Artesin saidI have a current workout that uses deadlifts to hit hams but ti also makes heavy use of extensions, which doesnt really seem practical as id never be moving weight like that outside the gym.
why does the practicality of the lift matter?
There are a lot of lifts that don't seem practical at all. ie. bench press, most of the olympic lifts (unless you're a cheerleader or dancer, or you throw something over your head on a regular basis), squats (unless you walk around town with a yoke on your shoulders), pull-ups/chin-ups (unless you climb walls on a regular basis), etc.
A lot of strength coaches involved in athletics will tell you that the further away the lift looks to the technique in the sport that it's being used, the better, because it will mess with the technique, as adding weight changes the force-producing action to that technique.
Deadlifts are prolly one of the best exercises in the gym as it works the whole posterior chain: hamstrings, glutes, lower back, lats and traps. I wouldn't be too quick to find a sub for it.
Glute ham raises are good too for the lower half of the posterior chain. Downside to it is it's a slower learning curve having to learn the movement. Deadlifts mimic the movement of lifting a heavy object off the floor (say a couch) so that movement is already somewhat lingering in your nervous system somewhere.
Youtube link to glue ham raiseshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfu_cqHZBGs