Banded deadlifts are an exercise favored by many powerlifters. The use of a band helps with your form and is one of many tools that powerlifters utilize to make the most of their training sessions.
Banded deadlifts target your glutes, calves, hamstrings, shoulders, and back. It is important to keep a straight back for the duration of the movement to prevent injury. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings if you are carrying out the movement correctly.
This article will walk you through what a banded deadlift is and the 4 main reasons why they are beneficial to incorporate into your workout routine.
Banded deadlifts are done using a long resistance band, not a short one.
What is a banded deadlift?
A banded deadlift uses the same form as a regular deadlift. The main difference is that resistance bands are added to the barbell to help increase the difficulty of the lift.
When you lift the barbell off of the floor, the bands increase the resistance of the movement. This means that it becomes harder to complete the top of the lift than it is the base. You will be forced to generate more power with the bands than you would with just the barbell.
An alternate way to complete a banded deadlift just uses resistance bands without the barbell. This is useful for more novice powerlifters, to get used to the resistance.
How to attach the bands to the barbell
There are 2 main ways to do this. The most simple is to lie your resistance band out to form a long oval. Lay this across the top of your barbell with both of the looped ends touching the ground.
We recommend keeping the resistance band on the inside of your weight plates to prevent them from slipping off as you lift. Place both of your feet through these loops so that you have trapped the barbell inside the resistance band.
The alternative method only works if you have a platform rig with hooks or carabiners attached. If yours does. You can attach one resistance band to each hook. Slide the other end of the band over your barbell plates, so that they are sat on the inside.
When lifting very heavy weights, you can consider adding some padding to your barbell underneath the resistance bands. This will prevent the bands from fraying and tearing under the strain of the weight.
How to do a banded deadlift without a barbell
If you do not have a barbell to hand, or simply prefer not to use one, you can still do banded deadlifts.
Simply hold the long resistance band out in front of you and place both of your feet onto the center. Lift the two looped ends with either hand. Move as if you were doing a standard deadlift, using the resistance of the bands to work your muscles.
Benefit #1: it trains you to keep the barbell close
If the barbell moves away from your body it greatly reduces the power behind the lift. If the bar is far away from your body this can mean that the primary muscle group becomes solely the back rather than a combination of muscle groups.
This can lead to serious injuries such as a pulled back. Lifting with the proper technique ensures that all of your muscle groups are being engaged equally and you are not putting undue strain on one area.
Not only this but using a resistance band while deadlifting ensures that the bar is traveling in the correct direction as you lift it. The resistance supplied by the band forces you to maintain the correct techniques.
For a good deadlift, the path of motion should be a vertical line from the food to an equal level with your hips. Without resistance bands, you can end up dragging the barbell across your thighs. The bands give you a physical and visual reminder of the oath the barbell should be traveling in.
Over time, this will cause your lifting technique to improve both with and without the use of resistance bands.
Benefit #2: it stops your powerlifting from becoming lazy
A common issue with powerlifters is that they become lazy with their lifting techniques. This is when they do not use all of their force during the entirety of the lift.
By consistently forcing yourself to exert the maximum power available you will also train your body to lift with the fastest bar speed. This will then make it easier for you to break through sticking points.
A sticking point is where the speed of the barbell’s travel decelerates, making it harder to keep your momentum going. By increasing the speed of the barbell as you approach your sticking point, it becomes easier to move past it before you slow to a stop.
The addition of resistance bands makes it harder to move the barbell the last bit of the way.
This forces you to put more consistent effort into the lift and makes your training much more effective. In particular, resistance bands target the middle and top-end of the deadlift, where people commonly have issues.
Benefit #3: it helps your lats remain engaged
Your lats are one of the key muscle groups involved with deadlifts. They are located at the top of your back and must be engaged in order to perform a deadlift.
One of their primary functions is enabling you to keep the direction of the barbell’s travel straight. Engaging your lats will also help to keep the barbell close to your shins.
When you are deadlifting, your body’s natural response is to pull forwards and down due to the weight of the barbell. This effect will be increased with the addition of resistance bands.
If you do not have your lats engaged correctly then your upper back will bend and you will be pulled towards the ground.
The extra resistance supplied by the band will remind you to keep your lats engaged throughout the lift.
Benefit #4: it helps you to build strength
This is particularly applicable during the lock-out period. This is where people tend to struggle with their lifts and show the most obvious weakness. Using a resistance band will help you to load the upper half of the deadlift motion.
