Training with bodyweight / household equipment is tough, but very doable for squat, push, and pull movement patterns. But what about the deadlift? If you are someone who has built their deadlift up to a respectable standard, then it's much harder to replicate the kind of weight you could get with a barbell.
In fact, the first thing I'm going to tell you is that you should probably put any hopes of increasing your deadlift strength to bed. There's a reason why barbells are so popular, and I think this pandemic is finally making people realise their versatility.
Instead, we need to accept the situation and try to maintain as much deadlifting strength as possible.
Volume > Intensity
Intensity refers to the weight on the bar. Although I generally prioritise intensity over volume (especially for the deadlift), that is clearly not an option during this pandemic. Therefore we need to use as much volume as we can to target the muscles of the deadlift.
This means we are going to use multiple sets of multiple exercises to try and convince our body that it's worth keeping size on the muscles of the back, glutes and hamstrings.
Probably the closest weight we're going to get to the barbell is another person. Now, let me be clear, I'm not suggesting you breach HSE guidelines here. If you're going to deadlift someone, it should really be someone you are already living with or at least in close proximity to most days, and you should wash your hands after training.
The toughest version of this I've figured out so far can be seen in the image on the right, whereas the one on the left is significantly easier. I'm also going to be experimenting with one or two other options that I'll be sure to update you with should they turn out superior.
Single Leg Deadlifts
Although standing on one leg won't solve the issue of our back being underloaded, it can help greatly with increasing the work of the glutes and hamstrings. If you have a dumbbell or kettllebell, this is an accessory exercise worth including in your workout.
Even if you have no weights available, it's worth using just bodyweight as it's a good hip mobility exercise.
Back Raises and Hypers
Not much needed to explain here. Either of these exercises will train the lower back and keep it healthy. You should be aiming for 10 - 20 reps, adding in a pause at the top of the movement if needed.
Closing Thoughts: The Argument for the Home Gym
By now, the people with home gyms are laughing smugly, and deservedly so. Though this COVID-19 situation will eventually pass, be under no illusion that it's a once-off thing. Epidemiologists and infectious disease experts have been warning for years about our society's vulnerability to a potent flu strain. Even with excellent prevention measures in place, we will always be at the mercy of a perfect viral storm.
So if you can afford it, a home gym is an excellent investment that will quickly pay for itself after a year or two of zero gym fees. A barbell, rack, and plates, is enough to help your gains survive any emergency.