Want bigger hams and glutes? Rethink the conventional deadlift. Here’s why.
The conventional deadlift isn’t your best bet if you’re trying to build bigger legs and glutes. Here’s why and what to do instead.
The Bullet Points
- The deadlift isn’t the best exercise for hypertrophy, at least not the conventional or sumo deadlifts. But they’re great for strength. All the details: Not the King of Exercises – Deadlift
- Since tension is spread out over multiple muscle groups, few muscles are worked to a high level of fatigue. None of them are significantly taxed.
- In addition, the neural drive required for the deadlift is divided over many muscle groups. This makes it harder to recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers during the deadlift.
- You can use a lot of weight during the deadlift, but none of the joints reach a thoroughly stretched or closed position.
- During hypertrophy, you want to lengthen the muscles to their fullest state. The glutes do get some lengthening, but not fully.
- The RDL (Romanian deadlift) is a much better option for hypertrophy. It WILL create a stretch in the glutes.
- The stiff-leg deadlift stretches the hamstrings and increases the stretch required for hypertrophy.
- The traditional deadlift is great for competitive lifting and strength but not so much for muscle growth.
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I do RDLs one session in the week, and SLDLs in another right now. SLDLs are still a relatively new exercise for me as I’ve spent more time with either conventional DL or a TBDL…but I feel wonderful doing them. My hamstrings feel fantastically targeted and lifting a weight in that style with my posterior feels like it’s going to do wonders over time to my erectors etc. I never really have back pain with conventional deadlifts but something about it feels way safer too. I don’t go for big grinders, but on the tough reps, lifting weight without my quads driving it seems to have my posterior always stay as tight as required and I can say “nope” before I think there’s any chance of failure. With a conventional I can be more likely to leave a leak somewhere whilst just grinding through with my quads.
With this massive positive it’s also way more natural to do slower eccentrics, which means the bosu ball squatters and elliptical lords can stop complaining about the noise.
Now, if only there was a way to subdue my ego and let people know I’m doing a different exercise to a deadlift and can actually lift more than this.