How to find the right accessory movement to build a bigger deadlift

Are you still doing each and every accessory on the gym floor you can think of to improve your deadlift? What if you could save some time and spend all that energy you have left after your main lifts on accessory exercises that you actually need?

Here are 3 simple steps to indicate your own accessory movements that will benefit your deadlift and also give you an understanding of why you are doing them.

Step 1 - Know your weak points

At Desert Barbell we look at the deadlift as a combination of power in your legs and hips, bracing, and upper back & shoulder stability. Knowing where you struggle the most will give you an indication of what you need to be doing to improve it.

Step 2 - Assess

Take a video of your deadlift, so you can see what is actually happening when you are performing the movement. What we do here in Desert Barbell when we assess clients during their first personal training sessions or on boarding process as an online client is that we look at things like:

  • Hips, knees and ankle movement that will be an indication of not being able to produce enough force when you deadlift,
  • any movement in your spine would that be rounded or arched that would be related to your bracing, and
  • rounded upper back or shoulders rotated inwards would be a sign of poor shoulder stability and thoracic extension.

Step 3 - Finding your perfect match

Let’s say for instance that when you reviewed your lifts, you discovered rounding in your shoulders as soon as the bar goes of the floor, and this what makes you fail your deadlift at the lock out, then you could consider including exercises such as lateral pull down or seated rows to improve that stability in your shoulders. 

If, for example, your hips rise to fast and you fail just below your knee, then  adding a leg press movement would likely be a good idea to work on that torque in your hips for better stability.

We also see many people who would find themselves rounding the back on deadlifts. By adding RDLs in your program, and focusing on your bracing using lower loads, will usually translate to better bracing and a better back position over time in the main lift.

If this is something you struggle with, and are actively trying to correct it, then book on to one of our technical clinics and let one of our coaches help you to identify what areas need work and how to address this.

This article was prepared by Desert Barbell Strength Coach and a Dubai based Personal Trainer Olga Kravchenko.

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