Dead lifts are a fantastic exercise you should add to your weight lifting routine. They develop core strength, boost your metabolism, improve posture, build grip strength, work every major muscle in the body and produce a natural hormone release that increases fat oxidation. In fact, some trainers would argue that if you had to choose just one overall exercise, it would be the dead lift!

 

Dead lifts are also a great way to build strength in the posterior chain. The whaatt? Basically, the backside of the body – the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper back. Not only will this make that peach pop, but it’ll be a lot easier to hike those hills this fall.

 

While they make look ‘simple,’ there are a lot of variables that affect your ability to lift the weight off the floor. Plus, there are different types of dead lifts that work for different body types. We spoke with Maria Woodruff, a personal trainer from In-Shape Napa, to get the low-down on bending down.

 

“Feet are at about hip width and are positioned straight forward in a traditional dead lift, whereas a sumo dead lift takes a wide stance with feet turned out,” she said of the main differences.

 

“A sumo dead lift also requires more flexibility through the hips since your feet and knees are wider than the hips. This positioning actually takes pressure off the back and can be a great option for people with a weak lower back,” Maria explained.

 

While both options strengthen the entire backside of the body, the sumo dead lift builds hip and glute strength while also toning the inner thigh, or adductors. The traditional dead lift primarily works the hamstrings and lower back.

 

When it comes to a traditional dead lift, Maria offers these top tips:

  • Keep the upper back tight
  • Keep the chest upright
  • Place feet directly underneath hips
  • Hips should stay down as long as possible
  • Bar should remain close to the shins throughout the exercise
  • Push force through the heels

 

By contrast, in a sumo dead lift, Maria offers these top tips:

  • Keep the upper back tight
  • Keep the chest upright
  • Take a narrower grip (than in a traditional dead lift)
  • Push force through the heels

 

So, while the sumo dead lift and traditional dead lift work similar muscles, one may suit your body better than the other based on your flexibility. Try them both out – you never know what you’re missing. And who knows? You just might find a new favorite move on the gym floor.