Dumbbell Deadlift Workouts, Muscles Worked, Form and Benefits

The Dumbbell Deadlift is a highly effective variation of the Deadlift.

Dumbbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

Dumbbell Deadlifts strengthen your entire posterior chain, including your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Glutes: Your butt muscles, (gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus), bring your hip joints from a folded to a straightened position, thereby pushing you upright.

Hamstrings: The muscles of the backs of your thighs stretch deeply in the bottom position, and help straighten your hips as you rise to standing.

Lower back: The muscles that line your spine (erector spinae) keep your lower back flat and your torso rigid throughout the move.

You’ll also engage your core throughout the movement, so it can improve core strength (and in a way more functional way than crunches do).

Dumbbell Deadlift Benefits

1. Increased Range of Motion

One of the biggest benefits of using dumbbells for deadlifts is that you increase the range of motion you’re able to work with compared to barbell deadlifts.

Since you don’t have the big, tall plates as part of the equation, you can (typically) descend much closer to the ground during the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement than you could using a barbell.

When you do this, you should of course prioritize using proper form to protect your spine and lower back—but the increased movement path can be great for your gains.

2. Variety of Stimulus

The smaller implements are much more versatile than the fixed barbell (or even hex bars); dumbbells allow you to introduce new stances or even work unilaterally (with the focus of your work on one side at a time).

This can hammer the muscles in slightly different ways—some variations will put more focus on the hamstrings, for instance.

How to do Dumbbell Deadlifts

Standing position: keep your feet shoulder apart and spine straight

Place the Dumbbells on the side aligned with your foot – where the centre of gravity is.

Bend down to get the dumbbells keeping your shoulder align with the knees, and thighs parallel to the floor.

Hold the dumbbells firm and stand up lifting them keeping them aligned with the knees and the shoulder.

As you stand, squeeze the glutes to the top.

Go back down the similar motion till dumbbells touch the floor.

Dumbbell Deadlift Form

Make sure you exhale when you are moving up.

Keep your arms straight throughout

Keep your neck neutral, and straight with your spine.

Form tip: “In the dumbbell deadlift, you want to focus primarily on hinging at the hip joints,” says Billy Anderson, NASM, instructor at The Life Time Academy. “Think about your hips moving forward and back, not on moving your chest up and down.”

Dumbbell Deadlift Variations

The following Dumbbell Deadlift variations will help you add different types of training stimulus into your sessions.

  • Straight-Leg Deadlift
  • Suitcase Deadlift
  • Staggered Deadlift
  • Single-Leg Deadlift
  • Single-Arm Deadlift
  • Single-Arm Suitcase Deadlift
  • Single-Arm and Leg Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift
  • Front-Loaded Deadlift
  • Kneeling Front-Loaded Deadlift

Dumbbell Deadlift Workouts

Browse through this list of Dumbbell Deadlift Workouts and select your next challenge.

WORKOUT 1

Three 3-minute AMRAPs in 11 minutes

  • 12 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 8 Push-Up + Renegade Rows (2×50/35 lb)
  • Rest 1 minute between AMRAPs

On an 11-minute clock, complete as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the 3-minute window for 3 rounds.

Each round is a 3-minute AMRAP of 12 Dumbbell Deadlifts 8 Push-Up + Renegade Rows. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed before the 11-minute clock stops.

Movement Standards

Push-Up + Renegade Row: Athlete will hold one Dumbbell on each hand and perform a standard Push-Up.

Then, pull the right Dumbbell towards the chest and back to the ground. Do the same with the left Dumbbell. This counts as one rep.

WORKOUT 2

For Time

  • 100 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/35 lb)
  • Every minute on the minute, starting at 1:00, perform:
  • 5 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)

With a running clock, complete 100 Dumbbell Thrusters as fast as possible (“For Time“). Every minute on the minute (“EMOM“) starting at 1:00, perform 5 Deadlifts.

Score is the time on the clock when the 100th Dumbbell Thruster is completed.

Scaling Options

10 Rounds for Time

  • 8 Squat + Press
  • 8 Dumbbell Deadlifts

WORKOUT 3

EMOM for 19 minutes

  • 6 Alternating Dumbbell Deadlifts (50/35 lb)
  • 4 Alternating Dumbbell Squat Cleans (50/35 lb)
  • 2 Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overheads (50/35 lb)

Remaining time in each minute, AMRAP:

Goblet March (L+R=1)

On a 19-minute clock, every minute on the minute (EMOM) perform 6 Alternating Dumbbell Deadlifts, 4 Alternating Dumbbell Squat Cleans, and 2 Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overheads (50/35 lb).

