Modifying the Deadlift to Make it Pain Free

Need more hip and low back mobility? Start with Day 1 of our Hip/Low Back Mobility Program for free:

Modifying the Deadlift to Make it Pain Free | Ep. 95 | Movement Fix Monday

This week I want to show you some deadlifts variations you can use to train it pain free.

Before we get into it though, it should be said that sometimes there is nothing you can do to make it pain free (temporarily). If your or someone's back is really painful, there may just not be a deadlift variation that is appropriate.

But that usually isn't the case.

Why These Variations?

The variations I show in this video are chosen because they involve equipment that most people and gyms have: barbell, plates, kettlebells, dumbbells. If you have a trap bar and a landmine setup, that is awesome. There are some great variations using those tools, but for the sake of this video, I have left those out.

I look for a variation of the deadlift that is pain free. Surprise!

Just because deadlifts are in a workout does not mean you have to do a conventional deadlift off the ground or not deadlift at all. This isn't an all or none situation.

Find a pain free deadlift variation to use. And if that isn't a barbell off the floor, you can use the pain free variations as your main training tool while doing other drills to work on your starting position off the floor (see some of the videos here).

The Variations

The variations I demonstrate in the video are:

Conventional barbell deadlift

Sumo Deadlift (the wide stance essentially brings you close to the ground, requiring less range of motion)

Elevated deadlift/rack pull (this deadlift variation just brings the bar to a higher starting position. You can start off a rack, off plates, or off pull blocks)

Kettlebell deadlift (this can be started on the ground or elevated on plates to decrease the range of motion)

Dumbbell deadlift (just put the kettlebell on its side if you have no other equipment around you can use

Romanian deadlift to only comfortable depths (start this from the rack, or off blocks, or off plates)

Closing thoughts

So to bring it all together:

If there is a pain free deadlift variation that can be done, do that instead of either completely avoiding deadlifts or suffering through painful deadlifts

Use the pain free variation in conjunction with other drills to improve your pulling position off the ground

Train smart!

Oh by the way, if you found all of these variations for the deadlift helpful, you should check out my program with Dr. John Rusin HERE. It includes 70+ variations of the biggest lifts to give you options for your training. Each one of those exercises has in-depth instruction and is divided by movement pattern.


our tolerance over time and you will develop flexibility to be in this position as well as the strength to keep it. Now when you go to run or split jerk, your brain knows what that joint position means, how to control it, and how to be strong in it.



What to Read Next

Commonly Misunderstood Words in Movement and Mobility

Commonly Misunderstood Words in Movement and Mobility In this post I will be sharing my thoughts on common words used in the movement and fitness world with a focus on how to better define them conceptually, and where applicable, mathematically. Each day...

read more
How to Stretch Shoulder Extension

How to Stretch Shoulder Extension

How to Stretch Shoulder Extension Learn how to stretch your shoulder extension Want better shoulder mobility? Download Day 1 of our Shoulder Mobility Program for free: Option 1 For many people, option 1 will be the best option, especially if...

read more

Get all our latest articles sent directly to your inbox