T Nation

Deadlift experts please respond

I start and finish each deadlift rep on the ground. A colleague recently chastised me for not maintaining constant tension. He starts first rep on the ground and then ends/starts each subsequent rep from a couple of inches above the ground. What do our deadlift experts do?

i start and end every repon the floor as well. i’m a powerlifter and at the weight i use, keeping the weight from touching the floor would fry my back. I wouldn’t be able to recover for my next workout.

Im not sure if this helps but this is straight from the guys at T-mag… You both may be wrong…Kinda :wink:

Mistake #7: Training with multiple reps

Next time you see someone doing multiple reps on the deadlift, take note of the form of each rep. You’ll see the later reps look nothing like the first. In competition you only have to pull once, so you need to learn how to develop what’s known as starting strength for the deadlift. This is the strength needed to get the bar off the floor without an eccentric (negative) action before the start.

In other words, you don’t lower the bar first and then lift the weight as you do with the squat and bench press. When you train with multiple reps you’re beginning to develop reversal strength, which isn’t needed with the deadlift.

These two reasons are enough to keep the deadlift training to singles. If you’re using multiple reps with the deadlift, then stand up in between each rep and restart the lift. This way you’ll be teaching the proper form and be developing the right kind of strength.

With all due respect to Dave Tate, who that quote came from, he’s a powerlifter, not a bodybuilder. So he could obviously give a rats ass about hypertrophy, and cares more about proper form for strength.



Getting to the question, my personal opinion is if that you stop mid-eccentric with any decent ammount of weight, you are asking for a back injury. Occiasonally I will see someone stop above the floor, and it’s generally followed by a .2 second concentric and a 4 second pause at the top. Who are they kidding?

When I was younger and more concerned with moving big weights I would start and end on the ground. Now, I don;t even use a barbell. As my back starting giving me little aches and pains, I switched to dumbells while avoiding the bottom portion of the rep (this is great for those of you who have had to avoid deads due to disc problems!)

Both methods have their place in a bodybuilding schedule. Without me getting into detail here, just check out Ian King’s most recent 4-stage leg routine in the previous issues. This routine combines both methods and explains the benefits of doing both.

You can still touch the floor and maintain tension.

Start from the floor. Don’t bounce the weight. I prefer resetting after the completion of a rep if performing multiple rep sets. I wouldn’t recommend using more than 4-6 reps for deadlifts, regardless of your training goals.

I think the starting strength developed from breaking the weight off the ground is the most valuable benefit about dead lifts. Also from a safety point of view the eccentric portion of a dead lift is quick. If you believe that size gains come mainly from wear and tear (high time under tension/constant tension) on the eccentric portion, then dead lifts are not a good exercise.

I do mine as touch-and-goes: maintain tension but do a light touch to the floor. There are problems with both methods. With singles, a lifter tends to break form on the descent. Is that a big deal? Maybe not, as they’ll get a chance to reset form prior to the next rep. For touch-and-goes or reversals off the floor, the form tends to go to hell throughout the lift. As long as you keep the form tight and don’t go too fast on the descent, then either method will work.

I like to keep constant tension as well. I find it helps out on development and keeping strict form. When I lift off the ground, I tend to round my back slightly but when I go to the bottom and avoid letting the bar rest on the ground, I keep better form. Also I think it is better for developing your shoulder girdle and forearems as the time under tension is greater.

Right or wrong, I start from a standing position holding the weight. I set the rack at a low height, grab the barbell from there, take a step back and go to work. This helps me get in the right mindset and get used to the weight of the bar. Granted, I am a puss and pulled 275 last night and thought I was king of the world, so I wouldn’t really listen to my advice.

Every rep starts on the ground. Sure, it takes an extra second or two to reset for each rep, but it makes each rep much better. I don’t recommend doing each rep without touching the ground. The people I see doing this use horrible form and tend to have rounded backs. Do them the right way. Get the most out of the deadlift. Not touching the ground makes the lift easier so you may look more impressive to your gym buddies when you’re lifting heavier weights. But when you go home with incredible lower back pain, you feel like an ass. And your short change yourself on making better gains.

I always re-set between reps. I may even wait a few seconds (5 or 10) between reps (cluster training). It makes sense to do it this way from a strength standpoint, particularly if you have a weak start.

I don’t think it is easier when you don’t touch the ground, in fact I think it is harder because you have to make sure you are in control the entire time. I agree with you when people break form they look bad and dangerous with deadlifts but if you keep good form, control the lift on both the concentric and the eccentric part of the lift, it is tougher because you have to stop the weight’s direction and reverse the force on the weight yourself as opposed to letting the floor do that for you. You have to use a full range of motion as well. I go until the weights are only an inch or two off the floor but I don’t set them down. This way I get the full range of motion and a complete time under tension.

I reset after each rep. I feel it’s much better for the body in general, particularly the lower back, and I feel that be resetting I can do more reps with more weight. It doesn’t take that much longer per set if you just stand back up, take a breath, and then go down to the barbell again.

What I’ve learned from reading here is “…it depends”.
What are you interested in? If you’re a classical bodybuilder, you probably want to get big. Stop all that functional-apply-to-life-and-sport thing. Just read the last “If you had the balls” (thanks Ron Harris, sometimes I’m missing the word to express my thoughts and ideas and you give inspiration…)
This are some ideas that come to my mind:

  • In general, if you are in a period when you use higher repetitions, say 8-10, you might try not to rest the weight on the floor. If you are tired or feeling you’re loosing form (let’s say around 6th repetition) just rest a couple of seconds when you stand up and do further 2 reps!!

  • If you train you back with many other exercises first, then you’ll need a lighter weight that allows you not to rest the barbell on the ground, and not loose your form for 6 or 8 repetitions.

  • If you feel some pain when you go lower than a certain point, you might try to unrack the barbell from a very low rack, so that at the beginning it makes you bend just as if you reverse the lifting at 20-30 inches. I know this is not a real solution, but you could have the advantage of resetting your body every repetitions, avoid the lowest part, even use an heavier weight, and have a little rest in a more confortable positition (I literally gasp for air when I’m down, in that brief time before starting the next rep!!)

I know that the purists of powerlifting way are a bit bothered by this sissy-solutions, but I find them worthy, sometimes, in a bodybuilding arsenal. Just to prevent people thinking I go for the 20-pounds-barbell-down-to-mid-thigh… yes, I sometimes periodize deadlift at the beginning of the work-out, and do only that movement, and low rep range, and wave the weights 5-1-5-1, resetting every repetition, and at the end I do the unloading set for 12-15 reps with lighter weights and without pause in the bottom position… just a mix of the two methods, and a homage to Ian King.

As far as form is concerned… My form looks its best at the 2nd or 3rd rep. By then my whole body is tight and locked. My first rep is the hardest and NO I dont bounce the weight. I dont like the slack. it takes away from the tight comfy feeling and form. My form only gets a little hairy is in the firt rep and when I start to see stars and black out on my last rep. I am still trying to learn to keep things tight in the first rep… I have only been dead lifting for 5 mons…415 personal one rep best… twice my body weight, I can not wait for three times my body weight.

I re-set between reps. My deads have exploded after I began doing this, too.