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There are so many articles about the benefits of doing deadlifts for the back. But I am curious if there are alternatives to the deadlifts which still gives the same benefits?

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So basically your asking for alternative back exercises? What others have you tried and what's the purpose of doing these exercises? –  Ivo Flipse Aug 14 '11 at 17:16
    
Although the back is a major player, deadlifts are a total-body exercise! You would need to exercise not only the back, but also the legs, grip, abs, and even neck/shoulders to some extent. Point is, I think the answer needs to be a routine of several exercise to cover all the benefits. –  Greg Aug 14 '11 at 17:40
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Also, for the purpose of crafting an answer that helps you - why are you trying to replace deadlifts? Lack of equipment? Concerns about technique/injury? –  Greg Aug 14 '11 at 17:42
    
Why would you look for an alternative? –  Meade Rubenstein Aug 15 '11 at 17:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, there are alternatives to deadlifts. However, let's take some time to understand what deadlifts do:

  • A compound exercise designed to work your body in the proportions it was designed for
  • Works the complete posterior chain: calves, hamstrings, glutes, core, lats, neck.
  • Excellent core workout: the core muscles are only used to keep the spine in a neutral position. This includes all the thoracic muscles, the abs, and the neck muscles.

Your replacement would have to fill these roles.

Squats Now, squats are an excellent tool, and they hit many of the same areas, but they also get the quads, shins, and even a bit of the upper ab muscles. A good strength routine will have both squats and deadlifts.

Back extensions Weighted and unweighted, back extensions will get your glutes and hams as well as your core. The stresses are different in that you are leaning forward, and the weight of the upper body is pulling down in a different way than deadlifts work. In short, your back will be part of performing the lift as well as keeping the thoracic portion in a neutral position. That said, they are still a good assistance exercise. These do not get your lats at all.

Pullups Pullups will exercise the lats, as well as the neck muscles. They get a few more muscle groups as well, but they play a part in what deadlifts do.

Summary Essentially you would need to include all three of these exercises to get the same benefit of deadlifts. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that deadlifts let you do one exercise at very high weights in comparison to the other three, so there is just no full replacement.

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Back exercises to fill in for deadlifts

  • 45 degree hyperextentsion- works erector spinae, glutes and hamstrings
  • good mornings-works erector spinae, glutes and hamstrings.

Leg exercises to fill in for deadlifts

  • power lifter squat or low bar squat- works quads, glutes, erector spinae and hamstrings just like the deadlift carries over well.
  • Romanian deadlift or RDL- provides eccentric stretch for all the following muscles building deadlifting strength while not as taxing on your cns, works erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, lats, traps and grip.

Theres no substitute for deadlifts but if i had to choose two exercise to carry over to your posterior chain aka lower back, glutes, hamstrings it would be 45 degree hyperextentsion and RDL's. Dont forget core strength it carries over to your lower back when under a load.

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