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Article: The 5 Best Deadlift Exercises to Improve Your Body Strength

The 5 Best Deadlift Exercises to Improve Your Body Strength - Gunsmith Fitness

The 5 Best Deadlift Exercises to Improve Your Body Strength

One of the most frequent topics for questions we receive here at Gunsmith is regarding the deadlift workout. Most questions fall into one of two categories: 1. How do I increase my deadlift, or 2. How do I deadlift more safely?
Deadlift is a great exercise to gain core strength, build muscle, boost metabolism, reduce lower back pain, and more. Today, we’re going to go over some of the most effective exercises available for increasing the amount of weight you can deadlift. This also has the added benefit of improving your safety while deadlifting. After all, the more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it. And the more weight you can deadlift, the stronger your muscles are, meaning you’re less prone to injury. So it is essential to have a correct deadlift technique and training program.
Before we get too far into it, let’s quickly review the conventional deadlift, and some best practices used when performing this lift.

Why Deadlift Exercises Are Great for Your Body Strength

how to deadlift more weight

Often called The King of the Lifts, the deadlift is the most basic, simple, and foundational lifts across all forms of weightlifting. It essentially mimics one of the most common moves the human body is capable of: picking up something from the floor and then putting it back down. The deadlift is most often performed on a standard barbell but can also be done on a trap bar. A trap bar is similar to a barbell, except that it has a hexagonal-shaped hole in the center for you to stand in. This allows you to lift more weight by bringing the center of gravity closer to your body.

For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the standard barbell deadlift (similar to the Romanian deadlift).

While performing the deadlift, keep your feet about hip-width apart with the bar over your feet about halfway between your toes and heels. Grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and remember to keep a neutral spine. Don’t bend at the lower back to pick up the weight; instead, focus on lowering your hips to meet the bar. This way, when you lean forward to grip the bar, your shins are just about touching the bar.

Many people will exaggerate the extension phase, even going so far as to lean back when locking out. This isn’t recommended, and can actually lead to injuring your lower back.

A lot of heavy lifters prefer to use a weightlifting belt to ensure their back is protected while deadlifting.  We have a number of belts to choose from, including Olympic belts, Powerlifting belts, and Custom Designed Belts. If you think you might want a weight belt while lifting (which we highly recommend), consider picking up a belt from Gunsmith Fitness.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to some of the best exercises for improving your conventional deadlifts and lifting heavier weights. From the starting position to the range of motion, it is important to take care of every detail.

The Farmer’s Walk

farmers walk to improve deadlift
The Farmer’s Walk or Farmer’s Carry is another one of those foundational movements that people have probably been doing since time immemorial. You can easily imagine someone from ten thousand years ago carrying two buckets of water from the river to their village, and that’s precisely what you’re going to be doing here, except you’re going to be carrying dumbbells back and forth across the gym floor.
The farmer’s carry is simple: pick up a couple of heavy dumbbells and walk, keeping a spine neutral. Each step while carrying the dumbbells close to your body will work your legs, hip flexors, erector spinae, and core stabilizing muscles, which all work together during the deadlift. This is an excellent exercise to improve grip strength, but it also gets your entire body used to hold heavy weights. You can start with a lighter weight and increase it as you build strength.

Glute Ham Developers (GHD) Raises

GHD raises target the entire posterior chain muscles, from the hamstrings and glutes to the lower, mid, and upper back. GHD raises can help strengthen the muscles in your lower back and help prevent injury when deadlifting. Try switching up the weight and reps and see what works best. Some people prefer using only their body weight on the GHD machine, which means they tend to work with higher reps. If you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands during the exercise, you can cut the reps down and still get the same amount of volume.
With the boom in the popularity of Crossfit, most gyms will have a couple of GHD machines among their arsenal. If your gym doesn’t have one, you can substitute for Supermans. Either way, you will improve your lower, mid, and upper back strength and glute strength.

Superman Lifts 

A Superman lift isn’t technically a lift, as you’re not moving any weight. Instead, it’s done entirely with your own body weight. Supermans have been a staple of many athletics training programs for decades, including wrestling and boxing, since they help to develop strong core, back, and neck muscles.
To perform the Superman, lay flat on your stomach in a neutral position with your arms straight over your head. Keep your neck neutral. With your arms and legs still straight, lift your feet and shoulders off the ground. You want your entire body weight supported by your lower abdomen and hips while your body looks like an elongated “U” from the side.
Hold the concentric phase of the lift for 2-5 seconds, and then relax. Do three sets of 10-15 reps to really work the muscles in your posterior chain. If you want, you can start with eight reps and increase when your core muscles and back muscles are stronger.


The shrug is another basic move that can help improve your deadlift, primarily by increasing the strength of your traps. The traps, or trapezius muscle, is a large muscle in your mid back to upper back and neck to move the neck and arms and stabilize the upper body.
A good form helps to increase strength without having a hard time or injuring yourself. When performing shrugs, usually, the heavier the weight, the better. Just make sure you’re not rocking too much, which can happen if the weight is too heavy for you. Some say you should look at the ground while doing this exercise because you work your neck through a full range o motion. But we recommend keeping your neck in a neutral position.
*Pro-Tip: superset your Farmer’s Walk with Shrugs to increase effectiveness and save time.

Hamstring Curls

Hamstring Curls for heavier deadlifts
Hamstrings get a lot of neglect from many lifters because the hamstring is one of the hardest muscles to see, even in a mirror. As a result, there’s a good chance your hamstrings are underdeveloped, which could be limiting your progress in your deadlift. This exercise also works your gluteus maximus when you return to the start position. So you are not working just one muscle.
Get on the hamstring curl machine, seated or lying down, and blast out some heavy curls. This isolation exercise is a great way to finish off leg day and will be guaranteed to boost your leg strength and up your heavy deadlift exercises.


While this list is by no means absolute, it includes some of the best exercises around for improving your deadlift. You can also try exercises like hip thrusts, Romanian deadlifts, bench press, and deficit deadlifts and combine them with other accessory exercises. The most important thing is always maintaining a proper form to avoid getting stuck at the same weight you can lift and prevent injuries. Everything is valid to gain core, arm, back, and lat strength as long as you care while you hinge forward, do a hip extension, move your shoulder blades, etc. Work harder but also smarter.

Take your strength training to the next level! This is an advanced variation of the standard deadlift done from an elevated surface to have a wider range of motion. All these exercises will give you better performance if you want to do deficit deadlift exercises.

Give these a shot the next time you’re in the gym, and consider adding a few to your weekly routine. Mixing up the variety in your lifts will stimulate your muscles and challenge your body, leading to better performance.

Staying safe is also a big part of training, so check out our line of weight lifting belts here to help keep a tight core and protect your lower back.

using a belt for deadlifts

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