The deadlift is a movement that I absolutely love because it the ultimate test of strength. You can’t make excuses with this lift; you can either pick up the weight or you can’t. No question about it. In my first powerlifting competition a little over a year ago, I achieved a 275lbs deadlift at 123lbs bodyweight. That wasn’t shameful by any means, but I had a lot of work to do before I would consider myself a deadlifting machine. I started to really focus on my flaws and was able to pick out movements and assistance work to fix those and help build my very best deadlift. In a year’s time I was able to add 90lbs + onto my deadlift and I am still currently hitting PR’s in the gym with the training my coach/boyfriend Corey Hayes and I put together after my first meet.
So what did I do? I now train with a large amount of volume with weight that increases week to week. I eventually taper into about 4 sets of 1 rep right before a meet in a peaking phase but the majority of my deadlift training utilizes multiple sets with 3-5 reps in each of them. In addition to training with higher volume, I have several assistance exercises that I use in each deadlift session to work on my weak points. In this article I will share a few of my favorites that I feel are most responsible for the continuous increase in my progress.
Opposite stance 3in. deficits – My competition stance is sumo so I incorporate conventional deadlifts into training to work the muscles that I don’t focus on when I train my competition stance. By adding a 3in. deficit, it makes the movement not only more difficult because you have a farther distance to pull, but its main purpose is to help develop strength from the floor.
Glute-Ham Raises – I use glute-ham raises as an assistance exercise after my deadlifts to help strengthen my deadlift lock-out. I’ll usually do around 50 reps total. To make the exercise even more challenging, I add one end of a micro-mini band around the bottom of the machine and the other end around my neck to create more resistance as I raise up during each rep, really squeezing my glutes and hamstrings at the top.
Rows or Lat pull downs- In every single training session during the week I add an upper body exercise to build a stronger upper back. I do a different variation of row for each training session: Monday – Dumbbell rows, Wednesday – Chest supported rows, Friday – Barbell rows, and Sunday – I will either use the row machine or lat pull-downs. The increase in upper body strength has allowed me to keep my back straight instead of rounding over during heavier deadlifts and has helped my lock-out strength tremendous.
Core- I always add some type of weighted core exercise in every training session. I feel that it has helped me stay tight during the lift as well as increase my speed off of the floor. Some exercises that I use are weighted planks and side planks, band resisted sit-ups, and using an ab roller with a plate on my back.
Other than the exercises mentioned above, the best things I’ve found to help keep progressing my deadlift are: staying consistent with my workouts and diet each week, choosing secondary movements and assistance work that focus on my flaws during the lift, and making sure that I get enough recovery time between workouts. That is how I built my best deadlift.Caitlyn Trout is fierce competitor in the raw powerlifting world. She is a graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University and is home based at Berea Barbell where she achieved Elite status in less than year of competing. Her best competition lifts are 352/165/365 at 122 body weight. Caitlyn’s already become the World Record holder in the squat in her short powerlifting career.