How To Increase The Deadlift: (8 Proven Ways To Maximise Your Lift)

Do you want to know how to increase the deadlift?  Is your progression coming to a halt?  Are you struggling to hit those numbers?  Do you want to get the most out of every single rep?  Then keep reading to discover 8 proven methods that will take your deadlift to the next level.

Unfortunately, with any exercise, let alone a big technical one like the deadlift, your progress is going to come to a slow and steady halt and plateau at some point through your program.  Gaining muscle and building strength start to become an uphill struggle.

The more advanced you are, than the more so this will apply to you.  Why?  Because you are so much closer to your genetic potential than a beginner would be.

Trying to prevent stagnation and climbing out of those horrible ruts is all part of the training journey.

The strategies listed below will help you to consistently progress in the deadlift by pulling you through those ruts.  However, if you implement them properly they will also help you avoid those ruts in the first place.

Derek Pomana deadlifting with an overhand underhand grip.


1.  Proper Form Is Key (Learn It Then Learn It Some More)

If your form sucks, then your deadlift will suck.  You may be able to get away with some crappy form in the beginning and still see those weights go up, but very quickly those improvements will stop and/or you will get injured.

Learning to deadlift properly should be your utmost priority before anything else.  You are creating the foundation for everything else to work from.

Even when you are at an advanced stage, don’t think the learning process should stop.  It can become very easy for the brain to get lazy during the lift and it’s vitally important you constantly remind yourself of proper technique.  Many of the best deadlifters around will go over cues in their head before a heavy lift to ensure everything is in place and done correctly.

I really can’t stress enough how important proper technique is when it comes to such a complex movement as the deadlift.

Quick Tip – Write down some cues on a cheat sheet to constantly remind yourself of the little parts that are easy to forget.  Below is an example of what a cheat sheet may look like.

  1. Grip the bar with your fingers, not your palms
  2. Squeeze and crush the bar as hard as you can
  3. Squeeze your arms in tight to your side.
  4. Drive the bar up with force
  5. Push the world away with your feet

As you can see I have not listed a guide here on every aspect of the technique.  The last thing you will want to do is read a full guide before attempting every set.  But these are little points that can often be forgotten yet make a huge difference to the lift.

Another Quick Tip – Don’t be afraid to video yourself doing the deadlift.  Yes, I know it can be annoying constantly seeing people taking mirror selfies and updating their Instagram profiles mid-workout, but you won’t be doing this for vanity.

Video both your warm-up sets and your working sets.  Do this from all different angles.  Look to see if there are any differences and at what stage of the deadlift your form changes from your easier lighter warm-up sets to your heavy working sets.  You can then really focus your mind on correcting any parts that are not quite right during your next session.

Also, use a video like the one below, of an expert doing deadlifts in perfect form and again compare each segment of yours to the person in the video.  This will again show you which parts need adjusting, and you can quickly get to work in correcting them.


2.  Add-In Accessory Work To Strengthen Your Back And Grip

The most common places to fail on the deadlift (reach sticking points), or where form changes from perfect to questionable are a few inches above the ground or a few inches shy of fully locking out and standing up with the bar.

There will, of course, be many strategies and tips on this list to help but one of the main causes of this is usually a lack of strength through your back and grip.  Work on both of these and you will see a huge difference.

On your deadlift or pull days, depending on what program format you are following, add-in some accessory work to help strengthen these weaker areas.  Below are some brilliant exercises you can include.

Back Accessory Work

Romanian Deadlift

Glute-Ham Raise

Lower Back Hyperextensions

Good Mornings

Grip Strength Accessory Work

Double Overhand Grip Barbell Hold

Here’s how to incorporate this into your program:

  • Aim to grip onto the bar for around 30 seconds.
  • By the end of the 30 seconds, you should be failing or very close to it.  If you clearly had a good few seconds left in the tank, then add more weight.
  • Do this at the end of a deadlifting/pulling session.
  • If 30 seconds is reached when doing the first set, that’s your cue to increase the weight.
  • Don’t worry if you manage to reach 30 seconds on your first set, but once increasing the weight on the next 2 you fail.  This is meant to happen.  When you come to do these again in your next deadlift/pull session, you will start with the increased weight.
  • Aim for 2 to 3 sessions a week.

