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Deadlift Alternatives For Home Training

Yesterday in conversation with an online client living in the south of Germany asked me a very pertinent question. As this Covid-19 “coronavirus” takes deeper hold, more and more people will be subject to isolation, and as businesses, schools etc start to close, opportunities to get out are going to be difficult. And my client is worried because he’s just really hit his stride with the deadlift and doesn’t want to lose what he’s worked so hard for. His question? “How Can I Deadlift At Home?” I gave him a choice of three options that I’m going to detail here for you today. (I am working on the assumotion that you don’t have a lifting platform and barbell set at home, but may have a few kettlebells and other bits around the house/apartment) Option 1: Kettlebell Single Leg RDL If you’ve followed my work for any time, you will know that I’m a huge fan of this lift. It’s a single leg Romanian Deadlift, so it will blow up your hamstrings. Not only that, but by it’s nature, being on one leg, there is a hell of a lot of lateral stability that your body needs to find. And it will find it by centering the weight in the middle of the foot, by shifting the pelvis across and loading the often hard to find Glute Medius and by locking down the torso to ensure we aren’t pulled out of position. All these points make this lift great assistance work for a deadlift. But unfortunately it’ll not replace the lift entirely, but it will get you through a “dry patch” while you are housebound. Here’s a video explaining the lift:

And if you have enough weight, don’t be afraid to go heavy (just don’t damage your floor!) Don’t be afraid to go to failure on these, your technique will fail before you get close to an overload injury. Option 2: The Bodyweight Only Solution. If you want to work with just your bodyweight, or maybe with a light weight if that’s all you have available, then we need to do two exercises in order to tick as many deadlift boxes as possible. Exercise 1: Skater Squats Exercise 2: Bridge Like the RDL, Skater Squats are likely to hit technical failure, meaning you can’t maintain good form, before you get so tired you do damage, so don’t be afraid to push these. Like the RDL you must centre your COM over the standing foot and look for as much tightness as possible. Then it’s a case of actively pulling yourself down into the squat before pushing the ground away to come back up. Try to avoid letting the chest collapse if possible, and if you are doing well, hold a weight in the Goblet Squat position.

The Bridge then is about the back and spinal erectors. The Deadlift offers a whole load of work for the entire back that is hard to replicate with bodyweight exercises, we can target the upper back and Lats with Pull Ups and inverted rows, but for the erectors we must bridge. Try to hold the bridge for between 30-60 seconds with tension. For most you will be on the shoulders Grapplers/Wrestlers, you can be on the head (keep the hands handy) For the bendy folk, you may be in a full bridge, even working the bridge push up (nope, I’m NOT demoing that one!!!)

(Look at how much the place has changed since this clip:)

Wrestlers bridge demoed by Mick, he has a significant deadlift!

Option 3: Isometrics This is the most deadlifty of the deadlift alternatives that I can think of. The key behind the deadlift in terms of strength development is the massive overload to the central nervous system. It requires the whole body get tight and strong and then start to ratchet the weight off the floor, This Isometric deadlift is all that but without the movement. The problem with it, if you see this as a problem, is that it is very taxing on the grip and you may well be limited by your grip. I don’t see this as a problem because UI see this as an opportunity to shine a light on and focus in on the weak area. Now, isometric exercises have been shown to illicit strength gains in a range of approx 15 degrees either side of the joint angle trained. So do three sets, one low, one middle and one high to get the full range trained. There are two exercise prescriptions you can follow. For the majority, you will grip up, tighten up then gradually pull ever harder for 6-12 seconds. rest 2-5 minutes between each set (use that as an opportunity to move aorund, even do some very light swings) For experienced lifters only you can do what are known as “Explosive Isometrics” As before get position and tension the towel, then take a deep breath in and explode up as hard as possible, imagine you’re Dimitry Klokov Snatching 200kg! You will only manage full power for a handful of seconds, don’t kid yourself that you’re doing explosive iso’s if you’re holding on for 10 seconds. Again take 2-5 minute rest periods, move around and keep loose (no swings this time) Here’s what the lift looks like:

Now, after all that, here’s a wee sales pitch…. I have several training programs available through the TrainHeroic app that are perfect for those of you stuck at home. Our Workout of the Day program is the group sessions run inside of Wg-Fit, you’ll need a few kettlebells or be able to improvise with sandbags/ dumbells/barbells and maybe a pull up bar, see that here. Then theres’s the bodyweight only workouts broken into three levels, these require nothing but you and some floor space. You can see all of these by following this link: Now, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly frequently with soap and water, practice nasal breathing, maybe some buteyko breath holds, and don’t stress yourselves out about the virus! Chat soon Dave Hedges

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