The two-handed deadlift works the muscles in both the upper and lower body, including the upper and lower back, chest, buttocks, thighs, abdominals, arms and calves. Besides increasing strength, it helps improve posture and grip. The deadlift also speeds up your heart rate and taxes the cardiovascular system, which helps you to burn calories. As always, check with your doctor before performing any new exercise, especially if you have a prior back injury or medical condition.
Stand in front of a weighted barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward. Squat down and grasp the barbell with an alternating grip, where one hand is facing you and the other is facing away. Slowly stand with the barbell, straightening your hips and knees simultaneously. Rest the barbell against the front of your thighs. Lower yourself back into a squat position and repeat. Aim for a total of 12 repetitions. Add another set as your strength improves.
You can use a kettlebell or a set of dumbbells to perform two-handed deadlifts if you do not have access to a barbell. If it is more comfortable, hold the weight with both palms facing up or both palms facing down. Be sure that you wrap your fingers completely around the weight no matter which grip you choose. For an alternate version, perform the sumo two-handed deadlift where you stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outward.
Breathe properly as you do the deadlift. Exhale as you raise the weight and stand up. Inhale as you lower yourself back to the starting position. To help increase leverage, keep the weight close to your body as you lift and lower. Always practice proper form. Keep your head in line with your spine, your heels flat on the floor and your chest up throughout the entire exercise. Lift and lower your shoulders and hips simultaneously.
Keep your abdominal muscles tight and contracted to help protect and stabilize your back. Never round or arch your back while lifting as this can lead to back pain and injury. Do not allow your knees to travel past your toes when you squat. This puts pressure on the joints in your knees and can cause injury. Start out with a lighter weight and gradually work your way up to more weight as your strength increases and you master the motions of the two-handed deadlift.
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