Planet Fitness is a fan-favorite for many reasons. From top-notch machines and equipment to a wide range of additional amenities, you can get them at practically every Planet Fitness gym around the world.
Not to mention that it is super cheap. At $10 a month, you can enjoy all the facilities you would find in most commercial gyms.
What many people like about Planet Fitness is that it always offers spacious strength sections where people can exercise comfortably without it getting too cluttered. In other words, it’s the perfect place to perform compound movements like deadlifting.
But can you do that?
There are many rumors swirling that Planet Fitness gyms have banned traditional deadlifts altogether.
Today, we’ll discuss if the rumors are true. And if they are, what are the possible reasons behind such a move? Let’s find out.
Can You Deadlift at Planet Fitness?
Unfortunately, Planet Fitness does not allow members to perform traditional deadlifts within their premises. This is mostly enforced because most PF gyms do not have bars or deadlift platforms where you can perform a deadlift without any issues.
The official reason for banning deadlifts, as per Planet Fitness, is that the franchise is concerned for the safety of its members. This makes sense to a certain degree.
Deadlifting is a complicated movement and it engages a lot of muscles at once. If you are not maintaining proper form or using the right technique, you might hurt yourself.
Many beginners who like the idea of lifting heavy weights often pick up chronic injuries because they simply don’t have an awareness of how to perform a deadlift correctly.
However, people do believe that there are some other underlying reasons why Planet Fitness banned deadlifting in their strength areas.
But there’s a bright light to this – if you cannot give up on deadlifting and like Planet Fitness too much to switch to a different place, there are some other alternatives that you can explore.
What Can I Replace the Deadlift with at Planet Fitness?
We will give you all the possible reasons why you might not be allowed to perform deadlifts inside Planet Fitness. We’ll discuss them shortly.
But don’t lose heart just yet. Even if you can’t do traditional deadlifts, there are some alternatives that you can try.
If you find the right deadlift substitute for yourself, you won’t have to leave one of the most affordable gym chains in the world.
Smith Machine Deadlift
All Planet Fitness gyms have Smith Machines. It is a piece of gym equipment that contains a barbell that is fixed inside a steel track. Thus, you can only move the barbell vertically, providing a safe alternative to traditional deadlifts.
Here’s how you can perform deadlifts using a Smith Machine at Planet Fitness:
- Adjust the height of the bar so that it is located at your mid-shin level. Make sure that you lock the bar securely in the machine.
- Get into the deadlifting stance. Make sure that your feet are hip-width apart. For better posture, make sure that you have trainers and coaches guide you at each step.
- Before lifting, make sure that you tighten your core and fire up your glutes to stabilize your lower-body muscles.
- Lift the barbell by pushing through your heels. Make sure that you keep your back straight and chest up.
- After completing the movement, lower the bar back down gently to the starting position by bending only your hips and knees. Make sure you maintain the straight back and chest-up position while doing so.
- Repeat the movement until you complete your set.
Because the barbell is locked in the machine, performing deadlifts using Smith Machines is relatively safer. But if you are a beginner, we recommend that you complete your set under the supervision of a trainer.
You should be able to find a kettlebell in most Planet Fitness gyms. Using Kettlebell is a good alternative to traditional deadlifts.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Place the kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
- Get into a proper deadlifting position with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and hinge at the hips to gently lower your body and pick up the kettlebell using both of your hands. Make sure that your back is straight and your chest is up.
- Lift the kettlebell by pushing through your heels. Make sure that your chest is up and back straight throughout the movement.
- Upon reaching the top, bring the kettlebell back down by bending at the hips and knees. Your back and chest should be in a similar position as before.
- Once the kettlebell is down, repeat the movement until you have completed the desired repetitions.
Dumbbell deadlifts can act as a decent substitute for traditional deadlifts as well.
However, it should be noted that lifting a barbell also engages your core, grip, and upper back muscles better.
So, if you are lifting just dumbbells, you will need to incorporate other exercises as compensation.
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward.
- Maintain the same position as you would in a normal deadlifting position.
- While lowering the dumbbells, keep them close to your body. Maintain a flat back and ensure that your hips move back behind your upper body and the knees are in line with your toes.
- At the bottom of the movement, pause briefly. Then push through your heels and return to the standing position while maintaining the same posture.