In the remaining time in each minute, perform Goblet March.

Score is the total number of repetitions completed before the 19-minute clock stops.

Movement Standard

Goblet March: Hold the dumbbell as if doing a Goblet Squat and march in place. Left leg then right leg counts for 1 rep.

WORKOUT 4 (PARTNER)

5 Rounds for Time (in a Team of 4)

  • 400 metre Run (together)
  • 30 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb) (each)
  • 30 Sit-Ups (each)

This workout requires four team members to perform the prescribed work together. If performing the workout with gym equipment, use barbells and other available equipment.

But this workout was designed for military units, so it was originally intended to be done with two .50-cal ammo cans (50 pounds each) per soldier.

But you can use kettlebells, dumbbells, or any weights available at your gym as substitutes.

Team will start at the same time from the same location. Individuals will run 400m, returning to the start point. Upon completion of the run, each will conduct 30 deadlifts with the .50-cal ammo cans; once the 30 deadlifts are complete, they will execute 30 full-range sit-ups.

All partners may work at the same time. The first round will end after all team members complete their 30 sit-ups. Rounds 2, 3, 4, and 5 are executed in the exact same order.

Each exercise must be completed before moving on the next one—i.e., you must finish all 30 deadlifts before starting the 30 sit-ups.

However, each exercise may be broken up into sets as desired. Spotting will be permitted only during the sit-ups. Only a team member who is also in the sit-up phase of the workout may provide assistance.

As soon as the spotter completes his 30th sit-up and transitions to the run, or when he is returning from the run and starting the deadlifts, he is not permitted to provide assistance.

Learn how to build bigger biceps

WORKOUT 5

3 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Cossack Squats (50/35 lb)
  • 10 Dumbbell Devil Presses (2×50/35 lb)

With a running clock, as fast as possible with good form, perform the prescribed work in the order written for 3 rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Dumbbell Devil Presses is completed.

Movement Standard: For the Dumbbell Cossack Squat, stand with a Sumo Deadlift stance. Hold a dumbbell on the chest and lower to a squat towards the left leg, then switch to the other leg.

Scaling Options

Bodyweight

3 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Toe Touches
  • 10 Cossack Squats
  • 10 Shoulder Taps and Burpees

Bodyweight Scaled

3 Rounds for Time

  • 20 Toe Touches
  • 10 Cossack Squats
  • 10 Shoulder Taps and Push-Ups on Knees

WORKOUT 6

5 Rounds for Time

  • 30 second Right Leg Glute Bridge Hold
  • 30 second Left Leg Glute Bridge Hold
  • 1 minute Wall Sit
  • 30 second Single-Leg Deadlift (2×50/35 lb)
  • 1 minute Plank

With a running clock, perform 5 rounds of the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the time on the clock when the 5 rounds are completed.

Movement Standards

Single-Leg Glute Bridge Hold: Lay on the ground with both feet close to the hips. Lift one foot with the knee fully extended and the other foot planted on the floor.

Lift the hips off the ground maintaining a neutral back and hold the position for 30 seconds.

WORKOUT 7

AMRAP in 15 minutes

  • 20 Alternating Jumping Lunges
  • 20 Dumbbell Sumo Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 20 Dumbbell Push Presses (2×50/35 lb)

On a 15-minute clock, complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed before the 15-minute clock stops.

WORKOUT 8

Day 1

For Load and Reps

With 1 Dumbbell in the Left Hand, perform:

  • Waiter Walk
  • Suitcase Carry
  • Suitcase Deadlifts
  • Single-Arm Overhead Presses
  • Single-Arm Bench Presses
  • Side Bends

Day 2

Same workout but use the right hand.

Choose the weight available and the reps depending on your energy level. Perform each movement with the chosen reps and complete as many rounds given how you feel.

For Day 1, you will use your left hand in performing all the prescribed movements.

For Day 2, you will do the same workout but use the right hand.

Take note of the load and how many rounds and reps you did during Day 1. You will do the same load, rounds and reps on your right hand for Day 2.

Score is the load used and the total number of reps completed for Day 1 and Day 2.

