The dead lift is a compound exercise that utilizes a large number of lower and upper body muscles. In the sport of power lifting, the dead lift is one of the lifts that is contested in competition. The dead lift involves lifting a weight from the floor and standing up until your knees and hips are fully extended and is used by many athletes and sports people as a tool for increasing strength. There are a number of assistance exercises you can perform to improve your dead lift.
Stiff Legged Dead Lift
The stiff legged dead lift or SLDL is an exercise that will strengthen your hamstrings and lower back, both essential for successful dead lifting. To perform the SLDL, grasp a barbell in both hands and stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your knees slightly bent but rigid, push your hips back and bend forward as far as your flexibility will allow. Make sure you don’t round your lower back as this can lead to injury. Stand back upright in a single, smooth motion and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The rack pull will improve your ability to lock your hips out to perform a successful lift and is a dead lift with a reduced range of movement. Set the pins on a power rack so that the bar is just above your knee level. This reduced range of movement will increase the amount of weight you will be able to lift. Stand in front of the bar and bend forwards at the hips. Bend your knees slightly and grasp the barbell in both hands using either an overhand or a mixed grip. Using only your hips and back, lift the bar to waist height. Return the bar to the pins by bending forward at the hips and repeat. This exercise is best performed for low repetitions using a heavy weight.
Dead Lifts from a Deficit
This exercise will improve your ability to get the bar moving off of the floor. Place a 4 inch step next to a barbell and stand on it. You will now have to bend down further and deeper to be able to reach the barbell which will make initiating the pull from the floor more difficult. Perform your dead lifts as normal but be aware that your lower back is more prone to rounding using this technique. You should take extra care to avoid this. You can make this exercise even more demanding by using a wide snatch grip which will increase the range of movement further.
Using either a kettlebell or dumbbell, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the weight in both hands. Slightly bend your knees and push, hips back and lean forwards so that the weight is between your knees. Forcefully extend your hips and knees and simultaneously swing the weight up to eye level. Decelerate the weight as it falls back to the starting position and repeat. This is an explosive exercise which will improve your hip and hamstring power and should be performed at speed.