Make your sticking point less sticky, produce more force, and unleash your strength. Hit your next PR in 12 weeks.
Deadlift sticking points are frustrating. Here are three strategies that’ll change everything and get you pulling more weight.
Goal: Prime the CNS and break through sticking points.
One method stands out when it comes to strength, power output, and breaking through your toughest plateaus: overcoming isometrics.
What does “overcoming isometrics” even mean? It’s when you exert maximal effort against an immovable object for 5 to 10 seconds. This is typically achieved by pushing or pulling against a barbell placed securely into pins.
The specific placement of the isometric contraction should correspond to the position where you typically experience a sticking point during your lift. By targeting this specific weak point, you can address and overcome it.
Right after the intense isometric contraction, do another rep or two, moving through the full range of motion. This allows you to capitalize on the primed nervous system and tap into the benefits of the isometric.
By combining the isometric contraction with the dynamic movement (a deadlift), you get an optimized window of time lasting 5 to 9 minutes. During this period, the nervous system is primed to recruit higher threshold motor units. This ramped-up physiological state is optimal for training strength, speed, and power, allowing you to tap into your full potential.
Goal: Greater force production and biomechanical stimuli.
Athletes are constantly seeking innovative techniques to enhance their performance. One method is accommodative resistance using chains. It’s an approach that introduces additional resistance during an exercise’s concentric or lifting phase. By strategically incorporating chains into your training, you can unlock the potential for greater force production and experience unique biomechanical stimuli.
The fundamental principle behind chain training is called “variable resistance.” During the upward, or concentric, action of a movement, the chains act as additional load. As the chains lift off the ground in segments, the bar gets heavier on the way up. This requires you to exert more force to overcome the increased resistance. The result? A substantial challenge that increases muscle recruitment and activation.
The chains’ impact becomes particularly evident during the latter stages of the concentric action. While the initial rep may be a slightly slower tempo due to the added resistance, you can perform the subsequent reps with increased velocity and a higher rate of force development.
Your body will want to move faster after the chains are removed. By shedding them, you’ll be able to accelerate your movement at a greater velocity, resulting in a rapid rate of force production.
Beyond the immediate effects on force production, the addition of chains also introduces distinct biomechanical stimuli. By altering the resistance throughout the movement, you’ll experience a modified mechanical load, which will engage muscles and motor units in a unique manner compared to traditional, straight weight-training methods.
This variability in exercise execution promotes muscular adaptations and improves athletic performance. Here’s how to do chain-releasing deadlifts:
- Set up the chains: Drape them over the barbell. Make sure they’re evenly distributed on both sides and securely attached.
- Prepare for the lift: Approach the barbell with proper form. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your grip aligned with your shoulders. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core muscles.
- Execute the first rep: Lift the barbell off the ground, applying force to overcome the resistance of the chains. The additional weight from the chains will challenge your muscles and require greater force production. Complete the first rep of the deadlift.
- Chain removal: After completing the first rep, have a training partner or spotter remove the chains from the barbell. This should be done swiftly but safely, allowing you to transition smoothly to the second rep.
- Accelerate through the second rep: With the chains removed, take advantage of the reduced resistance and aim to accelerate through the repetition. This acceleration allows you to experience greater velocity and rate of force development compared to the first rep.
Goal: Unleash strength and stability.
What’s so great about an eccentric or negative-focused deadlift? By prioritizing the controlled lowering phase, this approach places a greater demand on the body’s stability and reduces injury risk, reinforces (proper) technique, and improves strength, power, movement efficiency, mobility, and hypertrophy. What’s not to love?
Start from the lockout position or close to it. A training partner removes the pins or boxes, allowing you to focus solely on the eccentric portion of the lift. Depending on the training level, you can use lighter loads for novice lifters, focusing on perfecting technique, or challenge more advanced athletes with supramaximal loading.
Focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement and avoid excessive rounding or hyperextension. Start with lighter weights and gradually progress as your technique and strength improve.
On week thirteen, test your 1RM and see what these strategies have done for you over the previous twelve weeks. Pay attention to what used to be your sticking points and see if they’ve gotten a lot smoother.
Please note that this training example does NOT include any additional accessory lifts. Just deadlifts. So keep doing the ones you know work best for you, and keep recovery at the top of mind.
- Do 4 sets of 1 rep, holding the barbell with 75-135 pounds for 7-10 seconds in an isometric hold at or just before your sticking point.
- Follow with 4 sets of 3 reps of regular deadlifts using 75% of your 1RM.
- Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.
- Do 3 sets of 1 rep, holding the barbell with 75-135 pounds for 7-10 seconds in an isometric hold at or before sticking point.
- Follow with 3 sets of 3 reps using 78% of 1 RM.
- Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets.
- Do 2 sets of 1 rep. Hold the barbell with 75-135 pounds for 7-10 seconds in an isometric hold at or before sticking point.
- Follow with 2 sets of 3 reps of deadlifts using 82% of 1 RM.
- Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets.
- No isometric holds.
- Do 3 sets of 3 reps using 60-70% of 1 RM.
- Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets.
- Do 4 sets of 2 reps using 85% of 1RM. Add 40-80 pounds of chains to the barbell for the first rep and remove them for the second rep.
- Do 3 sets of 2 reps using 87.5% of 1RM. Add 40-80 pounds of chains to the barbell for the first rep and remove them for the second rep.
- Do 2 sets of 2 reps using 90% of 1RM. Add 40-80 pounds of chains to the barbell for the first rep and remove them for the second rep.
- Do 4 sets of 2 reps using 65-75% of 1RM without any chains.
- Do 4 sets of 1 rep using 92.5% of 1RM. Start the lift from lockout position.
- Follow with 3 sets of 1 rep using 98% of 1RM with an overload. Start the lift from lockout position.
- Do 3 sets of 1 rep using 95% of 1RM. Starting the lift from lockout position.
- Follow with 2 sets of 1 rep using 100% of 1RM with an overload. Start the lift from lockout position.
- Do 2 sets of 1 rep using 97-98% of 1RM. Start the lift from lockout position.
- Follow that with 1-2 sets of 1 rep using 102-105% of 1RM with an overload. Start the lift from lockout position.
- No eccentric work.
- Do 4 sets of 1 rep at 75-80% of 1RM.
- Deadlift 1RM test. Aim for a personal record.