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Barbell Russian Dead Lifts

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Russian dead lifts are a classic barbell exercise that many power lifters use to train their legs and core. Your arms remain hanging straight in front of you holding the weighted barbell as you use your legs to squat and stand, and your core to balance the weight of the barbell.

Muscles Worked

Starting Position
Stand upright in front of a weighted barbell with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and take up a modified squat position, with your knees slightly bent, hips pressed slightly back, and back flat. Your chest should be high, head forward, and neck in line with your spine. From the modified squat, grip the barbell with both hands about shoulder-width apart and palms facing you. The barbell should be at the level of the middle of your shins, either resting on the floor (if the plates are large) or held off the floor in your hands. Keep the majority of your weight back on your heels, while still applying pressure through the balls of your feet (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, keeping your chest forward, use your legs to lift the barbell and stand up straight to a fully upright position. Focus on using your legs to lift and your core engaged throughout to protect your back (see Photos 2 and 3).
  2. When you are standing upright, hold for a moment, and then press your hips behind you and bend your knees as you sit back down into a squat. Keep your back flat as you squat down. Lower the barbell to the floor or down to your shin level starting position, and then immediately move into the next repetition (see Photos 4 and 5).
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.