The deadlift, also referred to as the King of the Lifts, is one of the most foundational and basic lifts across weightlifting. It's a brutal exercise in terms of execution, and if not performed with the right technique, it can lead to injuries and pain and even limit your strength training workout session.
Fortunately, there are certain exercises that can improve your deadlift form and execution. They include isolation-based and compound movements, which help enhance your overall performance by strengthening the muscles used most when deadlifting.
Here, we’ve listed a few of the most effective exercises to improve your deadlifting performance.
Exercises to boost deadlift performance
Here’s a look at five best exercises to improve your deadlift and strengthen your muscles along the way:
1) Farmer’s walk
Farmer’s walk or farmer’s carry improves grip strength, which is mostly what a deadlift focuses on. A weak grip can negatively impact your performance and lead to injuries as well.
To do it:
- With your feet at a shoulder-width distance, stand tall, and place your arms on your sides. Squat down, and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.
- Engage your core muscles, and bring your shoulder blades back and down while standing tall and returning to the initial position.
- With a weight in both hands and abs engaged, start walking a few steps ahead. As you walk, keep your shoulders back, head straight up, and abs fully engaged.
- Continue walking for a few steps, and return.
2) Romanian deadlift
This is another great exercise to improve your deadlift form, as it targets the same muscles and also reduces the chances of incorrect technique.
To do it:
- Hold a pair of dumbbells or a barbell just in front of you. Allow the weight to rest on your thighs.
- Engage your core, and pull your chest up as you bend your knees and push your hips back to lower the weight to the floor, keeping it close to your legs.
- Once your back gets parallel to the floor, hold, and return to the starting position.
3) Barbell row
It's an ideal exercise to improve your deadlift, as you learn how to lift the barbell off the ground correctly. Moreover, it also helps you learn to keep your spine in a neutral position, which is important during deadlifts.
To do it:
- Stand with a normal stance, and squat down with your knees bent. Grab the barbell with your hands wider than shoulder width, and extend your elbows so that they point outwards.
- Engage your core, and keep your spine neutral as you lift the barbell, and stand up. Ensure that your neck and head are aligned with your torso.
- Squeeze your abs, and bend forward so that your chest gets at a 60-degree angle with the floor.
- Start to row the barbell by keeping your torso stable and pulling the bar upwards towards your chest.
- Bring the bar back down, and repeat.
4) Hip thrust
Hip thrusts allow you to work with heavy weights and build up your confidence. Additionally, this exercise strengthens the muscles in the quads, glutes, and hips, which are major lower body muscles used while deadlifting.
To do it:
- Begin seated on the floor with your knees bent and feet wider than hip distance. Keep your toes turned out, and allow your upper back to rest against the edge of a bench.
- Position the barbell across your thighs, and grab onto the bar tightly to keep it in place.
- Squeeze your hips, and press the barbell up till your hips get in line with your knees and shoulders. Keep your abs tight, and tuck your chin in while pressing the barbell up.
- Slowly lower the bar till your hips get a few inches off the ground.
- Lift again, and repeat.
Shrugs are another key exercise that can help improve your deadlifting by developing and strengthening the muscles in the traps. When performing this exercise, though, remember that the heavier the weight, the more beneficial it is.
To do it:
- Start standing with the barbell in front of your body. Squat down, and hold the bar using a double overhand grip.
- Stand straight with your spine neutral, and contract your traps as you lift your shoulder muscles.
- At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulders hard, and slowly lower the bar to its starting position.
Give the aforementioned exercises a try next time you work out, and add a few to your regular strength training routine to enhance your overall deadlifting performance.
Be consistent with your practice, and most importantly, stay safe. Do not train too much too quickly, and do not increase the weight if you're unsure about your form.