Movement Standards

Waiter Walk: Hold the Dumbbell overhead with the arms fully locked out and walk the desired metres.

Suitcase Carry: Hold the Dumbbell like carrying a suitcase on the left hand. Remain a neutral position by not leaning on the left side of the torso. Walk the desired metre distance.

Suitcase Deadlift: This is a variation of the standard Deadlift wherein you only use one hand. Place the Dumbbell beside your left foot and pull the Dumbbell until full extension of the legs, knees, and hips. This counts as one rep.

Side Bend: Hold the Dumbbell in one hand. Bend the torso towards the side of the hand holding the Dumbbell. Return to the starting position. This counts as one rep.

WORKOUT 9

AMRAP in 15 minutes

  • 10 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 15 Sit-Ups
  • 20/15 calorie Assault Airbike

On a 15-minute clock, perform as many rounds and repetitions (AMRAP) of the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed before the 15-minute clock stops.

WORKOUT 10 (PARTNER)

12 Rounds for Time (with a Partner)

Partner 1

  • 600 metre Run

Partner 2

2 Rounds of:

  • 12 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 12 Dumbbell Swings (50/35 lb)
  • 12 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/35 lb)

Switch after every round

With a running clock, as fast as possible complete the prescribed work for 12 rounds. One round consists of Partner 1 running for 600 metres and Partner 2 perform 2 rounds of 12 Deadlifts, 12 Swings, and 12 Thrusters.

Athletes switch positions after both partners are done with their portion.

Score is the time on the clock when both partners are done with the 12th round.

Scaling Options

Solo Version

6 Rounds for Time

  • 600 metre Run

Directly into, 2 Rounds of:

  • 12 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 12 Dumbbell Swings (50/35 lb)
  • 12 Dumbbell Thrusters (2×50/35 lb)

WORKOUT 11

7 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Man Makers
  • 20 Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • 30 Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatches (15 per side)
  • 40 Single-Arm Overhead Lunges (20 per side)
  • 50 Dumbbell Swings

Use one pair of dumbbells throughout (pick your own weight)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform 7 rounds of the prescribed work in the order written.

This workout was originally intended to be a “choose your own weight” adventure. If you’re looking for an Rx weight consider 35/25 lb.

One man maker consists of a dumbbell push-up, two renegade rows (one per arm), and a squat clean thruster.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Dumbbell Swings is completed.

Tips and Strategy

Settle in for a long workout (intermediate athletes should finish in 50-90 minutes) by picking a pace that you can maintain for that amount of time. In other words, don’t do the first 10 Man Makers unbroken.

Do one, rest a second, do another, etc.

For the rest of the movements, break up the reps into very manageable sets. Go slower than you think you need to for round one. See if you can hold that pace for the next 6 rounds.

WORKOUT 12

Five 4-Minute EMOMs in 20 minutes

  • Minute 1: 20/15 Calorie Windbike
  • Minute 2: Rest
  • Minute 3: 1 Round of Dumbell “DT” (2×50/35 lb)*
  • Minute 4: Rest

*1 Round of “DT” is:

12 Deadlifts

9 Hang Power Cleans

6 Push Jerks

I put windbike because I personally have the Echo Bike, but I know gyms have all different bikes…assault bike, concept 2 bike, airdyne, etc… Any of the above are fine. It will suck either way.

In Min 1, the athlete has the full minute to complete 20 Cals (Males) or 15 Cals (Females).

The next minute is built-in rest, so if the athlete finishes their bike early, they get extra rest. If the work takes the athlete into the rest min, they just get less rest.

Min 3 is 1 round of a dumbbell DT which is based on the hero workout with a barbell “DT.”

One round of Dumbbell “DT” is 12 Dumbbell Deadlifts, 9 Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans, and 6 Dumbbell Push Jerks. The RX weights are 50/35 lb.

For the Dumbbell Deadlifts, just the front edge of each dumbbell head needs to touch the outside of the athlete’s feet, both heads DO NOT have to touch.

For the hang power cleans, the DBs go from the side of the athlete to the shoulders of the athlete clearly breaking the athlete’s frontal plane view.

The push jerks can be any shoulder to overhead variation, just ensure full lockout is achieved.

Same deal as the calories on the bike. If the athlete finishes the round in the minute of work, they earn extra rest, if their work takes them into Minute 4, they just get less rest.

