Deadlift Assistance Exercises – Introduction
What are the best deadlift assistance exercises to fix the most common deadlift problems?
Conventional deadlifting is one of the best exercises to train your posterior chain, if not your entire body.
It builds strength and muscle mass and can also boost athletic performance.
Most athletes do deadlifts as part of their general strength and conditioning workouts.
The deadlift is also one of the three big lifts contested in the sport of powerlifting, the other two being the squat and bench press.
And there is no greater exercise than the deadlift for fat loss and to dramatically change your body – fast.
As popular as regular deadlifts are, it’s widespread to see them poorly performed.
Some lifters, and especially beginners, are frustrated by their inability to lift heavier weights.
What’s Your Weak Point
Common deadlift faults and problems include:
- Rounding your lower back
- Allowing your hips to rise faster than your shoulders
- Hitting a sticking point at around knee-height
- Losing grip of the bar
- Letting the bar move away from your legs
- Difficulty breaking the bar away from the floor
- Trouble locking out at the top
- Not having enough full-body tension at the start of the lift
The good news is that, with the right deadlift assistance exercises, you will soon start to see your deadlift technique and performance improve.
Deadlift form improvement won’t happen overnight, but with persistence and effort, you can fix your deadlift problems and master this excellent exercise.
Here are the top 10 deadlift assistance exercises to fix the most common deadlift faults.
The Best Deadlift Assistance Exercises
#1. Paused deadlifts
The paused deadlift involves lifting the bar off the floor and then stopping for a couple of seconds at knee height.
You then complete the lift as usual.
This pause increases your strength off the floor, helps eliminate sticking points, and teaches you to stay tight throughout the whole lift.
If you are serious about becoming better at deadlifting, this exercise will undoubtedly help.
#2. Deficit deadlifts
With deficit deadlifts, you stand on a 2 to a 4-inch high platform when performing conventional or sumo (wide stance) deadlifts.
This slight elevation puts you in a lower bottom position than usual, which increases the distance the weight has to travel and makes this exercise harder than standard deadlifts.
After a few training cycles of deficit deadlifts, regular deadlifts off the floor will feel a whole lot easier.
Your hips and lower back will be stronger, and you’ll be able to lift more weight.
#3. Farmer’s walk
It doesn’t matter how strong your legs and back are; if you have weak grip strength, your deadlift performance is going to suffer.
After all, you need to keep hold of the bar, and a feeble grip could mean failed reps.
Farmer’s walks involve lifting a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells and then walking as far as you can.
This simple exercise is one of the best assistance exercises to develop your grip strength.
#4. Rack Pulls
The rack pull emphasizes the top part of the lift.
With this deadlift accessory exercise, you start your deadlift with the bar at just below, at, or slightly above knee height.
Focusing on the top part of a deadlift allows you to lift more weight, which will increase strength and muscle mass.
In time, that will improve your regular deadlift performance.
For safety, it is best to use a power rack for this assistance work.
#5. Leg Curls
Leg curls might seem like one of the least practical deadlift assistance exercises, but it is very beneficial.
The reason is that leg curls isolate and strengthen your hamstrings, and the hamstrings play a crucial role in deadlifting.
Responsible for hip extension, weak hamstrings mean your lower back has to do more work than it should, and that could limit your performance.
Leg curls will help eliminate this problem.
#6. Snatch Grip Deadlifts
The snatch grip deadlift, like deficit deadlifts, increases your range of motion and forces you to start each rep from a much lower position.
To do this exercise, simply grip the bar with your hands roughly 1 ½ shoulder-widths apart.
Warning – take care not to round your back during this exercise, as doing so could lead to serious injury.
#7. Romanian deadlifts
This deadlift assistance exercise is a great way to strengthen the top end of your range of motion.
With Romanian deadlifts, you start with the bar off the floor and, with minimal knee bend, hinge forward from your hips to work your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
To many, it is unclear why this exercise is called the Romanian deadlift.
Most are sure that it doesn’t come from Romania and is not especially popular amongst Romanian weightlifters.
