# How to do deadlifts with dumbbells?

I dont have access to a barbell, yet i still want to try and do deadlifts, so i was wondering if anybody knows how to explain to me the proper technique, or maybe even refer me to an article or video that may help. I have spent almost all day trying to get some info on this, but for the most part they all explain the right technique in regard to a barbell not a dumbbell.

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I'd suggest following the instructional technique for barbell deadlifts and just transfer that exact form to the dumbbell deadlifts.

You can practice the technique with a broomstick so that you can get the correct starting position (you won't be able to put it on the ground, you'll have to imagine the lift bottoms out with the broomstick approximately 8 inches from the ground, against your shins).

To learn the mechanics, here are two good articles:

This will take a bit of imagination to do with a broomstick, but it will help you learn what the form should feel like. That will let you transfer that feeling to the dumbbell version.

Then, you can try to replicate that with dumbbells. It will take even more imagination and control to do with the same form as with a barbell, but it can be the exact same motion. You can use some small boxes to make sure the starting position of the dumbbells matches the starting position that you'd get with a proper barbell with bumper plates.

Using dumbbells also allows an alternate form because your knees won't get in the way when you stand up. This would change the exercise to focus more on quads and less on the back.

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The form for barbell is inefficient for dumbbells. This is not incorrect form, just different, due to the presence of a bar that must clear the knees. – J. Won. Apr 4 '12 at 1:13
Can't you just use the same form and have the imaginary axis of the dumbbells clear the knees just like a barbell would? – user3085 Apr 4 '12 at 1:17
While it's probably possible to learn to lift dumbbells while keeping your knees behind the line an imaginary bar would travel, your last sentence implies that's the only proper way to do it. – J. Won. Apr 4 '12 at 17:35
Ah.. I'll edit that. Thanks. I did think that the asker wanted the benefits of an actual barbell deadlift, so that's why I was focusing on the barbell deadlift form being the only proper way to do it. – user3085 Apr 4 '12 at 17:49

If you're using hex dumbbells, in addition to the method suggested by J. Winchester, you could put a single dumbbell on end between your legs with the bar in line with the middle of your feet, wrap your fingers underneath the top part and lift up the way you would with a kettlebell. This even allows you to do a kettlebell like swing, but of course make sure you've got a good grip so the dumbbell doesn't go flying, particularly if you're in front of a mirror.

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Try the Suitcase Deadlift. It is performed like a normal deadlift except you are holding only one dumbbell at your side. This exercise gives you the added benefit of training core anti-rotation. Holding only one dumbbell forces you to brace your core so your upper body won't tip and rotate.