All About Dumbbell Deadlifts and How to Do Them

Image of concentrated young woman fitness coach making sport exercise deadlift with dumbbell in gym

One of the most versatile gym exercises you can do is the deadlift. There are plenty of variations that you can do to target different muscles. One fun variation is the dumbbell deadlift. The conventional deadlift uses a barbell, but this dumbbell variation offers new challenges for fitness enthusiasts and prevents the deadlift routine from getting too stale. Other options can spice up a workout routine, like a stiff leg deadlift, single-leg dumbbell deadlift, or Romanian dumbbell deadlift, which can offer many benefits. This workout has plenty of variations targeting muscle groups in the legs, arms, back, core, and glutes. This article will guide you with everything you need to know about successfully performing dumbbell deadlifts. 

Dumbbell Deadlifts


What Are Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell deadlifts are a unique variation of the conventional deadlift exercise, which uses a barbell. This exercise is self-explanatory as you use dumbbells to perform a deadlift instead of a standard barbell. However, that doesn’t make it a straightforward exercise. There are plenty of bonuses to opting for dumbbell deadlifts instead of the more traditional version of this exercise.

This exercise allows people to add variety to their workout routine, which can help invigorate and re-energize a person’s routine.

Dumbbell deadlifts allow you to choose between using traditional dumbbells or kettlebells. Many people prefer kettlebell workouts, thanks to their versatility. Also, more people own dumbbells or kettlebells at home, making this exercise easier to access since you don’t have to have an expensive gym membership.

Using two specific weights can help anyone perfect their deadlift form. This type of deadlift is usually done with smaller weights, allowing for more control while performing the motion. The small weights also target muscles more individually, which can help you develop better results. If you do the same workout with improper form, you can injure yourself. This weight-lifting movement is an excellent addition to all workout routines and can help people strengthen multiple muscle groups with a single exercise. 

Muscles Worked

The dumbbell deadlift works many of the same muscles as the traditional deadlift, and these workouts target muscles in the legs, like the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. This workout is excellent at helping your arms, including your biceps, triceps, forearms, and grip strength. Even though it seems like a workout in the form of a deadlift might not help your back, it also is an excellent workout for your back muscles if you do it correctly. This workout strengthens your core, abs, and obliques, making it one of the most effective and efficient full-body workouts. 

Many people practice this workout because of the muscles it helps, but the benefits don’t stop there. It’s easy to see that this exercise increases overall physical strength, but it also improves a person’s mobility and balance, which helps people stay fit for longer. This means that, on average, people who work out have better health over the length of their life, even as they continue to age.

Dumbbell deadlifts are a great exercise to improve grip strength. This workout can help you improve your grip strength with practice. The heavier the weights you choose, the stronger your grip strength will become. Grip strength can also consistently indicate tons of other health factors. For example, overall strength, upper limb function, and overall fitness can all be explained by a person’s grip strength. This aspect is also an indicator of other strange health aspects like mineral density, fractures, multimorbidity, cognitive impairment, depression, sleep problems, diabetes, quality of life, malnutrition, and falls. Bettering your grip strength helps you become more healthy in many ways, and in general, it means you will be more independent as an older person since it can help fight the effect of aging. Unless you’re going to get really into hand exercises, finding workouts that can casually increase your grip strength, like dumbbell deadlifts, is the most convenient way to improve it.

Deadlifting is so powerful at slowing aging because it helps aid your bone density and arm strength in your life. This makes everyday tasks easier and makes you less likely to injure yourself by bending improperly, pulling your back, or falling due to disorientation or imbalance. This workout also helps boost your metabolism, making it a great tool to assist you in fat loss goals. You may not lose weight while partaking in this activity, but you will get fit and more muscular. You can burn fat while simultaneously building muscle.

Dumbbell Deadlift vs Traditional Deadlift

The regular deadlift is very similar to the dumbbell deadlift. You can hit all the same muscle groups with each deadlift, but the difference is in the technique of these movements. Many people new to practicing deadlifts don’t have the correct technique, which can lead to poor health and injury significantly affecting your back. 