However, there is a story to the name, and you will find it in this post on the 7 Greatest Benefits of Romanian Deadlifts.
The bottom line is, as far as posterior chain exercises go, it’s incredibly beneficial and useful.
#8. Front squats
A lot of people think that deadlifts only involve the posterior chain.
That isn’t true.
Your quadriceps also play an essential role, especially in breaking the bar away from the floor.
It’s no coincidence that most elite deadlift athletes are also excellent squatters.
Front squats are one of the best quadriceps exercises around.
With a front squat, you keep your torso very uptight, which emphasizes the quadriceps and reduces hamstring and glute activation.
Use a close grip to keep your chest up and make pushing your elbows forward much more comfortable.
#9. Kettlebell Swings
Most deadlift assistance exercises feature a slow, controlled tempo.
While that’s an excellent way to build strength, it won’t do much for muscle power.
Muscle power is your ability to generate a lot of force very quickly.
Deadlifting heavier weights is more manageable if you lift explosively.
Any momentum generated will help you power through your sticking points.
Kettlebell swings are an easy-to-learn posterior chain power exercise that will have a noticeable effect on your speed off the floor.
To do kettlebell swings, stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
Hold your kettlebell (or a single dumbbell) with both hands.
Lean forward from your hips and lower the weight between your knees.
Drive your hips forward and use this momentum to swing the weight up to shoulder height.
Swing the weight back down and repeat. Do not allow your lower back to round.
#10. Hip thrust
This glute and hamstring-centric move is a beneficial deadlift assistance exercise.
Its main advantage is that, unlike Romanian deadlifts, snatch grip deadlifts, deficit deadlifts, and paused deadlifts, it’s easy on your lower back.
Because of this, you should include the hip thrust into your workouts, even on days when you do regular deadlifts.
To get the most from this exercise, make sure you use heavy weights and also fully extend your hips between reps. Half-reps and light weights won’t do much for your deadlift performance.
Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Rest a barbell across your hips.
Drive your feet into the floor and push your hips up to the ceiling, so your weight ends up supported on your shoulders and feet only.
Lower your butt back down to the floor and repeat.
#11. Standing broad jumps
This less-common deadlift accessory exercise increases hip drive and power.
It will make you more explosive off the floor, helping you lift heavy weights more quickly.
Its main advantage is that, unlike kettlebell swings, you don’t need any exercise equipment to do it.
Simply bend your knees, swing your arms behind you, and then jump as far as you can.
Land on bent slightly knees, reset your feet and repeat.
#12. Superman holds
This bodyweight-only deadlift accessory exercise will strengthen your lower back and also teach you to identify the sensation of a slightly arched lower back form in the deadlift.
Rounding your lower back during deadlifts is a cardinal sin.
Not only could it lead to injury, but it also means you’ve got to lift the weight further than necessary.
While this second problem is only measurable in inches, it could be enough to reduce the amount of maximal weight you can deadlift.
To do this simple exercise, lie on your front with your legs straight and your arms extended out in front of you.
Using your upper back, lower back, and glutes, lift your arms, chest, head, and legs a few inches off the floor.
Note the tension in your lower back.
That’s how your spine should feel during deadlifts.
This great exercise will help you develop a strong core and a much stronger deadlift.
The Best Deadlift Assistance Exercises – Final Thoughts
The deadlift is such a useful, productive exercise that it’s worth making sure you perform it as well as possible.
While deadlifting regularly will help you with this, using accessory exercises to shore up any weaknesses or technique problems will also help.
Analyze your deadlift to identify your faults, and then use the appropriate assistance exercises to fix them.
With time, effort, and dedication, you’ll soon be deadlifting like a boss!
When it comes to weight training, the deadlift is one of the main lifts that you want to master.
Because with only one lift, you can work your neglected posterior chain (back half of your body) and most of the muscle groups of your entire body.
