Build Hip Muscles Using the Deadlift and Its Variants

multi-joint exercises resistance training
Woman. Modified deadlift exercise.

Build strong hip and back muscles.

The deadlift exercise is an advanced exercise based on the hip hinge motion that targets lower back, gluteal and hamstring muscles. Although the traditional deadlift is an advanced exercise, variations of the movement transform it into exercises that are suitable for most people. The advantage of using these variants in workouts is that these exercises build lower back, hip and quadriceps muscle strength.

Variations of the traditional deadlift include:

  1. Romanian deadlift.
  2. Stiff-legged deadlift.
  3. Hip thrust.
  4. Suitcase lift.
  5. Reverse cable pull through.
  6. Roman chairs.

To incorporate these lifts, follow these power programming tips:

  • Prior to initiating a hip hinge-based workout program, make certain that the core strength is there to support the motion, especially in the erector spinae. This is a must as exercises that stress the lower back, if not strong enough to sustain the muscle contraction and lift the weight, can lead to injury.
  • The exerciser should have intermediate to advanced knowledge of exercise mechanics. Basic kinesthetic awareness is a must - knowing what the exercise looks and feels like will reduce the risk of injury and increase the effectiveness of that exercise.
  • Single-legged Romanian deadlift is the best exercise to activate the gluteal muscles based on current research (Collings, 2023); however, this is an advanced exercise requiring balance and motor coordination not suited to everyone.
  • Single-legged hip thrust is also a good choice to activate the gluteal muscles and not quite as advanced (Collings, 2023). It can be made easier by doing it in a supine position on the floor or mat.
  • Roman chairs are a good choice for hamstring muscles – focus on the upper part of that motion  for maximum benefit (Anderson, 2023).
  • Variations like suitcase lifts turn deadlift variants into functional exercises.


  • Use LOADED long duration, long length muscle contractions training to reduce muscle stiffness (Kawama, 2023).

Hip hinges, the motion of a deadlift and its variants, are excellent choices to increase lower back, hip and quadriceps muscle mass, strength, and power. 

To learn more about hip hinge and deadlift training and earn PT CEUs, click here.


1. Andersen V, Pedersen H, Fimland MS, Shaw M, Solstad TEJ, Stien N, Cumming KT, Saeterbakken AH. Comparison of Muscle Activity in Three Single-Joint, Hip Extension Exercises in Resistance-Trained Women. J Sports Sci Med. 2021 Mar 5;20(2):181-187. doi: 10.52082/jssm.2021.181. PMID: 33948095; PMCID: PMC8057707.

2. Collings TJ, Bourne MN, Barrett RS, Meinders E, Gonçalves BAM, Shield AJ, Diamond LE. Gluteal Muscle Forces during Hip-Focused Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2023 Apr 1;55(4):650-660. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003091. PMID: 36918403.

3. Kawama R, Hojo T, Wakahara T. Acute changes in passive stiffness of the individual hamstring muscles induced by resistance exercise: effects of muscle length and exercise duration. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2023 Mar;123(3):655-666. doi: 10.1007/s00421-022-05092-1. Epub 2022 Nov 17. PMID: 36394605.

Author Biography

Amy Ashmore, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a physical therapy continuing education provider located in Las Vegas, NV.


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