If you want to get better at your sport, building a good base of strength is paramount. To paraphrase powerlifter Mark Bell, “Strength is never a weakness.”
Arguably the king of all exercises, the Deadlift can build overall strength and athleticism. There’s nothing more functional than lifting a heavy load off the floor. It works on the development of your entire body, especially your core and hip musculature.
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Unfortunately, the Deadlift is an exercise that gets butchered a lot and can be problematic, because the risk of injury is high if it’s performed improperly. It’s a technical lift that requires technical proficiency, and for most athletes that means it requires working on their weaknesses.
Here are four exercises that can help you improve your Deadlift. Incorporating them into your training program will not only improve your technique, but also increase the amount of weight you can lift.
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1. Front Squat
Your legs need to be very strong, as the Deadlift requires leg drive. If you want to build strong legs, you must do some form of squatting. The Front Squat is a great exercise because it requires thoracic extension (chest high), and, in contrast to the Back Squat, it reduces torque on the knees and puts minimal compression on the spine. The Front Squat exerts maximal muscle recruitment with minimal risk.
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2. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
The Romanian Deadlift places a huge emphasis on the development of your posterior chain—muscles that are critical if you want to get stronger, run faster and jump higher.
3. One-Arm Dumbbell Rows
If you want to pull some serious weight off the floor, you need a strong upper back. Moreover, developing your upper-back musculature can improve your posture, which translates to optimal positioning for the Deadlift.
4. Farmer’s Walks
If your grip stinks, it will negatively affect your performance. If you can’t hold onto the bar, how do you expect to execute the movement? Having a super-solid grip will enable you to lift heavy loads. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and start walking.