The below article was written by a friend of mind-I have shown this exercise to many, many people, who have chronic bad backs, etc. and all have responded well with this movmement. kww
WIDE GRIP PARTIAL DEADLIFTS By David Maurice
Deadlifts are a great movement which involve most of the body. They are especially beneficial when done for moderate reps. When done with low reps, they can be a body wrecker, especially when the lifter is undisciplined or tries to lift too close to the limit too often. They can also be a body wrecker for those lifters who have body dimensions which make them inefficient deadlifters. Those lifters with short arms, which so often aid in a big bench press, may find themselves at a leverage disadvantage when deadlifting.
One response to the above problems has been to perform the quick pulls. These are very similar to the deadlift for that portion of the movement where the lifter take s the bar from the ground to about the knees, but these movements require less weight, so they are less likely to cause back rounding. Unfortunately that also means less weight on the bar for the rest of the movement. There is some compensation in this regard from the quick second pull. But the quick pulls have their own risks, both to backs and shoulders, and some people are less coordinated than others. Further, because the quick pulls are not done at levels close to the lifter's limits, multiple sets are usually done; some lifters simply do not enjoy training in this fashion.
Those who can do deadlifts safely and enjoy doing them will find them productive. Those who can do the quick pulls safely and enjoy doing them will find them productive. Those who push their limits in a lift for which they are poorly suited or trained may find that their training of that lift is unproductive, or even counterproductive in that they get injured. Lifters do get hurt performing all of these lifts.
For the lifter who is poorly suited for the above movements, or who simply wishes to gain the back benefits of such movements in comparative safety, there is a seldom used alternative which may merit trial. As the title gave away, that movement is the wide grip partial deadlift.
To perform the wide grip partial deadlift, set up with blocks or in a power rack so that the bar is anywhere between just below your knee caps to the center of your knee caps. To get your grip width, flex your lats like you want to show off, and then put your straight arms out and resting on the lats (you'll look like a dork). Anywhere between there and arms about 45 degrees out from your body will work. Use a pronated grip and use straps. The performance of these is just like that of a regular deadlift from the midpoint position, only with a wider grip. To really get benefit out of these, the lifter has to be good at fighting to pull the bar back at all stages of the lift. None of this "arm hanging down" nonsense. Not only can that lead to back rounding, it can be very hard on the shoulders. Start with the bar right against the knees, and drag the bar up and down the thighs. Try to think row - you can't row such a heavy bar, but you can sure try to pull your shoulders back and try to to touch your shoulder blades to each other. Again, this is just like a deadlift; only your grip position and range of motion has been changed.
Compared to regular deadlifts, these hit the upper back harder, the middle back as hard or harder, and don't give up much for strengthening of the erectors. At the same time, they take enough off the pounding the hips and low back get from regular deadlifts so as to not interfere with squats in those individuals that find squatting and deadlifting heavy in the same week to be too much. By the same token, since these don't do as much for hips and thighs as conventional deadlifts, the lifter better be really getting the job done on those parts with squats or leg presses.
Compared to a conventional partial deadlift, these will do more for the back with less spinal loading. Compared to snatch grip deadlifts, they allow heavier weights over a similar range of motion for the back muscles, while reducing the odds of aggravating the low back. Most importantly, they offer even the clutzy or short armed individuals a way of loading the muscles loaded in a deadlift or dynamic pull in relative safety.