The great thing about deadlifts? They offer major benefits, including joint strengthening and muscle building, and there are several ways to do them. Case in point, Kate Upton’s longtime trainer, Ben Bruno, recently shared clips of the model and actress demonstrating two deadlift variations using heavy weights in a recent Instagram post.
The videos show Upton doing trap bar deadlifts (which Bruno calls one of his favorite exercises in the caption of his post). These are done with a piece of equipment called — you guessed it — a trap bar. Trap bars typically have a hexagonal shape that you can stand inside of, so the bar surrounds your lower body. It also has two handles for you to grip.
In the first variation, Upton does traditional trap bar deadlifts, standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with the trap bar on the ground. She hinges her hips and bends her knees to grip the bar, keeping her back flat before straightening her legs and pushing her hips forward to stand tall. Then, she hinges her hips back again and bends her knees to return the weights back to the ground.
In the second clip, Upton does staggered stance trap bar deadlifts, which are used “to bias one leg at a time,” writes Bruno in his caption. For this exercise, Upton stands with her left leg slightly in front of her right leg. Then, she goes through the same motion of hinging her hips and bending her knees to pick up the trap bar and place it back down with each rep.
If you’re interested in attempting these variations during your next workout but find heavy weights intimidating, you’re not alone. Upton didn’t jump fearlessly into the world of heavy lifting either, according to Bruno’s post. “@kateupton has come a lonnng way in the gym. She used to be very apprehensive to lift heavy weights, but now she’s the one asking me to bump the weight up,” writes Bruno in his caption. “Strength training does wonders for the body and the mind. I love to see the transformation,” he adds.
Weight training can define your muscles, burn serious calories, and feel pretty darn empowering, Shape previously reported. The benefits extend far beneath the surface, too: Lifting weights can also improve performance, prevent injuries, increase flexibility, and even boost heart health. And before you ask, no, lifting heavy weights won’t make you bulk up if that’s not your fitness goal.
“Many women express concern regarding lifting heavy weights in the gym: They don’t want to look bulky or hurt themselves,” says Mallory Fox, MS, DHSc, a NASM-certified master trainer who holds NASM specializations in corrective exercise and performance enhancement . It’s difficult to build muscle size, she explains. “It takes time, consistency, proper nutrition, and programming to increase muscle hypertrophy (aka the size of the muscle fibers).” So, unless you’re working toward that specific goal, you don’t have to worry about unintentionally bulking by adding weights into your routine.
In fact, lifting heavier weights can actually help prevent injury and burn more calories post-workout and while you’re at rest, she adds. “Strong muscle tissue tends to take up less space in the body,” she explains. “Lifting heavy weights can also increase body confidence and stamina — both inside and outside of the gym.”
Although heavy weightlifting may seem intimidating at first, you can look to Upton as an example of how you might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of in the gym, especially if you have an encouraging trainer to help you safely level up your routine.