The deadlift is one of the most effective lifts one can do to develop total body strength. There is a tremendous amount of muscular recruitment both in the upper and lower body as well as a tremendous demand on core strength. For most of us, the deadlift is our heaviest lift because of the mechanical leverage and amount of muscle used. Picking something up off the ground is something we will always want the capacity to do.


It is very interesting to see the transferability of this lift to many other tasks. In track throwing athletes, a higher deadlift usually equates to longer throws of the shot and discus. In football players, a bigger deadlift can equate to a higher vertical jump or 40 yard dash time. Even in an arm wrestler, a higher deadlift can result in greater grip strength and pulling power. The motor patterns that the deadlift develops will spill over into most high powered tasks.

So what are some ways that we can develop a greater deadlift outside of just practicing the lift repetitively? Many of us experience a plateau in progress of this lift after the initial adaptation when we are first introduced to it. Here are some variations of the lift to help you change things up. Creating a new stimulus will keep your body adapting and progressing.

Deadlift from the toes (Deficit Deadlift)

Stand on a platform or a plate so that the bar is lower than it would normally be (just above the foot). This will force greater range of motion and put a demand on flexibility when performing the lift. Try this for 3-5 sets of 1-7 reps.

Deadlift from pins (Rack Pulls)

Set the bar up on pins or blocks so that the bar is just above the knee. With shorter range of motion and more leverage you will be able to move greater weight than a traditional deadlift from the floor. This will tax grip strength and the ability to lock out the lift. Try this for 1-5 sets of 1-5 reps.

Banded Pulls (Accommodating Resistance)

Stand on a light resistance band and hook the ends up to the collars on each side of the bar. This will provide a changing level of resistance. As you move up to a stronger range of motion, the resistance becomes greater. Try to move with speed to maximize to muscular recruitment. This should be done at 60-70% of 1RM for 8-10 sets of 2-3 reps.