Deadlifts for Women With Bad Knees

Knee injuries can -- but do no have to -- interfere with your ability to safely perform a deadlift.
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Personal trainers often advise women with bad knees to shun the deadlift exercise because of this exercise putting a considerable amount of stress on the knees. The lower center of gravity of the woman puts even more stress on exercises engaging the lower body, such as the deadlift. However, completely avoiding the deadlift will preclude you from the benefit of the exercise, which is working more than one dozen muscle groups at the same time. In fact, women with bad knees do not need to completely avoid the deadlift, as there are methods to alleviate the stress the movement puts on your knees.

    Step 1

    Estimate how much stress you are willing to put on your knees. If you wish to completely disengage the knees during the deadlift, prepare to follow the directions for a half deadlift. If you wish to use more of your lower body, putting some -- but not the standard amount -- stress on the knees, prepare for a three-quarter deadlift.

    Step 2

    Set up the safety bars in the squat rack for your selected deadlift type. For the half-deadlift, place the safety bars at the level equal to or slightly above your knees. For the three-quarter deadlift, place the safety bars at a level halfway between your knees and the ground.

    Step 3

    Load the barbell on top of the safety bars. Add weights on the barbell in equal amounts on both sides. If you have performed regular deadlifts before, you will know how much weight you can add – use the same amount of weight for this version of the deadlift. If this is your first attempt at a deadlift, begin with an unloaded barbell, adding weights only if you feel the unloaded bar is too light.

    Step 4

    Move into the starting position. Stand in front of the bar, hands gripping the barbell with an overhand grip. Bend your knees as you grip the bar, but do not let your back arch forward -- keep it straight by thrusting out your butt.

    Step 5

    Perform a deadlift from this position. Lift the bar off the safety rack, straightening your body as you do so. If you performed a three-quarter deadlift, you will need to push downward through your heels to lift the deadlift to your knees before straightening your body. Hold this position for two seconds and return the barbell to the rack, reversing the movement you just made.


    • A personal trainer will be able to help you with your deadlift form, preventing further risk of injury.


    • See a physician before starting a new workout routine or after an injury. Ask for advice on how much stress you should place on your knees. If your physician tells you to stay off your knees, perform half-deadlifts only, avoiding three-quarter deadlifts.

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