Often when we talk about the deadlift, or even squats and overhead presses, one of the things we focus on is thoracic mobility. We need good thoracic extension to get into the proper position for the deadlift. However, one component we often forget is that we also need to have thoracic extension STRENGTH. Once we have the appropriate range of motion, we need strength within that range to resist flexion under load. Upper back strength is a big contributor to deadlift performance, as well as multisegmental extension strength, all the way down to the lumbar spine.
A few very simple exercises can be integrated to your training regimen that compliment your extension mobility with extension strength and can optimize performance on the deadlift. Horizontal row variations are often under-used and are super good for upper back strength and extension strength due to the position of the torso. A pronated grip bent-over row is a classic upper back exercise and a strong contributor to extension strength. A variation of this row, the Pendlay row, begins with a dead start from the bottom position of the row and resembles picking the bar up off the floor as in a deadlift.
Another great exercise for multisegmental extension strength is the seated Goodmorning. Taking out the contribution of the hips shifts the focus to the lumbar and thoracic extensors.
Watch the full video to hear more!