To that end, be sure to review the following foundational articles on the deadlift:
- 7 Deadlift Muscles Worked That Will Change Your Body & Life
- 27 Sensational Ways How Deadlifts Change Your Body
- 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast
- One Great Beginner Deadlift Workout Routine for Powerlifting and Fitness
- 12 Week Deadlift Training Program for Beginners in Fitness or Powerlifting
While the deadlift is a straightforward movement, nevertheless it presents a risk of injury, especially to deconditioned exercisers.
- 15 Safe Deadlift Alternatives that Will Protect a Bad Back
- The Top 15 Proper Form Deadlift Tips For Beginners
- Sumo vs Conventional Deadlift Variation: Which Is Better for You?
- The Top 10 Squat Accessory Movements for a Bigger, Better Squat
Neutral Grip Pullup – Introduction
Neutral grip pull-ups – what are the most important muscles worked and benefits?
Neutral grip pull-ups, chin-ups, and their close relative, pull-ups, are three of the best upper body exercises you can do.
Unlike the lat pulldown, you don’t even need to go to the gym to do them.
Instead, all you need is somewhere suitable to hang from, such as a tree branch, a joist in your garage, or a doorway pull-up bar.
But what makes these exercises so beneficial, and what is the difference between chin-ups and pull-ups
Let’s discuss it!
Chin ups vs Pull ups
While chin-ups and pull-ups share many characteristics, they are dissimilar enough that you should know the differences between them.
Both exercises use the same pulling muscles, but the hand position is different, and that affects your pulling motion and arm action.
Chin-ups use a shoulder-width, supinated grip, or palms up hand position.
This underhand grip puts your biceps in a mechanically advantageous position.
Many exercisers find that this allows them to do more reps than pull-ups.
Because of your hand position, doing chin-ups results in extension of the shoulder joint, meaning your upper arm is pulled down and back close to the side of your body.
Pull-ups use a wider-than shoulder-width, pronated grip, or palms away overhand grip.
The pronated grip is not such an efficient position for pulling, and that makes this variation a little more challenging.
The hardest version of this exercise is wide grip pull-ups, where the hands are placed well outside shoulder-width apart.
Pull-ups involve shoulder adduction rather than shoulder extension.
Shoulder adduction means the arms are drawn down and in toward the midline of the body from the side.
In addition, you can also do pull-ups using a parallel grip, a neutral grip pull up, where your palms face one another.
For difficulty, this pull-up variation falls somewhere between overhand pull-ups and underhand chin ups.
Neutral grip pull-ups are also easier on your elbows than underhand chin-ups.
Because of this, for many exercisers, it’s the best of the three pull-up variations.
Neutral Grip Pull Ups Muscles Worked
Ask a personal trainer what muscles chin-ups and pull-ups work, and they’ll probably tell you that they are both back and biceps exercises.
The reality is that, while that’s true, there is a whole lot more going on when you do these exercises.
The major muscle groups involved in neutral grip pull-ups are:
Latissimus dorsi muscle
These are the large muscles on either side of your spine.
Well-developed latissimus dorsi look like a pair of wings.
These muscles are known as the lats for short.
Your latissimus dorsi muscles are responsible for shoulder extension and shoulder adduction.
The teres major, a muscle that lies beneath the lats, assists the lats in the neutral grip pull up.
The lats are the prime mover agonist, and the teres major is a synergist.
More commonly known as the biceps, this is the muscle on the front of your upper arm.
Its main job is elbow flexion or bending your arm.
Chin-ups work your biceps a little more than pull-ups.
This muscle is located on your forearm and is primarily active during neutral grip pull-ups.
The neutral or palms-facing grip puts this forearm/elbow muscle in a dominant position, which is why most people find this hand position easier than overhand pull-ups.
On the other hand, the brachialis muscle sits below your biceps brachii and is the prime mover of elbow joint flexion.
Lower trapezius muscle
Located below your scapulae or shoulder blades, the lower traps work to keep your shoulders down during pull-ups and chin-ups.
Without this muscle, your shoulders would rise and hit you in the ears!
Middle trapezius and rhomboids
These muscles are across and between your scapulae.
