girls squatting, women powerlifting

Article by  Deanna Gerdesmeier Photo by 10Leaves

Building a big back is important to build a strong foundation for all three power-lifts, but will play a very large role in your deadlift success.  Adding in more back accessory work in addition to your main lifts will increase the weight you’re able to deadlift.  As an extra plus, it will also get you in great shape to show off your gains for Girls Who Powerlift #Backitupmonday on Instagram.

Adding the below accessory work in with your more specific (RDL’s, Stiff Leg deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, or training with bands or chains) will build a larger back and stabilize proper deadlift form.

Row Row Row Your Boat
Try these variations with the standard dumbbell or cable row.

Kroc Rows:  Kroc rows are a high-repetition variation to the standard dumbbell row that work your lats, shoulders, and biceps. This version uses more of the entire body with slight shrug, and sets are higher-volume, ideally 20 or more reps.  The higher reps have the added benefit of really challenging your grip.  Video HERE

Pendlay Rows: This bent-over barbell row was popularized by Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.  The barbell is pulled from the floor from a position that is similar to a deadlift stance.  They build up your traps, lats, rhomboids, and rear delts. Video HERE

Yates Rows: Six-time Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates popularized this form of barbell row. This is a standing row with a focus on the upper back in the traps and delts. Our suggestion is to make sure to lift with a pronated grip (palms facing away from you) rather than supinated (palms toward you) grip to avoid the increased risk for biceps tears. Video HERE

Not So Basic Cable

Cable Pull-Throughs: These will really work on your glutes (I know. Not really back work, but it is your backside, so it counts.) Adding in this extra glute work will helps in locking out the top of the deadlift. As you complete the movement, your should be pulling with the hips rather than with shoulders or upper body. Video HERE

Lat Pulldowns: Growing your lats increases stabilization in the deadlift. In addition to being functional accessory for powerlifting, builder larger lats will create a V-Taper body shape. Video HERE 

Mo' Work

Shrugs: Paul Carter says Traps are the new abs.  Build up your traps by adding dumbbell shrugs into your accessory work.  When deadlifting, your traps play a major role in forcing your shoulders back into lockout. Do yourself a favor and check out the #ladytraps hashtag on Instagram. Video HERE

Pull Ups: Pull ups work traps, rhomboids, delts, lats, and more.  If you can’t complete a pull up unassisted, you can use bands or a pull up machine. This article from gives advice on pull ups for beginners. If you are a pull up pro, you can challenge yourself with a weighted belt to increase your load. Video HERE

Back Extension:
We’re saving the best for last! If you have big erectors, then there’s no doubt you have a big deadlift. Back extensions and weighted back extensions will do that for you. Erectors are used when your spine extends in the deadlift. They will keep your back upright through the lift. Video HERE

Do you have any of this accessory work programmed into your training already?  Is there anything you love that I didn’t mention?  Comment below, on Instagram, or on Facebook and let us know what works for you!

About The Author
Deanna Gerdesmeier is an elite 84KG+ USAPL powerlifter. With a 425kg total.
Follow her on Instagram at @Diesellifts


  • Amanda : September 20, 2016

    These are all great! One more fave for me: face pulls. These really helped me where my deadlift was weakest: upper back.

  • Giselle: June 17, 2016

    This is awesome…thanks!!

  • Kendra Joaquin: March 30, 2016

    I am new to lifting This helps me out immensely!!!
    THANK U!

  • Chandra : March 09, 2016

    Great & much needed tips!!! Thank you!

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

GWPL - Gift Card

Regular Price
from $ 25.00
Sale Price
from $ 25.00
Regular Price
Unit Price
Translation missing: en.general.accessibility.unit_price_separator 


Explain the benefits of subscribing

More posts

Quickly Breaking Down Training Volume

by Gage Reid of Nova Strength In the following article I'll be covering training volume, Minimum Effective Dose (MED), Max...