Would an isometric deadlift be a good substitute for a normal, barbell deadlift?

I know that's difficult to engage as many muscles in the same way as barbell deadlifts. (I read Are there any alternatives to deadlifts? and Am I exercising all my muscles?).

  • 2
    Why do you want to replace the deadlift? What about the alternatives in the other questions aren't a good option? Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 19:54
  • @Dave: I travel too much and could not take a barbell with me, no health issues are involved here. I just wanted to substitute it for something that would provide the same load to many muscles.
    – xyz
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 13:16
  • 1
    I've seen isometric deadlift platforms with adjustable handles/plumbing pipes. It is basically a platform with a chain and/or spring that connects to a handle and you can adjust the handle to various heights to train different stages of the deadlift movement. I can't say it's a substitute for a deadlift, but many people use it in your situation or to train past sticking points in their lift. Ross Training: rosstraining.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=49278
    – Shane
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 16:57
  • Isometric training exercises your muscles in a different way. Take a look at Isometric Training
    – user5279
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 20:59
  • What is your training goal? If you want to train for a heavy deadlift, then there is no substitute for heavy deadlifts. Do you want better posture, a better looking body, to lift more weight, retain strength while travelling?
    – user2861
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 2:30

2 Answers 2


Isometric exercises do have their place in training, but can never replace the lift itself.

The problem with isometric exercises is, that you don't have any range of motion, you just hold the weight there and contract your muscles. While that surely has a positive effect on the muscles in that position, it doesn't help much in other parts of the lift.

For example, if you're doing an isometric deadlift at knee-height, that won't really help you at lockout. Neither will it improve your ability to get the weight of the ground much. It would provide some benefits though, as you'd strengthen your core and probably get better at the knee-high part of the deadlift.

So, basically no, isometric exercises are not good at replacing a lift, but they are a tool to improve certain parts of a lift. If you can identify weak points in your deadlift, you might still improve it that way, even without a barbell.


The shorter answer is NO.

Dumbbells, by design, exercise only an arm. Barbells, by design, exercise both arms. Since deadlift is a 2-arm exercise, it cannot be completely and effectively done by dumbbells.

This doesn't indicate that you cannot use dumbbells; you can use the same dumbbells for various exercises. And you can even use it for deadlift-like exercises; you just cannot call those exercises deadlifts and you certainly will not obtain the benefits of deadlifting.

Use whatever you have around you, till when you have access to your beloved barbells :).

Whatever you do, don't stop exercising.

Now, go lift some weights :).

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