Athletes need to do 5 rounds of the 4-minute EMOMs to complete the workout.

Scaling

Reduce the number of calories on the bike, and/or the weight of the DBs.

WORKOUT 13

For Time

  • 50 Burpee Dumbbell Deadlifts (70/45 lb)
  • 50 Pull-Ups
  • 18 Dumbbell Snatches (70/45 lb)

WORKOUT 14

For Time

  • 30 Dumbbell Box Step-Ups (24/20 in, 2×50/35 lb)
  • 30 Dumbbell Front Squats (2×50/35 lb)
  • 30 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 30 Dumbbell Hang Clean and Split Jerk (2×50/35 lb, alternating foot forward)
  • 30 Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/35 lb)
  • 30 Dumbbell Front Squats (2×50/35 lb)
  • 30 Dumbbell Box Step-Ups (24/20 in, 2×50/35 lb)

Time Cap: 18 minutes

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Dumbbell Box Step-Ups is completed.

WORKOUT 15

For Time

15-10-5 reps of:

  • Dumbbell Bench Presses (2×50/40 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×50/40 lb)
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Rows (2×50/40 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×50/40 lb)
  • Dumbbell Front Rack Squats (2×50/40 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×50/40 lb)
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×50/40 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×50/40 lb)

In this workout, the athlete will perform 3 rounds of four exercises each divided by ten metre farmers carry. The first round will be performed to 15 reps each of the four exercises, then the second round for 10 reps each, and the last one for 5 reps each.

Score in this workout is based on the amount of time taken to complete the prescribed amount of work.

Scaling

For Time

15-10-5 reps of:

  • Dumbbell Bench Presses (2×40/30 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×40/30 lb)
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Rows (2×40/30 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×40/30 lb)
  • Dumbbell Front Rack Squats (2×40/30 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×40/30 lb)
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts (2×40/30 lb)
  • 10 metre Farmer’s Carry (2×40/30 lb)

Buying Dumbbells

Rogue have an excellent selection of great Dumbbells, suitable for all ability levels.

Browse Dumbbells (LINK)

Dumbbell Deadlift for Back

The Dumbbell Deadlift targets the back in an effective way, without placing great stress on the lower back. This is great for anyone that is not yet confident or technically proficient enough to load up a barbell and deadlift with conventional form.

Dumbbell Deadlift vs Squat

Deadlifts and squats are effective exercises for gaining lower body strength.

Both strengthen the muscles of the legs and glutes, but they do activate slightly different muscle groups. When performed, you’ll feel different muscles working with each move.

The deadlift is a movement where your hips hinge backward to lower down and pick up a weighted barbell or kettlebell from the floor. Your back is flat throughout the movement.

Some benefits of performing deadlifts include strengthening and gaining more definition in your upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

The squat is a movement where you lower your thighs to the floor until they’re parallel while keeping your chest upright.

Benefits of squats include strengthening the muscles in your glutes, quads, and thighs.

Squats are also a functional exercise. Functional exercises use movements you may use in your daily life.

For example, you may do the squat motion when sitting down in a chair, picking up objects on low shelves, or leaning down to pick up a child. Regularly performing squats may make it easier to perform these types of tasks.

Dumbbell Deadlift vs Barbell Deadlift

The main difference between a dumbbell deadlift and a barbell deadlift is that the weights used for a dumbbell deadlift are not held together as one unit, therefore the exercise develops your coordination as well as your muscles.

Dumbbell deadlifts put less stress on your back because you don’t have to reach over your legs to get to the weight.

Are Deadlifts with Dumbbells Effective?

Yes. Very much so. They also work a large range of muscle groups throughout the body and provide an excellent stimulus for any athlete.

Can you Gain Muscle Using Just Dumbbells?

Dumbbell training can be a valuable part of any lifter’s journey. They can help you add muscle mass, increase coordination, correct muscle imbalances, and even help you gain strength.

How Much Weight should I Dumbbell Deadlift?

Start light and work up gradually. Do not exceed the point where your form breaks down because your body is not strong enough to handle the load and volume. This is called technical failure.

How much Should I Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift?

If you are new to the dumbbell Romanian deadlift, choose a light weight to begin and complete 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. If you are more comfortable with the form, grab a pair of heavier dumbbells and complete 6-8 reps for 3-4 sets.

Try these Dumbbell Thruster or Bulgarian Split Squat workouts for more tips and tricks.

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