The deadlift is a compound strength-training exercise that involves multiple groups of muscles including the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps as well as the lower back and core. While not everyone has the strength or ability to perform a deadlift, there are exercises that can be substituted for them using only your body weight. These exercises are just as beneficial as the deadlift, and can be just as challenging.
Single Leg Deadlift
The body-weight single leg deadlift is the perfect substitution for the traditional deadlift. It uses no weights, although it can be done with weights for added difficulty. Because it requires balance it maximizes core benefits. To perform, stand with feet together with your arms at your sides. Hinge from the hips and lowly bring your hands down towards the floor, bringing your left leg up behind you. Your back should be straight and your right knee should be slightly bent. Once you feel the stretch in the back of your right leg or your hands touch the floor, return to the starting position. Switch legs. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
Deadlifts target primarily the back of the body. The stability ball hamstring curl rivals the benefits of the deadlift with just your body weight. To perform, lie on your back with your hands by your sides and your calves resting on a stability ball. Straighten your body by lifting your hips off of the floor, and slowly pull the ball in towards your glutes. Allow your feet to roll on top of the ball. Slowly reverse the movement back to the start. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
A glute bridge is similar to the stability ball hamstring curl; however, the glute bridge largely targets the glutes. To perform, lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core and lift your hips off the ground, pressing your heels to the floor for stability. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Slowly return to the start. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
Lying Hip Extension
The lying hip extension is simply a single leg glute bridge. Doing the move with only one leg puts added pressure on the support leg, targeting the leg muscles and glutes more. To perform, lie on your back with your knees bent and hands by your side. Next, straighten your leg leg. Lift your hips off of the floor and bring your left leg up with your body to form a straight line from your shoulders to your toes. All of your weight should be supported by your right leg and shoulders. Slowly lower and switch sides. Do three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.