T Nation

Deadlift Weak Off the Floor


I’ve mead steady progress and had success in developing weaknesses in squats and bench but my weak point in deadlifts is always off the floor. Even with sub max weight, if I’m going to fail a rep then the rep just won’t even break the ground. I’ve only ever had one deadlift in two years of training that has gone up but not been locked out and it was sumo. My conventional form has improved greatly but still the sticking point is the same no matter how I pull. Thoughts on how to tackle this?


There could be a few possible reasons…

  1. you’re simply too weak
  2. you don’t know how to activate leg drive in the starting position of the deadlift or you have weak legs
  3. it is simply a result of your leverages

This are just some of the reasons I can think of right now.

As for solutions…

  1. get stronger overall
  2. start doing some deadlift variations or assistance work to focus on bringing up whatever muscle group that’s supposedly lagging

Do post a video of your deadlift and provide us with some information such as how long you’ve been training for and what weight are you deadlifting, at what bodyweight etc.


Sumo is for the most part that way. But failing off the floor conventional I think is either the weight is way to heavy or your not pulling with everything you have. Basically mentally you didn’t believe you had the rep to begin with.


You might also experiment with how close you start your shins to the bar. That can be anywhere between shins touching the bar to shins parallel to the ground.

With shins touching the bar, the start will be harder. Parallel to the ground and the sticking point tends to be higher up.

There’s also some variation in stance width. I find wider means harder off the ground and narrower means harder around the knees.


On top of what the other guys said, do deficit deadlifts and deadlifts paused just off the floor.


Thanks for the replies. My last deadlift session, I got a single for my topset with 162.5kg. My max is 190 currently and my body weight is low 80s. Don’t know it accurately to date. Leg drive is a hard thing for me to cue so I’ve been working on it relentlessly but leg strength, that may be a factor because my squat is just piss poor. (160kg at competition at 81.45kg bw, 155kg a week before at the same weight). I aim on getting my legs much bigger and therefore much stronger, but I’ll get a video up Monday if possible!


Stance wise, I rresemble Pete Rubish if not closer. Going wider in conventional makes me round my upper back, whether this is due to my height or mobility, I don’t know and the closer stance just feels stronger anywho. My shins tend to touch the bar, or have around .5-1 inch room when my hips go down ready to pull, but I still try to keep them semi vertical and pull myself to the bar


Stronger overall is the definite goal and one that I don’t want to ever achieve, because who doesn’t want to keep progressing, right?

Leg drive as discussed in my first reply.

In terms of muscle weakpint training, any ideas? Some say quads, some say hamstrings. My low back and glutes are well developed so I’m confident in ruling these out


If your arms are short, that may just be the way your build. You’ll have to sink the hips lower and you won’t have the same leverage as someone with longer arms.

I’d like to see a video of your deadlift and what are your stats for your squat and front squat?


Squat 160 competition, 155 a week out before competition (last month). My front squat I haven’t tested in a while but always feels strong even in high reps, something competition squat doesn’t hold justice to. I’ll get a video up on Monday when I next deadlift. In terms of my arms, I don’t know how long they are, or what would be considered long if I’m honest. I’m quite a lanky build just shy of 6ft, by like an 1/18th of an inch. The only thing that does look big is my erectors, glutes and shoulders but I’m very partial on this


Sorry, I forgot to ask what your DL is haha. I wanted to compare them.


Still this.


I have the same issue , strengthening the quads , deficit deadlifts , and paused squats can do wonders for you.


I didn’t read thru everyone’s response but some I did read are spot on.

Sumo always hard to get the weight going from the floor. Sumo is FAR more technical than conventional. You have to be spot on when pulling heavy or it won’t go. Your setup is everything to pulling a heavy weight.

Other than that, hamstring strength needs a lot of work. You need strong hips to pull sumo. I would also recommend wide stance box squats at parallel or just below with lighter weight. Good mornings will help for reps.




It sounds pretty reasonable to me. A 160kgs squat with a 190kgs deadlift. I genuinely think you’re not weak off the floor, the weight is just too heavy for you (currently).


I added in barbell hack squats (btb deadlifts) awhile back for a few cycles. After doing those really hard and getting my mentality in check for doing deads balls to the wall, my maxes went up substantially.


Occurs even with light weight. My last amrap set was 162.5kg (85%). First rep went up, the second just wasn’t there at all


Same issue for me. Getting the lats tight by pulling hard on the bar up, before driving my feet into the floor helped get past some plateaus. For reps it’s staying tight for the whole set. I like doing singles where I reset after every rep. It’s still challenging and helps get my form better.
Good luck


T bar rows and GM with my DL stance also helped me