If you’re looking to supercharge your Deadlift routine, you’ve come to the right place. Deadlifts are an excellent foundational movement for building strength and muscle, but combining them with other exercises in a superset can take your workout to the next level.
In this article, I’m sharing the 10 best exercises to pair with Deadlifts for maximum gains (and to maximize your time!).
Whether you’re a gym veteran or just starting out, these supersets will help you optimize your training for better results, faster.
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Keys to Choosing an Exercise to Superset with Deadlifts
Choosing the right exercises to superset with Deadlifts can make a significant impact on the effectiveness of your workout. Deadlifts are a compound movement that engages multiple muscle groups, and finding the perfect complementary exercise requires careful consideration.
Here are 5 key factors to look for:
Muscle Group Targeting
Consider pairing exercises that target different muscle groups than the deadlift to avoid overtaxing the same muscles. This can be particularly hard with Deadlifts because they involve so much of the body.
However, as an example, since Deadlifts focus primarily on your posterior chain, you might choose an exercise that targets your upper body.
The intensity of the supersetting exercise should be balanced with that of the deadlift. You don’t want to pair a high-intensity movement that could compromise your form or safety during the deadlifts.
Make sure the exercises you choose can be performed with the available equipment and within the same general area in the gym. This helps in minimizing transition time between exercises.
Your overall fitness goals—whether it’s muscle gain, fat loss, or endurance—should guide your choice. Some exercises are better suited for hypertrophy, while others may be more effective for improving athletic performance.
Think about how easy it will be to recover from the superset. Combining two very strenuous exercises might not be sustainable over multiple sets without completely wiping you out (unless, of course, that’s your intention).
Best Exercises to Superset with Deadlifts
Here are my favorite exercises to combo with Deadlifts, in no particular order.
Why: This bodyweight exercise targets the chest and triceps, offering a nice contrast to the posterior chain focus of deadlifts. Push-Ups are a convenient and accessible way to balance your workout.
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
- Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
- Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
- Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
- Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
- Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
- Lock out your push-up and pause.
- Slowly lower yourself back down and get ready for the next repetition from just above the ground. Do not fully relax at the bottom of the push-up unless your program specifies.
Bent Over Rows
Why: Bent Over Barbell Rows target the upper back, helping to strengthen muscles that are synergistic with those used in deadlifts. It helps improve your pulling strength and postural stability.
Just be careful because both exercises put an enormous strain on the erectors of the lower back and injuries can happen if form breaks down due to fatigue.
- Approach the barbell and take a shoulder-width stance. Your shins should be almost touching the barbell.
- Hinge at the waist and bend the knee until you can grab the barbell. Use a pronated grip (Knuckles facing the floor). I will talk later about the supinated grip (palms up) in this movement.
- Always keep a flat back, and a neutral spine, and keep your eyes focused slightly down about 1 foot in front of you.
- Take a deep breath, brace the abdomen, and pull the bar in until it makes contact right about the belly button.
- Pause for about 1 second. Squeeze the shoulder blades and lock in the rep.
- Slowly return the barbell back to the starting position (weights about 1-2 inches off the ground).
Why: Planks focus on core strength, which is vital for maintaining good form during deadlifts. It’s a less intense move that still contributes to overall stability and strength.
- Start on the ground on your stomach.
- Assume a push-up like position on your elbows and toes. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders.
- Position your body in a straight line from the shoulders through the hips, knees and ankles.
- Brace the core tight. (As if you’re going to be punched in the stomach)
- Do not let the body slouch to the ground nor push the hips up high in the air.
- Hold for the designated amount of time.
Why: Targeting the quadriceps and glutes, Dumbbell Lunges provide a nice complement to the hamstring and lower back focus of Deadlifts. They also help improve lower body mobility and balance.
- Grab two dumbbells, one in each hand
- Squeeze the shoulder blades and engage the lats to create a stable back to help with bracing the upper body
- Once you’ve created enough room for yourself from the dumbbell rack (or wherever you pulled them from) you can begin the movement.
- Step forward with one leg, giving yourself enough room to drop into a lunge comfortably without feeling overextended.
- Keep the chest as upright as possible and drop the back knee to roughly one inch from the floor.