- Repeat the same movement.
Dumbbell Single Leg Deadlift
If you want to work your core muscles while performing dumbbell deadlifts, you should do it with one leg.
Since you’re completing the movement with one leg lifted off, your core muscles will be engaged to stabilize your body.
- Start by holding the dumbbell in one hand and lifting the opposite foot off the ground behind your hips with your knee bent slightly.
- Hinge forward at the hips while lowering your body and maintain a flat back while you are at it.
- When moving downwards, lower the dumbbell as you extend your lifted leg backward.
- Return to the standing position.
- Repeat the movement.
Smith Machine Rack Pulls
Another interesting alternative to traditional deadlifts or even Smith Machine deadlifts is an exercise that targets the muscles in the entire posterior chain as well as some upper-back muscles like traps – Smith Machine rack pulls.
The basic difference between a conventional deadlift and rack pulls is that in the latter, you start lifting weights from a greater height (usually just above the knees).
- Adjust the bar on the Smith Machine so that it is locked just above your knees. That will be the starting point of your rack-pulling movement.
- Obtain the shoulder-width stance and get into the position by slightly bending your knees and hips.
- Initiate the lift by pushing off your heels. Make sure that you maintain the standard deadlift position throughout the movement (straight back, chest out).
- After reaching the top range of the motion, lower yourself back to the starting point, not below that.
- Repeat the movement.
A lot of experienced bodybuilders perform cable pull-throughs to improve their traditional deadlifts or squats.
- Start by finding a cable machine with a rope attachment. Make sure that you perform this exercise at the lowest possible setting.
- Grab the rope with both hands and get into the position. Stand while facing away from the machine and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a step forward to create some tension in your arms. Start the movement by pulling the rope through your legs and bringing it to your hips. Maintain a straight back and chest-out posture during this movement.
- Now, reverse the movement by hinging forward at your hips. Allow the rope to pull your hips back. Make sure that your arms are straight throughout the entire movement.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Your other option is to try out exercises that engage similar muscles as deadlifting. Lunging is one such movement that can help you build lower body strength and stability.
This is especially useful for Planet Fitness members who don’t have access to heavy weights, as lunging can be done with lightweight equipment as well.
- Pick up some equipment of appropriate weight, perhaps a kettlebell or a dumbbell. If you are a beginner, try performing lunges at just body weight first.
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure that you keep your free arms at your sides.
- Take a big step forward with your strong foot. Maintain a straight-back position. Make sure that your core is engaged during this movement.
- Gently lower your body by bending the front knee and bringing your thigh parallel to the floor.
- Keeping your weight on your foot placed in front, push yourself back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement with the other leg until the desired number of repetitions is complete.
Now, let’s delve into why Planet Fitness has banned deadlifts.
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Why Can’t You Deadlift at Planet Fitness?
Deadlifting at Planet Fitness is strictly prohibited. But that’s not without reasons. There are plenty of factors that compelled the management at Planet Fitness to make this drastic move.
Let’s talk about some of them:-
First, we have the official reason stated by Planet Fitness on why they banned deadlifting within their premises. The global fitness chain is simply too concerned about one of its members trying to perform a deadlift and getting hurt in the process.
While this might seem laughable to experienced powerlifters and bodybuilders, it’s not the same for newbies.
Deadlifting is a complicated compound movement. If beginners don’t maintain proper form and technique, it might lead to various injuries, including vertebral fractures and other spine-related issues.
This is because deadlifting often requires heavy lifting and places a significant amount of load on the spine and lower back muscles. Thus, if your execution is incorrect, a lot of things can go wrong.
Unfortunately, it’s not just about form and technique. Even if beginners listen to their trainers and maintain the right posture while lifting heavy weights, they might still pick up serious injuries. This is because deadlifting movements require a lot of core strength. Beginners often don’t have the core stability needed to perform a deadlift.
As Planet Fitness mostly comprises beginners and casual exercisers, the chain decided it’s safer for the members to not perform deadlifts altogether.
If you have been working out at Planet Fitness, you might have heard of the infamous lunk alarm. While the chain seldom uses this feature, it’s still there in all Planet Fitness gyms.