3.  Create A Strong And Focus Mindset Before Each Set

You see it all the time these days in the gym.  Someone has been sat down on their phone for 6 or 7 minutes and when they finally decide to put it down and do their next set, they just casually walk up to the weights and have zero intensity in their lift.

If you are attempting to do a heavy set of deadlifts then this isn’t going to cut it.  I’m sure whoever you were talking to on WhatsApp can wait until after your training session so leave the phone in your bag and use the time before your next set to get 100% mentally prepared, excited and pumped up ready to lift those dam weights.

It’s proven by research that there is a significant improvement in force production when verbal feedback is received before the set.  Pumping out some of your favourite training music is a great way to achieve this.

And guess what.  The total opposite is true as well.  If you are distracted or have your mind elsewhere then there is a significant reduction in force production.

In any walk of life, successful people already visualise themselves reaching their goals before they even have.  Take this idea into the weight room and see the improvement.  Imagine yourself lifting the weight and how it makes you feel when you complete the set, smashing your PB.  Don’t just take my word for it there are studies backing it up.


4.  Increase How Often You Deadlift

There are many opinions floating around at how often you should train a particular movement or muscle group in order to build mass.

However, if you have followed any powerlifting or Olympic lifting program written by someone with good credentials in the industry, you will notice a common theme.  They all have you doing the main lifts multiple times during the week.

It’s simple really, and this doesn’t just go for weightlifting but everything in life.  If you want to get better and improve at something then do whatever it is with more frequency.

I suppose it’s not rocket science really.  When first starting out with the deadlift, you may spend 20 minutes on it.  Your form, at this stage, sucks, so why on earth would you want to wait a full week before trying to learn it again.

By deadlifting more frequently, the quicker you will learn perfect technique, therefore, leading to faster muscle and strength gains.

The key to increasing the frequency of such a complex movement like the deadlift is proper planning and programming.  This will ensure you stay on track and avoid any issues with smashing your central nervous system into the ground.


5.  Improve Hamstring Flexibility And Strength

Ill Keep this one short and sweet.  Tight and weak hamstrings can be a major stumbling block to being able to deadlift in proper form.

If you have tight hamstrings it’s going to be very hard to maintain a neutral spine during the preparation (set up) phase of the deadlift.  Tight hamstrings will force your hips into a posterior tilt, meaning your butt will tuck under you and your lower back will round.

If you have weak hamstrings then the chances are they will not be strong enough to support the load on the bar.  As soon as you lift the bar from the ground, your hamstrings hide in fear and your lower back will round.

Now how can you fix tight of weak hamstrings?  Obviously, for tight hamstrings, you can incorporate some form of static stretching, and it’s definitely something I would advise.  However, a great way to both stretch and strengthen the hamstrings is doing Romanian deadlifts.  Not only will this movent benefit your hamstrings it will also help teach you to deadlift properly.  Check out this video below.


6.  Learn Different Grip Techniques To Maximise Your Lift

I have written a whole article on this, so I am not going to go into much detail here.

One point I would like to make is, don’t even worry yourself with different grip styles until you have built a considerable amount of strength through your hands, wrists and forearms.

Once you can lift at least 1.5 times your body weight for 1 rep using the Double Overhand Grip, then you can start looking at grip variations for improved performance.

Just to give you an example of one though, below is an athlete using the overhand underhand grip variation.  A very powerful grip, but it does have some downsides for you to consider also.

Female powerlifter using the overhand underhand grip when deadlifting


7.  Wear A WeightLifting Belt During Your Working Sets

Many people will wear a weightlifting belt to help reduce the risk of injury.  However, studies have shown that wearing a belt doesn’t actually help with this side of things.  What they have proven through research though, is wearing a belt will hugely increase your performance when deadlifting.  You will be able to complete more reps per set, have increased force production and be able to lift more weight.

Being strong has very close links to muscle mass.  So basically, the stronger you get the more muscle mass you will have.

What does this mean for wearing a belt?  Wearing a belt will help you get stronger much more quickly, which, in turn, means you will also gain muscle at a much faster rate.

