The deadlift has the reputation of being the king of all lifts when it comes to building mass throughout the body.
They hit the core and the muscles that surround it including the lower back, glutes and abdominal muscles. They also target the lats as well as the traps for overall development and thickness.
The deadlift starts from the ground with a loaded barbell or bar, you proceed to lift it off the ground to the level of the hips, and then lower back down to the ground.
This is a real telltale of one’s strength because of the fact that the exercise is done from the floor, it acts as “dead” weight which gives it its name….the deadlift.
Today I am going to give you the exercises I used to build my deadlift to over a quarter of a ton (500+lbs).
1. Barbell Row
The barbell row is one of the main exercises I use to build up my deadlift.
When it comes to increasing not only your deadlift but your bench and squat, having a thick back is extremely vital to your success.
For the bench and squat, it helps with stabilization, but for the deadlift, it helps with developing that overall power to get the bar off the ground and to the hips.
The barbell row allows you to lift the heavyweight while in a rowing motion.
Because you’re using the same bar you would use to deadlift, it also allows you to build your grip strength as well which will translate to a stronger deadlift.
Another benefit to this lift is the ability to train for explosiveness while engaged in hip flexion.
When you are performing a deadlift with proper form, your hips will be engaged in the movement and you should be using your whole body to explode off the ground.
The barbell row helps with this and it will transfer to the deadlift as well.
2. T-Bar Row
The T-bar row is another great exercise for building that back thickness.
It targets the whole back and also aids in training your stabilizer muscles as well.
This is another exercise that can be trained with explosiveness in mind; you can explode during the concentric part of the movements.
On the eccentric part of the movement, slowly lower the weight and let your lats stretch for the full benefits of the lift.
The T-bar row will build your overall pulling strength which will increase your deadlift.
Many athletes such as New England Patriots Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski use this as one of his main exercises for developing strength.
“I always try to load as many plates as possible on the T-Bar Row. I get my mind right and then I explosively lift the weight as many times as I can, not necessarily focusing too much on the form or keeping my torso parallel to the floor. As an athlete, I can easily say that the majority of my pulling strength comes from heavy rows” – Rob Gronkowski
This is one of those exercises that so many people neglect but have so many profound benefits to it.
It will help grow your lower back extremely fast while also building your kinetic chain.
Your central nervous system is a key component that allows you to lift heavyweight, especially on the deadlift.
The more you work on building your kinetic chain, the more overloads your body will be able to take.
This is why deadlifting more frequently doesn’t always result in an increase in deadlift because you can easily fry your nervous system.
Many powerlifting programs will actually only have you deadlifting once a week because of this very reason.
The hyperextensions help to increase the load your nervous system can take.
It also grows your hamstrings and glutes which will increase the leg drive for deadlifts.
4. Farmers Walk
Farmer’s walks are a great tool to build your forearms and increase your grip strength at a rapidly fast rate.
One of the most important aspects of deadlifts is being able to have a strong grip on the bar when performing the movement.
This is why many powerlifters use chalk to improve their grip on the bar.
Farmer’s walks also help to grow your traps which over time will widen your back and make it thicker.
Anything that grows your back will help to increase your deadlift.
5. Good Mornings
Yet another exercise that strengthens your posterior chain is good mornings.
Good mornings are great for strengthening the muscles running up and down the spinal column, which will be heavily involved whenever you’re performing deadlifts.
It also helps develop stability and balance which can only aid in your deadlift.
6. Hip thrusts
The key to maximize your deadlift is to implement your lower body as much as possible.
This is because your legs and glutes are the biggest muscles in your body, so why not use them.
The challenge lies with having the proper mind-muscle connection to activate them during the movement.
Often times, many people will overcompensate using their back instead of their lower body as well. This can lead to injury and also will limit your potential on the deadlift.
Hip thrusts are a great exercise for developing your glutes and mind-muscle connection.
This will help you mostly with your lockout at the top of the movement.
Dumbbell or barbell shrugs are the number one exercise to develop your traps.
Your traps play a vital role in allowing you to get the bar off of the ground so the more you emphasize growing them, the more your strength should increase over time.
Some tips on shrugs would include mixing it up. What I mean by this is constantly changing the rep range.
Doing sets of 15-20 as well as sets of 4-5 with a heavier weight that was you get strength gains while surprising your muscles constantly.
You can also change the angle that you’re hitting your traps by making an adjustment to your elbow and where it’s angled during the beginning of the movement.