On a whim I decided to sign up for a deadlift only meet. I had eight weeks to train. It was summer, my schedule was busy, so I did the best I could to prepare though I wasn’t fully invested into a serious training cycle.
Some weeks I would lift 3 times, but most weeks I lifted twice—focusing strictly on my deadlift. I had some sessions that were deadlift only, but most weeks incorporated deadlifts, core work, and back work. Every now and then I threw in squats for good measure.
In the end, with a short training cycle and minimal training, I pulled a 330-pound deadlift without a belt.
Some argue that core strength doesn’t relate to deadlifts. However, after spending nearly a year working on improving my core strength and stability I can attest to being stronger, having greater movement, and lifting absolutely pain-free.
I left my meet with zero low back pain. I haven’t had any SI joint or hip flexor issues since last year.
I don’t go overboard with core training, but I do make it a habit to work in core strength and stability exercises to my training 3-4 times per week. Just 2-3 exercises, but this variation has made a huge difference in my lifts.
Below are two of the core strength exercises I used regularly during my eight-week training cycle (and still use regularly today). I like the hockey deadlift because it transfers well to barbell deadlifts in that it teaches you bracing and breathing in the hip hinge position. It’s also an effective rotational core movement that directly transfers to deadlift strength.
The dead bug is such a versatile exercise. You can do hundreds of variations and I perform different dead bug styles every week. But it’s a staple in my program regardless. The band-resisted dead bug is probably my favorite. Before you even begin moving your core is locked and loaded. Adding in the leg extension really challenges you to brace hard while maintaining breath control.
Note on weight: start light since this is a rotational movement. The more proficient you become at this lift the heavier you can go. However, it's not worth the risk to try to go all out the first few times you test the waters. Play smart.
I usually do about 3 sets of 8 and use this as one of the last two exercises in my training.
Band-Resisted Dead Bug
I perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps as the last movement in my workout.
Try these out and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!