercise with weight, you can hold a plate in your hands or a barbell across your back – the principles remain the same. Stay in control throughout the whole movement and do not bend your back.
The muscles that the deadlift target can be targeted via other exercises. The single-leg deadlift and hip bridge allow heavy loads on the glutes and hamstrings, while the back extension specifically targets the smaller – but no less important – muscles responsible for stabilising the spine. Incorporating these exercises into your programme ensures you are on the way to building that bulletproof back and achieving your fitness goals.