Lastly, let’s look at the effect wearing a belt has on your core.  There are many opinions flying around still that you will have a decrease in activity throughout your core.  However, studies have shown this to now but untrue.  You will either get increased activation throughout your core, or it will be the same as when deadlifting without a belt.  However, it is never less.

Male power lifting wearing a red t-shirt and grey shorts, deadlifting with a belt and lifting straps.


8.  Lift Every Rep With Explosive Power

There has been study after study proving that lifting with explosive power will enable you to gain more strength and muscle at a much faster rate.  It becomes very frustrating when you see trainers out there still promoting slow steady reps.  I understand for an absolute beginner lifting weights at a slow and steady pace can be helpful in learning the movement patterns, but for anyone trying to increase in strength and muscle, it’s extremely counterproductive.

Below are a few studies showing how lifting explosively helped athletes gain strength quicker than lifting with a slow tempo.


Key Points To Take Away From This Article

  1. Proper form is key.  Never stop learning and trying to improve your deadlift technique.
  2. Make sure you work on strengthening your grip.  This is vital to long term success with the deadlift.
  3. Do some accessory work to help strengthen your back further.  Trying including Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, lower back hyperextensions and hamstring glute raises.
  4. Mentally prepare yourself properly for each set of deadlifts.  A strong mindset will help you lift more.
  5. Once you hit a plateau, try increasing your frequency.  All major powerlifting and Olympic lifting programs worth their salt will have you doing the main lifts more than once a week.
  6.  Weak or tight hamstrings can play a major part in halting your progress.  Romanian deadlifts will both strengthen and stretch your hamstrings.
  7. Once you hit at least 1.5 times your body weight with the double overhand grip.  Try using stronger grip variations to help you lift more weight.
  8. Wearing a belt will instantly help you lift more weight.  The benefits of wearing a belt for your working sets are huge.
  9. Don’t try and control the bar up and down with a slow tempo.  Lift explosively only.  It’s been scientifically proven to increase both strength and peak power.

Thanks for reading my article.  If you found it helpful or know someone else who would, please click one of the share buttons.  Any questions or comments you may have then don’t hesitate to leave them below.

how to increase the deadlift


14 thoughts on “How To Increase The Deadlift: (8 Proven Ways To Maximise Your Lift)”

  1. This is one area where I have struggled in the past year or so – my buddies in the gym always get a better lift than me which makes me very jealous and annoyed. These tips and videos are really helpful especially the add-In accessory work to help strengthen the back and grip – hopefully next year I can match the guys I know who have always been better than me in the past.  Is there any secret tips to improve Hamstring flexibility and I am seriously weak in this area?

    Reply
    • Hi David

      A great way to increase the flexibility of your hamstrings is by doing Romanian Deadlifts.  These will give your hamstrings a serious stretch in the correct movement pattern of a deadlift.  Use the video in the article and keep practicing them.  It won’t take long for your flexibility to improve.

      Reply
  2. Beautiful site! I like the choice of font, and the choice of colors are perfect and make it easy to read.

    I hope this comment makes it to the top. I enjoy going to the gym four days per week. I know amateur bodybuilder and power lifting pros. This is a beautifully constructed site and the world of athletics has been improved by its addition to the knowledge base. I particularly like the way you mentally prepare before competition through the White noise, and I will use this information before the gym today. Improving Hamstring Flexibility and Strength is one of the key facts that I will incorporate into my workout. Thank you for an opportunity to learn from such a knowledgeable professional.

    Reply
    • Hi Rick

      I’m really happy you found this article helpful.  Yes tight or weak hamstrings are a major problem for many when deadlifting, so working on this side of things will have a massively positive effect on your deadlift.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing with us this great post on how to increase Deadlift.Many people go to gym and try to deadlift without guidance of the coach and this has negative effect on their body. weightlifting is common to men and women but it must be done in good way to avoid injury in the room.

    Imagine a woman of 60 kg deadlifts 150kg!!! There might be guidance of the coach and everything will result in a positive way.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment.

      Yes having a professional coach can be a huge advantage as long as they are knowledgeable.  Also a 60kg woman deadlifting 150k is very impressive.

