Pump Up Your Posterior With The Ukrainian Deadlift

Exercises with Eastern European names not only sound cool but are also challenging to do. The Bulgarian split squat is exhibit A, the exercise everyone loves to hate. A few months back, I called it by its other name, The rear-foot-elevated split squat, and the internet lost its marbles. It happens that people like exercises with Eastern European names and what can be more Eastern European sounding than the Ukrainian deadlift.

If you love challenging exercises, you will love (or hate) the hybrid squat and deadlift variation, the Ukrainian deadlift. The challenge is in the setup and the increased range of motion on your posterior muscles. When you take your muscles through a larger ROM with a pre-stretch before the muscle contraction, there are perfect conditions for muscle growth. Dan Stephenson, CSCS, strength coach with 20 years of experience, introduces you to deficit deadlift variation that will pump up your glutes.

Advantages of Performing Deficit Deadlifts

The increased ROM demands more from your upper back, lower back, and hip mobility, making this an advanced deadlift variation. If you have any issues with mobility or lower back pain, it’s best to avoid deficit deadlift variations like the Ukrainian deadlift. Deficit deadlifts are a significant variation to improve your conventional deadlift as they focus on the weakness of being slow off the floor. Plus, the extra ROM does wonders for your lower back strength.

The Ukaranian Deadlift

“The elevated position of the Ukrainian deadlift creates a deeper range of motion than traditional deadlifts. The increased range of motion mimics the pick on common strongman implements such as Atlas Stones and sandbags. It is a beneficial exercise for lifers looking to improve their performance in strongman events and functional movements, such as moving your buddy’s couch.

This variation offers several benefits and can be a valuable addition to a strength and hypertrophy-focused training program for anyone looking to improve their lower body,” explains Stephenson.

Ukranian Deadlift Form Tips and Setup

It’s not the most straightforward exercise to set up and perform. Let Dan Stephenson explain the setup and performance of the Ukrainian deadlift so you will get the most out of this innovative exercise.

Platform Height: The platform height used for Ukrainian deadlifts can vary based on individual preferences and body proportions. The traditional starting position should have the bar slightly above the feet, simulating picking up an object from the floor. Given the extra ROM, lifters should start at a height where they can maintain a neutral spine position throughout. As strength and mobility improve with the ROM, you can lower the starting position closer to the floor.

Foot Placement: Position your feet on the platforms in a squat-like stance so that the load is directly in line with the mid-foot. This ensures proper balance and alignment throughout the lift.

Grip and Hand Placement: Use a grip width for a comfortable and secure grip. The load and arms should be positioned close to the body, maintaining a straight bar path throughout the lift.

Footwear: Wear flat-soled shoes or go barefoot to maintain stability and a strong connection with the ground.

Equipment: Use a heavy kettlebell, proper power pin, or T-bell that can be loaded with appropriate weight plates for the desired deficit height.

Platform: Ensure the platforms used for Ukrainian Deadlifts are stable and secure to prevent any risk of slipping or instability during the lift.

Ukranian Deadlift Benefits

The Ukrainian deadlift isn’t for the faint of heart, as the additional ROM taxes your posterior like never before. But there is gain to go with this pain, as Stephenson explains.

Increased Range of Motion

“By standing on an elevated surface, the lifter is required to pull the load from a lower position, increasing the range of motion. This can lead to greater muscle activation and strength development, particularly in the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.”

Enhanced Mobility

“The increased range of motion in this deficit deadlift variation places additional emphasis on the loaded stretch component of the muscles involved in the lift, leading to greater mobility and development of strength at length. This can improve 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, particularly for individuals who struggle with strength off the floor. By training from a deficit, lifters can develop greater power and strength in the starting position of the deadlift, leading to improved overall performance.”

Set and Rep Suggestions

Stephenson suggests load, set, and rep ranges for improved strength, muscle, and mobility.

For Strength

  • Sets: 3-5 sets
  • Reps: 1-5 repetitions per set
  • Intensity: Use a weight that allows for challenging but controlled repetitions, focusing on building strength and power.

For Muscle

  • Sets: 3-4 sets
  • Reps: 8-12 repetitions per set
  • Intensity: Select a weight that induces muscular fatigue within the target rep range, promoting muscle hypertrophy and endurance.

For Mobility

  • 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 slowly progress the range of the motion over time.

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