The deadlift is my favorite exercise – I think THIS is the king of exercises, not the squat, to be honest.
This version of the deadlift is a very challenging one. It’s similar to a trap bar deadlift in that you’re standing in the center of the resistance, which helps take stress off the lower back.
But it’s also challenging in that you’re holding onto two barbells with just one hand in the center of each…you not only have to lift the weight, you also have to balance the bars in your hands as you’re doing the lift (which makes for great grip strength work).
This one is not for the first-time deadlifter, but if you’ve been doing deadlifts for awhile and need a change of pace and/or you find your back needs a bit of a break from heavy “normal” deadlifts, give this one a try. It’ll be a challenge even with lighter weights and not having to deal with the bar up your shins allows you to maintain a better position on your lower back, just like with a trap bar deadlift.
When using lighter weights, you won’t really need grip assistance but when you move to trying heavier weights, I highly recommend using lifting hooks like the 1 Ton Hooks that I’m using in the demo.
Anyway, here’s what the exercise looks like. In the first demo shots, I’ve got 135 lbs on each bar, for a total of 270 lbs. In the second demo pics, I’m using 185 lbs on each bar (for a total of 370 lbs) and using the hooks for grip.
If you’re not up for using 135 lbs in each hand, you can use smaller plates, which will give you a great range of motion, or you can do these in the rack like a rack pull, starting with the bars a bit off the ground.
So, load the bars and set them on the floor parallel to each other.
The pull is just like a normal deadlift only you’re standing in between the two bars and you have a neutral grip.
You’ll find if your grip isn’t perfectly centered, the bars will either tip forward or backward. Lift the bars off the ground a bit on the first rep and see which way they tilt. If they tilt forward, move your hands forward on the bars a little bit. If they tilt back, more your hands back a bit.
Now just stand up! It’s just that simple! 😉
When using the 260 lbs on the bars, I did reps without touching the plates to the ground. This allowed me to keep more continuous tension on. Not to brag, but for me, 260 lbs is a light weight for deadlifts so I wanted to try and make things a bit harder.
Then I added 50 lbs to each bar and did 370 lbs total. THAT is when I set the bars down between each rep to reset my body position.
As I mentioned above, I’m a HUGE fan of the deadlift. I think it’s the best overall exercise you can do. This is a great variation if you’re stagnant on the lift or if you just want a bit of a challenge and some more grip work!
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.
I have done these with one barbell instead of 2 as well… I call them suitcase deadlifts…they have helped my low back and core get some extra work… along with my other favorite variation of the squat… zercher squats….