They are responsible for pulling your shoulder blades back and together.
These muscles give your arms a more stable platform from which to work and also protect your shoulder joint from unnecessary wear and tear.
This is the collective name for the various muscles that stabilize and control your shoulder joint.
There are four muscles in the rotator cuff:
- the teres minor, and
Located on the front of your abdomen, your rectus abdominus, or abs for short helps keep your spine stable during pull-ups and chin-ups.
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How To Do Neutral Grip Pullups
To get the most from this or any other exercise, you must do it properly.
Correct exercise performance will make your workout more effective and keep your risk of a shoulder injury to a minimum.
These six steps are the right way to do neutral grip pull ups:
#1. Reach up and grab the parallel handles firmly.
- Wrap your thumbs and fingers around the bar to make sure your grip is as secure as possible.
#2. In the starting position, hang with your arms straight, shoulders pulled down, and back.
- Lift your chest and look up toward the bar.
#3. Bend your legs and cross your ankles if you wish.
#4. Without swinging or kicking, smoothly bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar.
- Keep your chest up throughout.
- Inhale as you ascend.
#5. Extend your arms and lower yourself back down.
- Maintain control and do not just relax and drop.
- Exhale as you descend.
#6. Pause for a second at the bottom of your rep and then go again.
Not strong enough to do neutral grip pull-ups yet?
Here are a few strategies that will help you develop the upper body strength necessary to do your first rep.
Attach a maximum load resistance band to your pull-up bar and then kneel or stand in the loop.
The resistance band will give you a boost, effectively reducing your own body weight, making pull-ups easier to do.
Gradually use weaker resistance bands until you can do this exercise unaided.
You are stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically.
In simple terms, this means you can lower more weight than you can lift.
This marvel is because of the structure of your muscular system.
Make the most of this phenomenon by doing negative pull-ups.
Using a step or box, climb up to the top of your pull-up rep.
Take your legs away and lower yourself down slowly and smoothly, using just your arms.
Climb back up and repeat.
In time, your strength will increase, and you’ll be able to do full, from the bottom to top pull-ups.
For this method, simply place a box or chair behind you.
Adopt your usual pull-up position, but put your feet on the chair or top of the box.
Use your legs to help you pull yourself up.
Use less leg assistance as you get stronger.
Neutral Grip Pull Up Benefits
Neutral grip pull-ups are not an easy exercise to master, although most people should be able to work up to doing them in time.
It is worth persevering with this exercise because they are very beneficial.
#1. Build a more muscular back
When it comes to building your lats, neutral grip pull-ups are tough to beat.
They work your lats through a wide range of motion with lots of muscle tension, and that’s the perfect recipe for muscle growth.
#2. Pump up your biceps
While most people think of pull-ups as a back exercise, they are an excellent biceps exercise too.
Because the biceps is a smaller, weaker muscle than the lats, some say that pull-ups are an arm exercise first and an exercise for your back, second.
Either way, if you want more muscular arms, pull-ups can help.
#3. Strengthen your grip
Pull-ups involve lifting your own bodyweight using just your arm muscles.
The pull-up will test and develop your forearm and grip strength.
A firm grip can be essential.
In sports, it can be the difference between winning or losing to an opponent in wrestling or football.
You also need grip strength to perform deadlifts.
At home, it’ll make opening tight-lidded jars much more manageable.
If nothing else, a more substantial grip will give you a firmer handshake.
#4. Boost your deadlift performance
A good form deadlift starts with strong lats.
Your lats make sure the weight stays close to your center of gravity so you can lift heavier loads more efficiently.
Keeping the barbell close to your center of gravity, against your shins as you deadlift, will keep you safe from back pain or injury.
Neutral-grip pull-ups are one of the best deadlift assistance exercises because they develop stronger lats for better deadlifts.
#5. Weight loss and improved body composition
Neutral grip pull-ups can help you lose weight and fat in several different ways.
Burn more calories:
The more muscles an exercise involves, the more calories you’ll burn doing it.
