If there is one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that everyone wants a bigger deadlift. In fact, we would guess that’s the exact reason why you clicked on this article in the first place! One program that can sometimes come along with wanting a bigger deadlift — and ironically at that — is the act of actually building one.
At the end of the day, there are infinite ways to get stronger and improve your deadlift 1-rep max, and sometimes the best answers and tips are the simple ones staring right at you.
In this article, we’ll dive into Joey Szatmary’s favorite deadlift tips for building a stronger pull, and if it’s any consolation, Joey deadlifts 700+ lbs, so we think he knows a thing or two about lifting heavy weight.
5 Tips for Building a Bigger Deadlift
1. Deadlift MORE
This point is simple. To build a bigger deadlift, you need to prioritize the deadlift and practice the skill more often. Szatmary’s point highlights a trap that newer lifters sometimes fall victim to, which is trying to accomplish everything at once, a.k.a. still training how they normally would without extra attention on the deadlift — even though they want it to grow.
For this point, it’s simple. Start deadlifting more often and prioritize it in your training. Szatmary recommends upping your deadlift frequency to two times a week to start with a traditional deadlift and a variation, then progressing to three times a week as you acclimate to the increase in training frequency.
2. More Deadlift Variations As Accessories
To improve the deadlift, you need to be specific with your training. For example, the deadlift is a skill and practicing movement patterns and variations that mimic and strengthen the traditional deadlift will (often) pay more dividends on deadlift growth than doing isolation accessory work.
So instead of spending your time doing things like lat pulldowns to directly build a deadlift, program exercises like snatch grip deadlifts, pause deadlifts, rack pulls, or any other similar variation. This isn’t to say that lat pulldowns are useless, but for the purpose of progressing the deadlift explicitly, direct variations will have higher carryover.
3. Limit Touch and Go Deadlift Use
There is a time and place for touch and go deadlifts, but their use can actually slow progress Szatmary explains. By performing every set of deadlifts in a touch and go fashion, you’re losing a very valuable aspect of the deadlift, which is conquering a strong starting position and breaking the floor — arguably one of the toughest parts of the deadlift.
So what should you do instead? You guessed it. Reset every rep and focus on technical efficiency and limiting momentum between reps. Think about it, if you’re constantly using momentum to complete reps, then you’re leaving variable amounts of effort on the table.
4. Build Stronger Legs
Wait, what? Wasn’t point one deadlift more and prioritize the deadlift over other lifts? Yes, but hear Szatmary’s logic out. His point is that beginner and intermediate lifters often have a ton of potential for leg growth and haven’t capped their current training state. By improving the legs, a vital key to success in the deadlift, then 1-RMs will also improve.
The hamstrings, glutes, and quads all play crucial roles in both sumo and conventional deadlifts, so improving their strength will only help your potential to move big weight.
5. Target Weak Points
The final tip is to make a point on training weaknesses in the deadlift. We all have them and they’re individual to our pulls and bodies, so giving attention to lagging areas can be a fantastic tool for building a bigger deadlift. We’re not necessarily talking about deadlift plateaus either (even though those apply here), but just general areas where you find yourself struggling at times.
Szatmary recommends spending a training block solely focused on working within the weak areas of your deadlift. The deadlift is a skill that requires specificity, so when focusing on an exact area, take the level of specificity a step further and really hunker down on lagging areas. This could look like adding deficit pulls and tempo work to your program if you’re weak off the floor.
No matter who you are, if you barbell train, then you likely want to improve your deadlift. At times, improving deadlift strength can feel like daunting task, but with the right game plan it can be an achievable task for anyone.
If you’re struggling to progress, try some of these simple, no-frill deadlift tips. Sometimes the best tips are the ones sitting right in front of us.