Front lever

Dead Lift Strength Through Body Weight Exercise Part 2

In Leg Training, Methods & Success Mindset, Progressive Calisthenics, Uncategorizedby Matt

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In the last post I covered the hits and misses of body weight training when compared to the dead lift.

In short, nothing can bring you the same benefits of dead lifting other than the dead lift. This goes for all forms of training. While there is some carry over from a specific exercise to a similar one, the best way to get the strength of any exercise is through that very exercise.

This idea might ruffle some feathers. Our fitness and strength culture loves to latch onto the idea that as long as you do a certain exercise or workout program than you’ll be strong for anything.

I hate to burst your bubble, but nothing makes you capable for anything and everything. There are always performance parameters that you’re missing no matter what you do.  But don’t let that discourage you. Let it motivate you to be selective about the performance characteristics that are important to you and go after those with passion!

Don’t let other’s tell you that you’re weak or not fit because you can’t do something very well. There’s always something you’re going to suck at, so it’s best to focus on what you want to be good at.

Okay enough jibba-jabba!

Let’s look at some of the most effective body weight exercises to build up that posterior chain for pulling strength.

#1- Glute-Ham raise

ghdThis is probably the closest thing body weight training offers in relation to dead lifting technique. More specifically a strait or stiff leg dead lift.

It works the entire posterior chain, plus you can change your technique to focus on your glutes, hamstrings,  and spinal erectors. The only down side is that it is one of the most costly body weight exercises since it requires an expensive piece of equipment.

#2- Bridging


The bridge is a classic exercise for the posterior chain. One of the benefits of bridging is that it stretches out the anterior chain at the same time. There are many bridging variations and I highly recommend putting at least one in your program.

#3- Lever work

front lever


This exercise surprised the hell out of me when I first started doing it. I had been dead lifting and picking up heavy things for years and yet, I still struggled to pick up and carry the awkward heavy fitness equipment that was routine in my line of work.

Once I started doing even a little lever work, those treadmills and ellipticals suddenly became a heck of a lot easier to pick up and move around.

#4- Squats

A true master of leg strength hard at work.

No matter what form of training you enjoy, you simply must have strong legs for ground based pulling strength.

Squats, and particularly single leg squats fit the bill nicely since they also involve the hamstring and glutes in a functional manner similar to when you need to pick up and pull something heavy.

What say you? Are there any exercises you enjoy that help you stand up straiter and pull a lot harder?