If you are struggling with the top end of your deadlifts, this is likely due to weak glutes. Using a resistance band during your lifts will help to train and target your glutes.
This is because you are employing a technique known as training specificity. In essence, you are training your muscles to move in the appropriate manner to conduct specific movements.
How much additional resistance do bands add?
There are many different types of resistance bands, all of which increase the resistance by varying levels. They often come in sets and tend to range from light to max.
Light resistance bands will be the thinnest and easiest to move. They increase the resistance by anywhere from 15 to 35 pounds and are good if you are deadlifting under 300 pounds.
Medium resistance bands are best suited to people deadlift 300 to 400 pounds. They will increase the weight resistance by about 30 to 50 pounds.
Heavy resistance bands are designed for people lifting between 400 and 500 pounds. They will add about 50 to 80 pounds of resistance to your lift.
Max resistance bands are the heaviest. They are for people who deadlift in excess of 500 pounds and will provide from 70 to 100 pounds of extra resistance.
What happens if your glutes are not warmed up?
You should always take the time to correctly activate your glutes before you attempt to deadlift heavy weights.
This is because you are very prone to injury if you do not warm up properly. This is caused by other muscle groups overcompensating to make up for the lack of glute strength.
This then means that you are potentially overexerting your other muscle groups, and are very likely to pull or strain something.
The most common injuries sustained because of this are found in the knee joints, calves, and ankles. Strengthening your glutes means that you will have more power available during your lift, so you can move more weight.
How can you warm up your glutes?
It is a good idea to begin your warm up with simple bodyweight exercises. These include clamshells, bridges, and squats.
Once you have done this, we suggest repeating them with the addition of a resistance band. This will force your muscles to work harder, warming them up adequately for the intense strain they are put under when deadlift.
Other benefits of deadlift
Deadlifts are a great exercise to do if you are aiming to increase your grip strength. As you lift the barbell up, you will be working against the force of gravity.
Adding a resistance band to this means that you will also need to be working against a slight forwards pull.
Deadlifts combine the use of multiple muscle groups to enforce the range of motion. This is what is known as a compound exercise. They are very useful if you are trying to lose weight as they burn a lot of calories, therefore triggering weight loss.
Repeated deadlifting will result in muscle growth. This in turn boosts your resting metabolic rate, meaning that you burn more calories. This continues long after you have finished lifting and is very useful if you are looking to lose weight and tone up.
The combination of all of the muscles used to perform a deadlift improves your posture. This is because you must tense your core and back to perform it correctly. As you train these muscles, your strength and core stability will increase. Over time, this will lead to a positive change in your resting posture.
The deadlift is a relatively safe exercise to perform. Unlike with bench presses where you could get squashed under the weight of the barbell, deadlifts do not place you directly under the path of the weight.
This means that if you feel you cannot complete a lift, it is perfectly safe to let go of the barbell and allow it to fall in front of you. This is an exercise where you can attempt heavy lifts without the need for a spotter.
Deadlifts can increase the hormone levels in your body, particularly growth hormones and testosterone. Testosterone is vital for muscle repair and growth. The pituitary gland is what produces your growth hormone.
This is involved in the strength of your bones, muscle growth, the healing of tissues, and fat loss.
Doing repeated repetitions of deadlifts will improve your cardiovascular health. This is because it is a whole body exercise and places a high demand on your muscles.
This also strengthens the muscles surrounding your ligaments and tendons. This means that your risk of injury will be much reduced.
Deadlifting is one of the most useful training exercises you can perform. Unlike most other powerlifts, deadlifts employ a range of motion that you can use in your everyday life.
It is the same movement as picking up a heavy box, meaning it is hugely applicable to everyone.
Types of deadlifts
There are 7 main deadlift variations. These are the classic, sumo, hex (trap bar), snatch grip, Romanian (stiff legged / straight legged), hack lift, and deficit deadlifts. All are slightly different and require a slight variance in form.
Each deadlift will work out a different area of your body in a different manner. All have their own benefits, and it is a good idea to switch up the type you are performing.
There are likely to be one or two variations that you are most fond of, we suggest experimenting with styles to see which works best for you.
It is advised for beginners to start with the Romanian deadlift as this is the most basic. Move up from here to the trap, then sumo, then conventional deadlifts.