5 Ways To Build The Deadlift – Jeromy Bryk

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Jeromy Bryk – @Bryk_Squuaadd

Of the 3 competition lifts, the deadlift has the reputation of being the most physically and emotionally taxing for many lifters. For me, I have found it incredibly stubborn to improve upon at times over the past couple years, despite having what many would consider excellent leverages for the movement.  Luckily enough I have found some ways that have helped me get over my deadlift plateau and get it moving well enough to build a decent total around it. Here are my top 5 favorite ways to build the deadlift! 

Deadlift with the Opposite Stance:

  • I get it, it’s easy to fall in love with one variation of the deadlift and run with it. But one thing I know to be true is that deadlifting with the opposite stance does great things for your numbers, especially if you are a sumo deadlifter like me. My sumo deadlift didn’t really start improving until I started focusing more on my conventional deadlift. Nowadays, I pull conventional 3 out of the 4 weeks in my training block, or 4 out of every 6 weeks and only pull sumo once a month at the most. Deadlifting with the opposite stance could be the plateau buster that you need, as you recruit different muscles than you normally would by focusing on one style of deadlift only. 

Deadlift Heavy Less Often

  • This one was really hard for me to understand at first and, at times, it still is because after all if you want to get great at deadlifting heavy don’t you have to deadlift heavy? My answer is a resounding no. So long as you have your bases covered in terms of building the muscles that build the deadlift, you can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to pull heavy every week. Heavy deadlifts are very taxing on the central nervous system and training them too often certainly can lead to plateaus or even worse, injury. Taking time away from heavy deadlifts and instead focusing on speed deadlifts to hone in on form and allowing other exercises build up strength in your deadlift muscles can have very positive effects when its time to go heavy again. 

Focus on Posterior Chain Overload

  • Posterior chain overload has made the biggest difference for me in improving my deadlift and it has worked for many others too. By focusing heavily on building up the muscles in the lower back, upper back, hamstrings and glutes you will develop the strength and confidence to sit back and wedge a heavy weight off the floor, taking advantage of your leverages and losing the fear of injury which plagues so many of us powerlifters. I personally have found that good mornings, belt marches, lower back extensions, sled drags, GHDs and dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts work well for this purpose just to name a few! 

Box Squatting 

  • I’ve written about box squats before and I am very confident that just about everyone can benefit from them when performed correctly. Not only do box squats build a great squat, but I have found they work well for improving upon the deadlift. One of my favorite ways of improving the deadlift via the box squat is to set up the box at the height that your hips would be at when you start the movement and take your competition deadlift stance, sumo or conventional. I have found this works very well with teaching me to “shoot the hips” from a dead stop, which is essentially what we are doing with a deadlift! 

Deadlift from Different Starting Positions

  • Deadlifting from different starting positions is a fantastic way to not only improve on weaknesses in the movement, but can also be an effective way of finding out where the weaknesses are at in the first place. This means trying out block pulls at different block heights, deficit deadlifts at different heights and stiff leg deadlifts as just a couple of examples. For me, conventional deadlifts off blocks with the bar just below my knees is my weakest position to pull from. Instead of avoiding this movement I hit it even harder going into my most recent meet, making it a main focus on my deadlift day and in combination with heavy box squats ended up improving my sumo deadlift by 10 lbs on meet day. Experiment a little bit, find out what positions you are weak from and from there you can determine which areas you should be focusing on! 

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