Performing a properly executed deadlift is beneficial for numerous reasons. However, increasing strength in the movement overtime should be every trainee's primary goal. To build strength in the deadlift, progressive overload and proper loading schemes are necessary. When these variables are paid attention to, accessory movements can further assist strength development. Before adding additional movements, address technical proficiency and training volume must first. To ensure that one is not building fitness on dysfunction. Weak individuals and poor movers should build a strong base before considering themselves with the bar's weight.
Accessory movements should be thought of as those that enhance a primary lift in some fashion. This differs from those who train purely for aesthetics, as accessory movements comprise the majority of training by way of single joint closed chain exercises. Accessory movements in proper strength training commonly employ compound multi-joint exercises intending to increase one's overall performance.
A rack pull is similar to a deadlift with a shortened range of motion. Start by placing the barbell or hex bar you have on elevated safety pins within a squat rack set somewhere right below your knee caps. From there, you will pick up the weight as if you were doing a deadlift, lock out your hips at the top, and return the weight down with sound form. The reason for executing this exercise is that it allows for one to load the movement heavier than what they could typically do in a standard deadlift by way of the shorter range of motion and increased leverage. It essentially attacks the common "sticking point" commonly seen just below the knees in a standard deadlift and provides an enhanced neuromuscular stimulus due to the greater load.
The next movement I employ when aiming to increase one's strength in the deadlift is the deficit deadlift. To set up this movement, stand on an elevated platform (preferably something solid like two side by side weight plates) and pick up the weight from the floor below. The elevated surface should be no greater than 3-4 inches. Otherwise, the movement becomes too compromised and somewhat unsafe. This movement is simply the inverse of a rack pull, in that it allows one to train the deadlift through an increased range of motion, whereas the rack pull uses a decreased range of motion. Many individuals run into a common issue when performing a conventional deadlift is not even able to get the bar off the floor. By training in a less than ideal manner with less leverage and pulling the weight further, one can achieve greater starting strength. It is important to remember that when performing a deficit deadlift, the weight will be lighter than a conventional deadlift. Maintaining a neutral spine and pelvis is of utmost importance.
A third but the certainly not least effective method I use for increasing deadlift strength is what's called overcoming isometrics. To perform this exercise, hold the barbell somewhere within the deadlift movement relative to your body (ideally directly above or below your knees) and set the safety racks in a squat rack directly above it. To execute this movement, you will pull the bar up into the racks you've set above it with as much force as you can. Hold this position for 5-6 seconds and repeat for no more than 3-4 sets. You can adjust the racks' height so that you are pulling the bar at different points within your deadlift movement. However, going too low or too high will not yield optimal results. Ensure that you are maintaining excellent form when executing this exercise and although it may not seem like much, do not over-do it with the volume as it is highly taxing to the nervous system.
Give these movements a shot if you've already nailed down a solid deadlifting technique and are looking for a way to improve your overall strength. Remember, they are simply tools to enhance performance and should be used to complement solid programming and technique. Thanks for reading.