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2 Core Strength and Stability Movements for a Stronger Deadlift

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.


Hockey Deadlift

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.

  1. Stance my vary, but feet should be no more than hip-width apart. Some prefer feet together.
  2. Soften the knees and hinge the hips back toward the wall while keep the core braced at about 30%.
  3. Grab the kettlebell with both hands on the outside of the right leg.
  4. Stand up, bring the hips forward while straightening the knees.
  5. Lower the kettlebell to the same position on the left side. Repeat for reps. 

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

  1. Lie on your back holding the band in both hands.
  2. Move away from your apparatus enough to create good tension on the band.
  3. Pull the band toward your feet until your hands are aligned over the chest.
  4. Roll the pelvis upward so that it aligns with the ribs and you take the gap out from between your low back and the floor.
  5. Lift both feet from the floor to 90 degrees.
  6. On the exhale, lower the right leg down as far as you can without arching the low back. Take your time with this. Use a long exhale and time lowering with your breath. It’s not a race.
  7. Return to starting position on the inhale. Repeat on the other side.

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!


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