How to Build the Deadlift Without Deadlifting?

Hey Coach,

In another thread you said "When I competed in weightlifting I could hang power clean 345 x 5 reps and deadlift 600lbs without training the deadlift."

I love the deadlift and have pulled over 600 lbs, but I have stopped training it because I find it so draining mentally even when trained with fairly low volume.

What are methods or alternative exercises to strengthen the deadlift with less neural fatigue?

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Not CT but I’ll come in with heavy KB swing.

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How heavy?

Block Pulls
Good Mornings
Rack Pulls
Close Stance Low Box SSB Squat

Also, strengthen the core, ie Farmers Walks, Suitcase Carries, Zercher Hold, Zercher Carries.
Strengthen the glutes & hamstrings
Train the Deadlift from floor for speed/technique most of the time, it shouldnt be too draining at 40-60% plus maybe a bit of band tension for 6-8 sets of 1.

This is pretty much the Westside/Conjugate approach, although I’m sure most of you are familiar with it, and also know that there is more to it than exercise selection.

To answer your question, the exercises above with strengthening the right muscles to support you should help your deadlift. Sled Drags aren’t bad either, and as already mentioned, heavy KB Swings.

If in doubt, read up in detail on Westside Barbell. Probably one of the most tried and true methods that builds the main lifts without constantly hammering the mainlifts. If programmed well, it doesn’t cause as much neural fatigue even with the Max Effort work.

Good luck


I think that in the case of CT (and Dan John as well) they were doing olympic lifting, so snatch and clean and jerk instead of deadlifting + squatting. Very few olympic lifters deadlift yet they can deadlift a LOT

If you can deadlift 600, the cost of trying to bring it up to 700 to improve your other lifts will be far greater than trying to bring up your snatch directly

45 degree back extensions holding a barbell.

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Good call. I forgot about those. Pete Rubish used to be a big fan.

I second this. I love to use Zercher Back Extensions. Its a complete Posterior chain builder.

Seems like the thread is dead, but for those 45 degree back extensions, I see a lot of people holding plates to their chest or holding barbells, but a great way to make them super tough is to hold a plate - even just a 10lb one - behind your head, making sure not to let it push your neck down of course. This adds weight to the end of the lever and makes the movement crazy difficult. Great standalone movement.


Makes a lot more sense. Plus you don’t have to deal with holding a 45 lb plate to your chest.

Also this

Klokov is badass.