Workouts with names rooted in Eastern Europe not only exude a certain allure but also present a challenge. The Bulgarian split squat is a prime example – an exercise that everyone finds grueling. Some time ago, I referred to it by its alternate name, The rear-foot-elevated split squat, causing quite a stir on the internet. It’s evident that people tend to favor exercises with Eastern European monikers, and what could be more evocative of Eastern Europe than the Ukrainian deadlift?
If you have a penchant for demanding exercises, you are likely to embrace (or despise) the Ukrainian deadlift, a hybrid squat and deadlift variation. The challenge lies in the setup and the expanded range of motion it offers for your posterior muscles. When you subject your muscles to a broader range of motion with a pre-stretch before the muscle contraction, you create ideal conditions for muscle growth. Dan Stephenson, CSCS, strength coach, with 20 years of experience, is introducing you to a deficit deadlift variation that will sculpt your glutes.
Advantages of Engaging in Deficit Deadlifts
The increased range of motion places higher demands on your upper back, lower back, and hip mobility, making this an advanced variation of the deadlift. If you encounter any mobility issues or lower back discomfort, it’s advisable to steer clear of deficit deadlift variations like the Ukrainian deadlift. Deficit deadlifts serve as a vital tool for enhancing your conventional deadlift as they target the weakness of being slow off the ground. Additionally, the extra range of motion significantly fortifies your lower back.
The Ukaranian Deadlift
“The elevated position of the Ukrainian deadlift engenders a deeper range of motion compared to traditional deadlifts. The augmented range of motion mirrors the lifting motion involved in common strongman implements such as Atlas Stones and sandbags. This exercise is advantageous for individuals aiming to enhance their performance in strongman events and functional movements, like maneuvering your friend’s sofa,”states Stephenson.
This variation encompasses several benefits and can serve as a valuable inclusion in a strength and hypertrophy-focused training regimen for individuals aiming to enhance their lower body,” Stephenson explains.
Ukranian Deadlift Form Tips and Setup
This is not the most straightforward exercise to set up and execute, therefore, allow Dan Stephenson to elaborate on the setup and execution of the Ukrainian deadlift to ensure you derive maximum benefits from this innovative exercise.
Platform Height: The platform height used for Ukrainian deadlifts is subject to variation based on individual preferences and body proportions. The typical starting position should position the bar slightly above the feet, emulating the action of lifting an object from the ground. Given the extended range of motion, individuals should initiate the lift from a height that enables them to sustain a neutral spine position throughout. As strength and mobility progress with the range of motion, the starting position can be gradually lowered towards the ground.
Foot Placement: Position your feet on the platforms in a stance reminiscent of a squat, ensuring that the load aligns directly with the mid-foot. This ensures appropriate balance and alignment throughout the lift.
Grip and Hand Placement: Adopt a grip width that feels comfortable and secure. The load and arms should be positioned close to the body, ensuring a straight bar path throughout the lift.
Footwear: Utilize flat-soled shoes or opt to go barefoot to maintain stability and a firm connection with the ground.
Equipment: Utilize a heavy kettlebell, proper power pin, or T-bell that can be loaded with suitable weight plates for the desired deficit height.
Platform: Ensure that the platforms utilized for Ukrainian Deadlifts are stable and secure to mitigate any risk of slippage or instability during the lift.
Ukranian Deadlift Benefits
The Ukrainian deadlift is not for the faint-hearted, as the amplified range of motion puts your posterior through an unprecedented ordeal. However, as Stephenson expounds, there are substantial gains to be reaped from this taxing exercise.
Amplified Range of Motion
“By standing on an elevated surface, the lifter is compelled to raise the load from a lower position, expanding the range of motion. This can lead to heightened muscle activation and strength development, particularly in the posterior chain, encompassing the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.”
“The augmented range of motion in this deficit deadlift variation places added emphasis on the loaded stretch component of the muscles involved in the lift, fostering improved mobility and strength at length. This can enhance strength and hypertrophy gains in the targeted muscle groups.”
Improved Strength Off the Floor
“Deficit deadlifts such as the Ukrainian Deadlift can help address weaknesses in the initial phase of the lift, specifically for individuals grappling with strength off the ground. By training from a deficit, lifters can cultivate greater power and strength in the starting position of the deadlift, culminating in overall improved performance.”
Set and Rep Suggestions
Stephenson proposes load, set, and rep ranges to enhance strength, muscle, and mobility.
- Sets: 3-5 sets
- Reps: 1-5 repetitions per set
- Intensity: Utilize a weight that enables challenging yet controlled repetitions, with a focus on building strength and power.
- Sets: 3-4 sets
- Reps: 8-12 repetitions per set
- Intensity: Choose a weight that induces muscular fatigue within the target rep range, promoting muscle hypertrophy and endurance.
- Sets: 3-4 sets
- Reps: 6-8 repetitions per set
- Intensity: Select a weight that can be lifted safely and controlled during the lowering of each rep. Emphasize the slow, controlled lowering tempo and gradually enhance the range of motion over time.