How to optimize your exercise selection from the gang of nine - Part 4

If you use dumbbells, restrict the range of motion by deadlifting from sturdy crates or platforms. Find the right height of crates or platforms for you that permits the fullest safe range of motion without any rounding of your lower back.

Although it's a form of the deadlift, the parallel-grip deadlift can involve the thighs to a greater extent than the regular straight-bar deadlift, because of the increased knee flexion. This has led to the parallel-grip deadlift being used as an alternative to the squat.

Both the parallel-grip deadlift and the squat can be highly effective, depending on the individual user, and the technique used. Squat aficionados need to understand that the squat isn't as effective for everyone as it may be for them, and parallel-grip deadlift aficionados need to understand that the exercise isn't as effective for everyone as it may be for them.

You can't change your body structure — limb lengths, the relative proportions of femur length to tibia length, and relative proportions of torso length to limb lengths, and upper limbs to lower limbs. All these factors have substantial influence on deadlifting, parallel-grip deadlifting and squatting efficiency. Through adjusting your technique and exercise selection you can modify the effects of your body structure on your training and physique.

Some trainees who are structurally well built for the squat get tremendous thigh development from the squat. Some others, with different structures, are ungainly squatters who can't avoid leaning over heavily. This turns the movement into more of a lower-back exercise than a thigh one, and greatly increases the risk of injury. Among those who can't squat well no matter what flexibility, technique, training program, or weight progression adjustments they make, and among those who can't squat safely because of knee or back limitations due to injury or accident, some have found the parallel-grip deadlift (with bent knees) to be a godsend — it has enabled them to train their thighs safely and effectively like the squat never could.

The biggest disadvantage of the parallel-grip deadlift is the lack of universal supply of the required bar. Conversely, almost all gyms are set up for the squat. Considering the whole strength-training population, few trainees have tried the parallel-grip deadlift as compared with the squat. But out of the relatively few users of the parallel-grip deadlift, there has been much success, often from trainees who previously didn't do well on the squat.

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