- Now drive through the heel and midfoot of the front foot to drive yourself back up tall.
- Repeat on the opposite leg and alternate back and forth until all reps have been completed.
Why: This plyometric exercise is excellent for building explosive power. Box Jumps engage the hips, legs and core in a different manner than deadlifts, making it a good choice for athletes.
- Grab a box that is the proper height for your jumping ability
- Start just far enough away from the box so that your hands will not hit the box when you swing them.
- Once you’re in position, stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
- Now raise your arms overhead and extend up onto the balls of the feet.
- Start your countermovement by hinging at the hips, bending the knees and throwing the hands down and back behind the body.
- Immediately redirect by driving the feet through the floor, throwing the hands up and triple extending through the hips, knees and ankles.
- Land softly on the box by bending the knees upon landing and absorbing the force of impact.
- Step down off the box and repeat.
Why: Face Pulls target the rear deltoids and upper traps, improving shoulder stability. This can be beneficial for maintaining a strong, safe posture during deadlifts.
Can be done with a cable (as shown above) or with a resistance band.
- To begin, adjust the cable machine to a high setting and attach a rope attachment to the pulley.
- Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the rope with both hands, using a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
- Extend your arms in front of you so that the rope is taut, and step back slightly to create tension in the cable.
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine as you pull the rope towards your face, keeping your elbows wide and your hands level with your ears.
- As you pull the rope towards your face, squeeze your shoulder blades together and imagine that you are trying to pinch a quarter between your shoulder blades.
- Hold the contraction for a moment, then slowly release the tension in the cable and return to the starting position.
Why: Focusing on the triceps, Pushdowns can balance out the bicep engagement that comes with the pulling motion of deadlifts. It’s an excellent option for full-body workout balance.
- Step up a cable machine by sliding the pin all the way to the top of the beam.
- Attach the rack attachment of your choice.
- Grab the attachment and pull the attachment down until your elbows are next to your sides (arms should still be bent).
- Now, extend the arms down by flexing the triceps and driving the attachment toward the floor.
- Squeeze the triceps at full extension for one second and then slowly allow the attachment to raise back to the starting position.
- Keep elbows tucked into the sides throughout the movement.
Why: This cardio-intensive move helps elevate your heart rate while also engaging your core. Mountain Climbers also add an aerobic element to the more anaerobic nature of Deadlifts.
- Begin in a push-up position – hands under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line
- Now raise one knee toward the chest and place the ball of the foot on the ground – from this position you’re ready to begin performing reps.
- Drive one leg up and place the foot right next to where the opposite foot just left.
- Simultaneously extend the ‘up foot’ back to the original starting position.
- Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed. (count moving left and right legs up as one rep)
Hanging Leg Raises
Why: Hanging Leg Raises target the lower abdominals, a muscle group not directly worked in the deadlift. Strengthening the lower abs can help improve your lifting posture and core stability.
- Find yourself a pull-up bar and grip the bar with an overhand grip.
- Engage your lats so your body doesn’t go limp once you begin to hang.
- Now hang from the bar and keeping your legs straight, drive them up to hip height (or slightly above hip height).
- Finally, actively lower your legs back to the starting position – don’t allow the legs to just swing down.
Medicine Ball Slams
Why: Medicine Ball Slams are an explosive exercise that is fantastic for engaging your core and upper body. It also offers a cardio boost, increasing the overall intensity of your workout.
- Grab a medicine ball and stand tall with feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
- Reach the medicine ball high overhead.
- Using the core, pull the body down – hinging forward at the hips.
- Follow through with the arms and release the ball.
- Let the ball slam into the ground, catch it off the bounce and repeat for the designated number of reps.
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Supersets can be a game-changing addition to your Deadlift routine, enhancing both your strength and even your cardio. By carefully selecting exercises that complement the Deadlift, you can target a variety of muscle groups and fitness elements like stability, power, and endurance.
Whether you’re looking to bulk up, improve athletic performance, or just add some variety to your workouts, these 10 exercises offer something for everyone.
Incorporate them into your next Deadlift session and experience the gains and benefits of a well-rounded workout.