Dumbbell deadlifts are great because they usually use smaller weights. Also, many trainers argue that since there are two weights, they require more attention to control the technique. Ensure your hands are even so that you can do this exercise slowly. 

The dumbbell deadlift also provides you with a different stimulus. Power is typically the primary concern when people focus on the traditional deadlift since heavier weights are often encouraged. Still, dumbbell deadlifts force people to maintain a strict focus on form, feeling, and movements. 

This type of workout also offers more variations to ensure no one gets bored of their regular workout routine. It would help if you were excited to work out because taking care of yourself should be fun. Variety is the spice of life, and few workouts can provide as much variety as dumbbell deadlifts. Regular deadlifts

Stretches to Warm Up with Before Practicing Dumbbell Deadlift

Before completing your dumbbell deadlift, ensure you are prepared to perform this workout safely. Don’t work out if you haven’t eaten properly or are dehydrated.

Many trainers encourage their clients to perform stretches to warm up their hamstrings and limber up their backs before partaking in dumbbell deadlifts. This is because, as stated earlier, form is essential when performing deadlifts. After all, these exercises can lead to serious injury if you’re not careful to do them correctly.

One stretch, called the Quadratus Lumborum Stretch, is recommended before performing deadlifts because it can help stretch your legs, back, and core all at once. You have to lay on the floor with your back on the ground to do this stretch. You’ll want to bring your right knee up to grab it with your left hand. Then you can extend your right arm outwards and turn your head to face your right palm. You want to hold this stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. You should repeat this movement on each side three times and give yourself a solid two minutes after the stretch to begin your workout.

person stretching


What Weights to Use

While you might be eager to start getting as fit as possible when practicing dumbbell deadlifts, it can be hard to ensure you’re performing this exercise correctly on the first go. Instead, you should practice the form of this workout without any weights to begin. It would be most beneficial for you to practice in a room with mirrors to see your body and note whether your knees, back, and chest are in the correct locations and movements while you practice this workout. If you like to work out at a home gym without mirrors,  you get a view of your back since this is where you can injure yourself the most.

First-timers should opt for lighter dumbbell weights as they begin to add weights to this workout. Try starting with a dumbbell weight that you think is about five to ten pounds too light for you. As you practice your first rep with your chosen weight, you can increase it as you feel more comfortable with the form to challenge yourself. Of course, the more you practice this, the better you’ll get at it, and although dumbbells are great because they encourage smaller weights, you can start to push your limits to get the most work out of this exercise possible. 

Dumbbell Deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift can be broken into multiple steps to make it easier to work out. To begin, ensure you have the proper starting stance. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and soften your knees. Keep in mind that you don’t want your back to bend and your hands to stay as close to your shins as possible on the way down for this movement. If you prefer, you can hold dumbbells at your sides instead of in front of you to distribute the weight differently, although this isn’t the most recognized form for dumbbell deadlifts since this works a slightly different group of muscles. 

To begin your dumbbell deadlift, pick your dumbbells up off the ground with an overhand grip. Then stand so your knees have a soft bend and start bending at your hips. You can develop a bend in your knees as you bend at your hips, lowering your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground in front of you. Most people performing dumbbell deadlifts lower their upper body to a 45-degree angle. You want to let your arms hang in front of your shins and knees, keeping them closer to your body. 

Do not round your back under any circumstance, and keep your spine in a neutral position. While performing this exercise, you should maintain a slow and controlled motion and lower yourself cautiously, aware of your body’s positioning. 

After you have bent to a level between a 45-degree angle or parallel to the floor, you want to stand straight up without changing the shape of your back. Many trainers recommend squeezing your glutes as you stand and pushing through the ball and heel of your foot to aid your form. 