      Reply
  4. This is truly an amazing Web site – the entire site.  I actually got off this page and looked around at some of the other pages on this site as well.

    I used to do research as an exercise physiologist and so enjoyed your site immensely.  I would absolutely agree that high interval exercise (what we called interval exercise training”) is the best mode for cardiovascular training.  We used a rat model for exercising them in various modes such as straight out running, interval running, and no running and then looked at their muscle to determine the effect of exercise.  IET was the best for building stamina over time.  (We used little rat treadmills!).

    But I also enjoyed this page on weight lifting – something I do not know as much about.  I enjoyed the many videos you have on your site – something that is not seen on many training sites.  They really help to illustrate your points.

    I am wondering what advice you would give to somebody wanting to get healthier with exercise – not somebody who wanted to be in any form of competition, just get healthier.  As you note in your site, training in one direction (such as a long distance runner) means you likely will ont have great muscle mass and visa versa.  So what form of exercise for general, overall health?

    Thanks for your site once again!

    Reply
    • Hi Dave

      I’m really glad you enjoyed looking round my site.  I love talking about the scientific side of things.

      In terms of what I recommend.  If you are brand new or haven’t exercised in a long while, than the first thing you need to do is just get moving more.  It sounds silly but this will have a good affect at the beginning fitness bands are a great fun tool to have as they allow you to count your steps and set goals to help keep you focused.  

      I would always start a basic weight training program.  Go for an all over body approach and start with this 3 times a week.  As you progress you can start training with more intensity and advanced techniques,  Also you could start with a basic cardio program.  Aim for 20 minutes a session and start with some basic intervals.  1 minute hard, followed by 2 to 3 minutes easy (recovery)  Obviously the intensity you can go at will depend on your overall levels of fitness when you start.  

      Just remember there is no need to spend hours doing cardio each day, especially if you are not aiming to do any long distance events.

      I hope this helps

      Reply
  5. I have not focused on power lifting before now and wanted to learn the right way to do this beforehand.  I found your article to be very helpful.  You broke power lifting down to the basics in your guide to deadlift properly; thar was so helpful, especially for me, since i am just learning.

    to be honest I would have thought that to improve deadlifts focus on the deadlifts.  i had not thought about other exercises to improve my lifting results.  The videos really helped me visualize each part.

    Just wanted to say thanks for your whole site there is so much to learn and you cover it so well.  Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Hi Raymond

      You are absolutely correct.  In order to get better at deadlifts, then you need to deadlift.  Many of these strategies listed are for when you are much further on in your deadlift journey.  However, some you can still use from the off.  Like learning proper form, working on your hamstring flexibility, working on grip strength etc.

      Let me know if you need any help with anything.

      Reply
  6. I’m glad that I came across this article. You are right. 

    One of the areas that I struggle in while doing a deadlift is with my back. I am so glad that you added some exercises that I can do in addition to strengthen my back muscles.

    Being a tall woman I know that strengthening my back is important as I’m predisposed to back pain/problems anyway. So now my question is Lower Back Hyperextensions without the bench? 

    If not, where can I get one? Hopefully, we will have an extra room in our house that we plan to turn into an exercise room. 

    Might be able to do some there. For now, we have a YMCA membership but I don’t think they have one of these there either.

    Reply
    • Hyperextension benches, although a simple bit of kit is not the cheapest.  You will be looking at around $100 for a decent one.  Here is one I would recommend

      https://amzn.to/2VtRCO8

      Alternatively,  You can do this movement lying on the floor on your stomach.  Although the range of motion will be reduced, if you are new to the movement these will still be challenging.  

      Reply
  7. I think that this article is very helpful and informative as this is something like written for me. I enjoy in deadlift but I think that I lack in doing proper form. I have a gym in the house so I don’t have a trainer to ask but this definitely takes time. I will try to follow other tips you mentioned but do you think I should go with a personal trainer?

    Reply
    • Hi Daniel

      It definitely may be worth investing in a one-time session with a trainer to run through the deadlift with you properly.  This way they can correct any part of the form that needs working on.  Just do your research and make sure you go with one who knows what they are talking about and experienced

      Reply

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