So, what is this lunk alarm? It is basically a loud siren or a horn that can be triggered by PF staff members to discourage “lunking” behavior. This includes making loud noises while working out such as grunting or shouting, dropping weights on the floor, and being overly aggressive while exercising.
Planet Fitness has deployed this drastic measure in an attempt to promote a comfortable environment for members where nobody is intimidated by loud and aggressive gym-goers.
While the lunk alarm is still a controversial feature, many people believe that it is a necessary accessory for maintaining a judgment-free atmosphere inside Planet Fitness gyms.
With that in mind, it’s only natural that deadlifting is banned as well. It’s one of the most demanding exercises and people often grunt and shout while lifting heavy weights.
Moreover, many people tend to drop the barbells on the floor from a significant height after performing the last repetition, leading to disruptive noises and even floor damage.
If you have seen the environment inside different Planet Fitness studios, you must have noticed that they target a very specific clientele – the casual exercisers.
These are the people who have only recently started their fitness journey and do not perform hardcore exercises like deadlifts. Planet Fitness is also the perfect place for people who work regular jobs and don’t find a lot of time to work out but would still like to stay fit and healthy.
So, if they are targeting such a demographic, they have to make changes to ensure that these newbies feel safe and comfortable while exercising. Deadlifting is a high-end strength workout that can intimidate a lot of people.
Casual exercisers might even get uncomfortable seeing shredded bodybuilders lifting hundreds of pounds’ worth of weight easily.
Thus, Planet Fitness decided to ban deadlifts altogether for the sake of maintaining a comfortable environment for beginners.
Most Planet Fitness gyms are spacious enough. And that is a huge plus point, considering people are only paying $10 a month for such facilities.
But they also have to note that most of the franchise’s clubs face space constraint in the sense that they cannot add a lot of amenities.
Now, deadlifting requires proper platforms. These powerlifting platforms would require a large amount of space. And it’s not encouraged to perform deadlifts directly on the floor because the huge amount of weights can damage the floor and weaken the foundation.
With so many risks involved, commercial gyms like Planet Fitness believe that it’s better to just simply prohibit deadlifting completely.
Deadlifting is not the safest exercise. Traditional deadlifts require perfect form and technique. If you get your posture wrong, you will end up picking up a serious injury.
Similarly, dropping heavy barbells and plates on the floor might end up destroying the concrete foundation of the floor. The issue becomes even more prominent in the case of Planet Fitness because most of its clubs are located inside malls and sometimes on the upper floors, where the damage done can cause a lot of destruction.
To deal with all of these problems, Planet Fitness would have to invest heavily in getting good insurance coverage to deal with lawsuits from clients and other people.
That’s a huge amount of money and risk that most commercial gyms don’t want to bother themselves with and so ban deadlifting altogether instead.
Planet Fitness has a very specific image to maintain. They have always marketed themselves as a judgment-free zone for the average person. They don’t invite hardcore bodybuilders and weightlifters into their facilities.
Many beginners actually sign up at Planet Fitness because they like the idea of seeing like-minded individuals at the gym instead of ripped gym bros who might be intimidating to them.
So, if Planet Fitness starts allowing heavy-duty exercises like squats and deadlifts, they will lose their marketing message and a significant portion of their clients.
Thus, banning deadlifting was a strategic move on their part.
How much do you think your gym would have to spend on deadlifting set up? You’d guess it’s definitely lesser than the cost of all the machines they purchase.
What if we told you that is not the case?
See, purchasing smith machines or rowing machines is a one-off investment. You get them inside the gym, and you’re set for years. But that is not the case for deadlifting accessories.
First, you need to get plenty of barbells for everyone. Then, you need to buy a lot of plates. Keep in mind that deadlifting demands heavier plates that are usually not found at Planet Fitness gyms. So, that is a lot of extra money they would have to spend.
After this, the gym would need to spend regularly on maintaining the equipment and replacing the plates with chips and cracks on them. Moreover, the gym would also need to recruit more trainers to make sure that everyone is performing deadlifts correctly.
All of these extra costs just don’t seem worth it to commercial gyms like Planet Fitness, where only a small percentage of members would want to perform heavy weightlifting exercises.
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Deadlifting is banned in all Planet Fitness gyms across the world. But that doesn’t mean that you have to lose hope.
There are plenty of substitutes and alternatives that you can explore if you don’t want to give up on your membership.