Pull-ups use several substantial and lots of small muscles, which means you’ll burn a whole lot of calories whenever you do them.
Boost your metabolism:
Pull-ups build muscle, and muscle tissue is metabolically active, which means it needs calories to sustain it.
The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn per day.
So, indirectly, getting better at pull-ups will lead to faster fat loss.
Circuit training program:
Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups are perfect for circuit training because they involve minimal set-up time.
You can move quickly from one activity to the next, which increases your calorie expenditure.
Circuit training is one of the best workout methods for fat burning.
Pull-ups get more comfortable as you start to lose weight.
That can be both rewarding and motivating.
Use pull-ups to remind you of just one of the benefits of weight loss – increased athleticism!
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The Best Neutral Grip Pull-up Bars
To do neutral grip pull-ups, you need a pull-up bar with parallel handles.
Here are some of the best neutral grip pull-up bars for home use:
#1. Power tower
- [STABLE and FIRM] The power tower is made of high-quality steel...
- [ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT] The pull up station has 5 adjustable height from...
- [MULTI-FUNCTION EQUIPMENT] This standing machine supports push-ups,...
This freestanding power tower is ideal for many bodyweight and free weight exercises, not least neutral grip pull-ups.
#2. Ceiling-mounted pull-up bar
- GRONK-UP YOUR PULL-UP: Master the king of upper body exercises using...
- ZERO-HUSSLE ASSEMBLY: 48" wide to fit standard studs. The Gronk...
- USE MULTIPLE GRIPS & TRAIN LIKE A PRO: The difference between results...
Screw this multi-grip pull-up bar to your ceiling for lots of pull-up and chin-up options, including neutral grip pull-ups.
#3. Doorway pull-up bar
- NEW VERSION - ONE PIECE STEEL CONSTRUCTION: A single piece of solid...
- 5 THICK PADDED GRIP POSITIONS: Come with 5 grip positions with soft...
- ENHANCE UPPER BODY STRENGTH: Perfect for working out your backs,...
Easy to install and remove, doorway pull-up bars are excellent for home exercisers who don’t have space for a power tower or don’t want to put up a permanent pull-up bar.
This product has parallel handles for neutral grip pull-ups.
#4. Wall-mounted pull-up bar
- ✅ Easy Assembly -- Be it concrete, brick on cinder blocks, you can...
- ✅ Heavy Duty Steel Construction -- This wall mounted pull up bar is...
- ✅ Multiple Grip Positions -- You can grip this pull up bar in the...
if you have a garage gym, a wall-mounted pull-up bar will make a great, space-saving addition.
This one offers several hand positions, including neutral.
#5. Neutral grip pull-up handles
- SET OF 2 STEEL ROTATING PULL UP HANDLES
- ANTI-SLIP RUBBER PADDING: The rubber interior helps stabilize the pull...
- SMOOTH 360-DEGREE ROTATION: The free rotating action helps rotate your...
if you have a straight pull-up bar, you can use after-market handles to do neutral grip pull-ups.
Just attach them to your bar to add variety to your pull-up workouts.
Neutral Grip Pull Ups – Wrapping Up
If you aren’t already doing neutral grip pull-ups, it’s time to start.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or advanced exerciser; doing neutral grip pull-ups can help you reach new levels of fitness and strength.
You can do this excellent exercise at home, making it very convenient if not completely excuse-free.
While neutral grip pull-ups are a challenging exercise, they are also one of the best exercises you can do for your upper body muscles, not to mention a wider back.
Whatever your fitness goals are, all styles of pull ups, and chin-ups for that matter, will help you reach them sooner.
Chin-ups and regular pull-ups are both popular upper-body compound exercises.
But, while they are similar, they are also different enough that it’s essential to know which is which, and which one you should do when.
Explore the similarities and differences between chin-ups vs pull-ups so you can choose the right one for your goals.
By the end, you will be able to pick a winner in the battle of Chin-Ups vs Pull-Ups; Which Is Better To Build Muscle?
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