This is my “secret” exercise for improving what is generally the weakest point of a lifter once you start getting into near-maximal weights on the deadlift…and that’s the core. More specifically, it’s the core “folding” as the pressure of the heavy weight overcomes the bracing pressure you’re able to exert with your core to support your torso.
That’s where this exercise comes into play…and it targets that issue VERY specifically. When done consistently, you could absolutely increase your deadlift by 20 to 50 lbs or more, depending on how limiting your core is to start with AND you’ll be able to maintain better lumber spine position as you’re lifting, which will protect your back.
It’s a GREAT exercise…though it will be extremely uncomfortable. But I have a feeling if you’re seeking to lift massive weights in the deadlift, you’re not concerned with staying comfortable anyway.
So to do ths one, you’ll need two bars and a rack. A bar pad is also useful here, though a rolled-up towel will do in a pinch, if you don’t have a bar pad.
Set the safety rails to just above knee height and put the barbell pad on the bar. Push the bar right up against the uprights of the rack.
Set a barbell on the ground just in front of the rack. Start with a lighter weight…just 135 lbs the first time you do this. You can work up from there as needed. I’m using 225 lbs and it’s tough.
Next, get yourself into position as though you were about to do a deadlift (the position won’t be exactly the same, but very close). The bar in the rack should be right in your belly.
Now lift the bar off the ground. Your abs will have NO CHOICE but to brace and brace HARD. Because if they don’t, the bar doesn’t come off the ground and your internal organs get mashed.
Hold for 10 to 15 seconds or so, then set the bar back down on the ground. Rest a few seconds then repeat. Do 3 to 5 reps then rest 60 to 90 seconds then go again. Do at least 3 sets of this.
This is not only going to train you to brace your core at the start of the deadlift but will also really strengthen those bracing muscles in the core. It’s incredibly effective at targeting the exact position needed for preventing that “foldover” that occurs when you get into heavier weights in the deadlift.
This exercise can be trained along with the deadlift or on separate days. If you train it on the same day, you can do it one of two ways…before you do heavy lifting, to fire up those bracing muscles (in which case, you want to stay lighter so you don’t pre-fatigue them too much and compromise core stability) or you can do them right after. If you do them after, you can go heavier and not have to worry about it.
Use this exercise at least once a week for 3 to 4 weeks and see how your top-end deadlifts respond. I have a strong feeling you’ll be seeing massive improvements in your heavy deadlifting very quickly, especially if core-folding is an issue for you, like it is for me.
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.