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Deadlifting with Dumbbells


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As the title indicates, I've been deadlifting with dumbbells (4lb threaded standard handles, around 14 inches long). The way the handles bump into each other is kind of awkward. So last night I tried loading up one dumbbell but there really wasn't enough room for me to grip it comfortably with both hands. A barbell is on my wish list, but until that becomes a reality, what's my best option here?

 

Keep doing what I am and deal with the awkwardness? A little Googling came up with people deadlifting with the dumbbells at their sides instead of in front, but that looked more like a squat than a deadlift. Do single-leg Romanian deadlifts? (My thought here being that a lighter weight would make it easier to hold the dumbbells away from each other.) Find a pipe to fit over the dumbbell ends to keep them in line with each other? Something else that I'm overlooking?

 

Thanks for any advice!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Artemis Prime said:

As the title indicates, I've been deadlifting with dumbbells (4lb threaded standard handles, around 14 inches long). The way the handles bump into each other is kind of awkward. So last night I tried loading up one dumbbell but there really wasn't enough room for me to grip it comfortably with both hands. A barbell is on my wish list, but until that becomes a reality, what's my best option here?

 

Keep doing what I am and deal with the awkwardness? A little Googling came up with people deadlifting with the dumbbells at their sides instead of in front, but that looked more like a squat than a deadlift. Do single-leg Romanian deadlifts? (My thought here being that a lighter weight would make it easier to hold the dumbbells away from each other.) Find a pipe to fit over the dumbbell ends to keep them in line with each other? Something else that I'm overlooking?

 

Thanks for any advice!


I'm not an expert, I'm just doing these the way I want to. That said, I lift them at a diagonal angle. They start where my feet are, and end up just where my arms would be hanging naturally. It's a little squatlike on the first rep because I have to bend my knees to get low enough to pick them up. But then I don't put them down for subsequent reps. I guess that's a romanian deadlift or something. In any case, it's a hip hinge movement, so not like a squat, and the dumbells don't bump into anything.


I position them like this dude:

Spoiler

maxresdefault.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

 

Hmm. I just saw a video and the dude is indeed squatting them at the bottom. I think what we're looking for is a stiff legged db deadlift, like this (not the best example, sorry. I bend my legs a little more than this. but you get the idea):

Spoiler

 

 

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I think a lot depends on WHY you're deadlifting. Because it's an essential lift? Because you don't have an alternate hinge/hip dominant movement that you enjoy? Because you want a compound movement that targets upper back and the hinge at the same time?

 

Personally I think the neutral grip best resembles a trap bar deadlift, which is a great exercise in and of its own right - and yes, it can in some ways start to resemble more of squat. A bit more info on those: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/trap-bar-deadlifts/

 

If you're looking for a good hinge alternative, a KB swing or hip thrust is a good substitute. If you need alternative upper back pulling, any type of rowing or banded pulls are great.

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1 hour ago, Defining said:

I think a lot depends on WHY you're deadlifting. Because it's an essential lift? Because you don't have an alternate hinge/hip dominant movement that you enjoy? Because you want a compound movement that targets upper back and the hinge at the same time?

 

This. Identify what benefit you want out of the lift, and then either adapt the deadlift or locate an alternative exercise that gives the same benefit. :) 

 

I can confirm that a single-leg deadlift targets the hinge and the lower back at the same time, while also forcing the smaller balance-holding muscles in the ankle and lower leg to get involved (this is a good thing). They are also very challenging, especially if you are like me and balancing on one leg is a fall waiting to happen. :D 

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4 hours ago, Harriet said:

I lift them at a diagonal angle. They start where my feet are, and end up just where my arms would be hanging naturally. It's a little squatlike on the first rep because I have to bend my knees to get low enough to pick them up. But then I don't put them down for subsequent reps. I guess that's a romanian deadlift or something. In any case, it's a hip hinge movement, so not like a squat, and the dumbells don't bump into anything.

This sounds promising, I'll have to give it a shot.

 

1 hour ago, Defining said:

I think a lot depends on WHY you're deadlifting

I guess because it's an essential lift, mostly because I like deadlifting. I guess the hinge is what I'm most looking for. No KBs, so swings are out, but I'll give the neutral grip a chance. The article was helpful, thanks.

 

19 minutes ago, Scaly Freak said:

I can confirm that a single-leg deadlift targets the hinge and the lower back at the same time, while also forcing the smaller balance-holding muscles in the ankle and lower leg to get involved (this is a good thing). They are also very challenging, especially if you are like me and balancing on one leg is a fall waiting to happen. :D 

I think this might be where I end up. I'm pretty steady on one leg, was doing these without weights before I got my dumbbells. Mechanics aside, I'm on target to max out my available weights on my conventional deadlift way before I'm on schedule to buy any more workout equipment, so switching to single leg will hopefully give my finances time to catch up to my gains.

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4 minutes ago, Artemis Prime said:

because I like deadlifting.

 

This is a perfectly valid reason. Also a sign of good judgement.

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5 hours ago, Artemis Prime said:

I guess because it's an essential lift, mostly because I like deadlifting. I guess the hinge is what I'm most looking for. No KBs, so swings are out, but I'll give the neutral grip a chance. The article was helpful, thanks.

As Scaly Freak says, liking deadlifting is more than enough reason! Personally I can't stand 'em, to each their own. ;) 

 

For full disclosure, I did mean to include "" on the 'essential' lift part of my original post - I don't believe there is such a thing, but I also respect that some people prefer certain movements over others.

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12 hours ago, Defining said:

As Scaly Freak says, liking deadlifting is more than enough reason! Personally I can't stand 'em, to each their own. ;) 

 

What's not to love about deadlifts? Actually, what I like most about them is how much I can challenge myself. I have to be careful with squats because they can be rough on my knees, so I never really push myself to failure on those, but I can deadlift all day and my knees still feel great (the rest of me...not so much.)

 

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5 hours ago, Artemis Prime said:

What's not to love about deadlifts? Actually, what I like most about them is how much I can challenge myself. 

 

I like them because the legs is where my body really likes building muscle, so I can feel and see the benefits of doing deadlifts. Also, they make my butt look magnificent in tight leggings or jeans, if I do them regularly, and I like that too. :D 

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6 hours ago, Artemis Prime said:

What's not to love about deadlifts? 

For myself, a combination of upper back/neck issues paired with poor co-ordination. ;) Essentially I find it difficult to keep in mind all the relevant cues to do the lift safely, and am so distracted with the technique that I can't/don't push the lift to the point of feeling productive. My personal preference is for more targeted and lower technique movements, which permit me to really focus on the one area at a time. Eg. Hip thrusts.

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You mentioned these in your original post, but I'm a big fan of one legged deadlifts. I do these with a single dumbell on the side of the rising leg to add a little extra weight. I too am working out at home with nothing but some lightweight dumbells and a few other bits, so I've found that for large muscle groups like legs, it's helpful to do one leg at a time to really work the muscles. It's been good for balance, too. Here's Staci of NF demonstrating the bodyweight version:

single-leg-deadlift.gif 

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Deadlifted last night with the dumbbells at an angle to keep them from hitting each other. The first set felt a little off, think the problem was I was letting them drift off my legs too much, but the rest of the sets felt good. Still probably going to switch to one legged at some point because I think I'm going to run out of weights to add before I'm ready to buy more, but for now I've got some room to keep going.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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