Once your deadlift mechanics are sound, only then should you start training to hoist massive weight from the floor. But that won’t happen if your supporting muscles—your back, hamstrings, and glutes—aren’t strong, too. To help target them, try the deadlift row, heavy shrug, and pullup, recommends 23-year-old deadlifting monster Cailer Woolam (nickname: Doctor Deadlift).
Last November, Woolam set the raw world record for the deadlift in the 100kg weight class by pulling 420kg (Raw means he only used a weight belt.) So if Woolam says to add these moves post-deadlifting or on a separate day if you’re going super heavy, we’re inclined to listen.
According to Woolam, a traditional row activates more of your arms, taking away from your back gains. But this hybrid row has you dead- lift the weight up and then row to hit your deadlift muscles and back with less arm action.
“If your upper back is weak, you’re going to round forward and won’t be able to lock the weight out,” Woolam says. The best way to remedy this? Heavy-ass shrugs. One note: Woolam says to set up in a rack, since continually pulling the bar up from the floor will burn you out. And do not use straps to strengthen your grip.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Stand in front of a racked barbell in a conventional deadlift stance.
- Unrack the weight and shrug your shoulders to your ears.
Do 4 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
“I’ve noticed over time that pullups aren’t just great for building mass in my back but also for strength,” says Woolam, who at 220 pounds can perform 20 bodyweight pullups and five with 90 additional pounds dangling between his legs. He swears by them as the ultimate back builder.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Hang from a pullup bar with a shoulder-width grip.
- Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
Do 4 sets to failure on your deadlift days and 4 to 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps of weighted pull-ups on a separate day.