Written by Sarah Strong
“There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift” – Jón Páll Sigmarsson.
Numerous deadlift variations and deadlift accessories exist to strengthen any weakness in pulling. The following are my top three recommended deadlift accessories to build a bigger lift:
Rack pulls/ block pulls. If you struggle with the lockout, rack pulls or block pulls can be the perfect accessory for you. Both rack pulls and block pulls elevate the starting position of the bar. Deciding between using a rack or blocks mostly comes down to preference and availability in your gym. Some wide stance sumo pullers may need to use blocks if the rack does not allow them to set up properly. If blocks are not available, you can make your own set up by stacking plates.
To set up, place the bar height at your sticking point, usually just below or just above the knees. These pulls are best done at heavy percentages of your max or even overloading. Rack and block pulls emphasize the lockout, strengthen the low back, and strengthen the grip.
Deficit Deadlifts. If you have ever deadlifted from a deficit, you understand how grueling this work is. A one-inch deficit can make a huge difference. To set up for these pulls, stand on a plate, board, or another surface that would elevate you, but have the bar on the floor as normal. Pulling from a deficit increases your leg strength. The increased joint flexion caused by the deficit forces the quads to work more, which can result in greater loads moving from off the floor when you take the deficit away. The deficit also creates greater time under tension, which increases strength and muscle mass.
Isometric holds. This deadlift variation is excellent for gaining strength and working through any sticking points. To set up, place the bar on the floor in a rack. Set the pins on the safeties at the desired sticking point you are working on. Load the bar at about 60% and pull, putting as much force as you can into the safeties. You want to hold each pull for only five to ten seconds. Smaller rep ranges, such as 4-6 reps, are ideal for these strenuous holds. You can move the pins up and down and work on various sticking points for your lift.
Incorporating these deadlift variations should yield results. As always, make sure your form is on point. If you are unsure, hire a coach who will give you constructive criticism and make sure you are performing your exercises correctly and safely.
Get to know Sarah on Instagram!