Once you’ve completed these movements, you’ve got one rep down! It’s a good idea to try to get six reps done in three minutes as a beginner, but try to work that period down as you get more reps in. Then you can perform multiple sets and get the most out of your dumbbell deadlift exercise. couple doing dumbbell deadlifts

Dumbell Deadlifts Variations

Even though dumbbell deadlifts are a variation of their own, there are more variations to this variation! This gives gym-goers never-ending options to practice this insanely healthy workout, even when they get bored of their regular old routine. 

Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift

The dumbbell sumo deadlift is the same as a sumo deadlift, except it’s with dumbbells. That means this workout is almost the same as the dumbbell deadlift outlined before, but you want to stand so your feet are rotated away from your midline and turned out 30 to 45 degrees. Some people also stand with their feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

This style of dumbbell sumo deadlift works a slightly different area of the glutes than a standard deadlift. If you’re looking for an exercise that lets you hulk out, the dumbbell sumo deadlift variation is one that allows people to lift heavier weights.

When you do this workout, you want to set up your feet correctly and then bend at the hips while keeping your chest up so you can reach down to grab your dumbbells with an overhand grip. It’s a good idea to think about driving your hips back while you bend to make sure you don’t move your back incorrectly. 

After you have your dumbbells in your grasp, take a deep breath, engage your core to keep your spine straight, and squeeze your glutes to rise straight. Just as you think of driving your hips backward to lower yourself into the sumo deadlift position, think of thrusting your hips forward to rise from this position. Raise the dumbbells as you straighten your legs to stand and slowly lower the weights back to the floor. After you’ve completed all of this, you’ll have one rep down. 

Since this workout lets you pull heavier weights, it’s encouraged for people to aim to get five to eight repetitions for one set. You should rest between sets for at least 90 to 120 seconds. Don’t push yourself too hard that your pull a muscle. The heavier weights can be deceiving until the next day when you feel sore over your entire body. Start with only two sets per workout and work your way up to performing four sets over time. 

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian dumbbell deadlift is another variation of the dumbbell deadlift variation. This workout helps target the quads, core, glutes, and hamstrings, even more than standard deadlifts do. Many trainers advise people with lower back pain to perform this workout first. This particular type of dumbbell deadlift is a great way to build strength and endurance if you’re a runner or speed walker. 

These deadlifts begin in an upright position and require soft but not bent knees. Do not hunch your back or use momentum to help you through this form. 

You perform these the same way as traditional dumbbell deadlifts, except you can allow your back to become parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement. This move is much more glut and hamstring dominant and takes a lot of strain off the back muscles at the end of the movement. romanian dumbbell deadlift

How You Can Incorporate this Workout into Your Regular Routine

There are many ways to incorporate these workouts into your routine. You can perform dumbbell deadlifts or any of the variations anytime you’re doing a leg day routine. The maximum number of times to perform deadlift exercises is three times a week. It’s encouraged to allow yourself to rest a whole day to relieve muscle groups and might require more recovery time to maintain the strength benefits these positions offer.

If you want to spice up your workout routine, practice a different variety of dumbbell deadlifts every six to ten weeks to maximize the minute changes each workout offers. Even though these subtle differences might not seem like much, small changes can target particular areas of specific muscles that often get overlooked or ignored. Sumo deadlifts can get neglected areas of the glutes working, and Romanian deadlifts allow your quads and hamstrings special attention during your workout sessions. 


Dumbbell deadlifts are among some of the healthiest and most beneficial workout styles of all full-body workout options. This workout is available to many people, including those who only work out at home with dumbbells or kettlebells. The training is done using smaller weights, so if you’re intimidated by trying traditional deadlifts with a heavy barbell, these can be a comfortable starting point. 

A Barbell deadlift can offer a regular workout enthusiast a lot. These workouts are great for your lower body and hips in particular. When done correctly, they can aid in hip and back pain. At the same time, a dumbbell sumo deadlift, Romanian dumbbell deadlift, and regular dumbbell deadlift exercise can offer a different take on a traditional workout. 

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