If your goal is to increase your deadlift then don’t overlook the details specifically accessory lifts. In this video I’m going to show you the top three exercises for increasing your deadlift without focusing solely on the actual movement. Joining me, once again, in the X-Box for today’s video is accomplished powerlifter and overall strong dude KC “That 1 Legged Monster” Mitchell. KC shares some of his favorite accessory lifts that he’s been using to smash records and build a monster deadlift.
When it comes to deadlifting one of KC’s go to accessory lifts is the Pendlay row. The Pendlay row differs from other rows by starting from a dead stop on the floor. The goal here is to go heavy and be explosive. This not only builds back (and grip) strength but helps groove the pattern of being explosive at the start. If you can’t generate max force at the start of the movement you don’t have to worry about the rest of the lift because the weight isn’t going anywhere!
Another of KC’s favorite accessory lifts is the straight arm push down. We’ve talked at length about the importance of straight arm scapular strength on this channel and how it correlates to other movements and overall upper body health. Want a big deadlift? Well, all that scapular strength you’ve been building will come in handy here too! Having a strong scapular will allow you to keep your lats tight and keep the bar close to your body.
One of the biggest mistakes made by athletes new to the deadlift, and even some experienced lifters, is bar drift. A strong stable scapular will engage the lats and help provide a tight compact upper body that doesn’t leak energy.
KC’s final accessory lift for building a monster deadlift is the high pull. If you’ve been watching my channel for any length of time you know that I do not recommend doing upright rows. It’s not because they don’t work but because of the compromised position they put your shoulder in. All of that can be mitigated by simply switching to dumbbells and maintaining a ‘thumbs up’ grip.
Even though your traps are busy stabilizing the upper body in the deadlift they’re still playing an important role and you need them to be strong. This safe alternative to the upright row allows you to load up and hit them along with the rest of the upper back. The deadlift is all about using the power of your posterior chain and hips and transferring that into the bar.
There are people out there that will tell you to ignore the accessory lifts and focus on the main lift alone. These are usually the same people who have maxed out on their strength or have developed some interesting and unhealthy compensations for performing exercises.
There are some very important accessory lifts you need to do when you are trying to increase your deadlift. If you feel your lifts have been stuck in a rut, give these three lifts a try. If you want a program that focuses on your whole body, then head over to and start training like an athlete. Details matter when you train like an athlete, and when you pay attention to the details, all of your lifts will increase.
For more videos on how to get a better deadlift and the best workouts for building size and strength, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at