Deadlifting from Deficit/Blocks More Effective?

Hello. My deadlift is a bit stuck in my opinion, but I am not totally sure. Don’t laugh, but my PR single deadlift is 385. As background, I’m 51, stand about 5’8", and tip the scales at around 168 lbs. I feel like my DL should be stronger. Let’s put form aside for right now, because I could probably use some help there, too (if you want I can post a video). Let’s also put aside the GOMAD diet and gaining 75 lbs. of body weight at my age.

All things being equal, do you think doing a block pull off a 2" block, for example, at a heavier weight, would be more effectively than doing a deficit deadlift (let’s say 2") with a lighter weight, in order to help accelerate the amount of weight I can pull from the floor?

In terms of my pulls, so long as I can break the weight off the floor, I generally never fail the lift. Once it gets going, I can lock it out. However, at very heavy weights, it either comes off the floor or it doesn’t. For example, when I pulled 385, everything worked fine. Then I tried 390 (or 395?) and it didn’t move.

I’m willing to do deficits or blocks for a few months, if I am confident one of those would help, but I am not sure which. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks

If you can lift it off the floor i would say that deficits would be better. Or paused deadlifts even.

Well… GOMAD is retarded. And 75lbs is idiotic.
But you do bring up a point that i wanted to start with.
Sure there can be factors that are training related, but… you can progress forever with just training. In most cases people who are interested in training - they already train hard enough. Its not like changing something in the training can add 50% to your deadlift in next years. Its much much less than that.
Every pound of our muscle mass can be trained to lift X amount of weight. For genetic elite its more, for shit genetics its less. So if you have reached the maximum potential of your muscle, you will have to gain more muscle in order to lift more. It just is what it is.

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Some options:
Snatch grip deadlift
Westside style speed day
Work on glutes/hips more for assistance work
Kroc rows

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How often do you train the deadlift, and with what intensity (percentage of 1RM) and for what volume (how many sets and reps?) As RampantBadger said, which assistance lifts are you doing, if any?

I like the feel of deficit deadlifts, because they recruit more quads. Conversely, rack pulls/ deadlifts from blocks work the hamstring and spinal erectors in ways other variations don’t.

I’m currently doing Kroc’s Simple Deadlifting Plan. I don’t know of you have a program or routine you follow, but this is one way to become systematic about the deadlift.


Hi. Thanks for all the comments. To respond to some of the questions above:

  1. I agree with what Hankthetank said about genetic maxes. I just am not sure that I am at my max yet. I don’t think so, but I realize ultimately at my BW there is going to be a limit to what I can lift.

  2. To Rampant-- I have done snatch grip deadlifts, which I really feel in my hamstrings. I’ve never done speed work (for some reason, I tend to lift really slow, and I am not a plyometric type of guy, but I will look into it). I also do split stance hip hinges with a 45 lb kettlebell, which hits my glutes.

  3. To Tried-- I deadlift once a week. I am currently doing the Jauggernaut program (not the AI one, but the one that is online with the spreadsheet on some website). I do rack pulls that are heavier than my floor deadlift (for example, the other day I did 370x5x2 rack, from around 6" off the floor. It was hard, but I’d say about an RPE of 7?

Some other data points-- on Wednesday, I hit 355x5 on the deadlift. I’d say it was a RPE 8. If I really wanted to, I think I could have gotten another one or two, but I whimped out. The month previous, my best 5 rep max was 335. So perhaps I am getting stronger. I know Jauggernaut is focused on hitting rep maxes, rather than one rep maxes, so perhaps the program is working. But I still want to pull a heavier single from the floor. I wonder if I try if I can get better than my current 1 RM.

I appreciate all of the comments so far!

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Sometimes off the floor you just need to be patient, really set your brace and pull for a second or two before anything happens.

If you struggle off the floor it may be good to focus on that area and spend more time practicing that phase of the lift.

Check out these “slack pull deadlifts” where you pause on the floor to build tension and practice starting position before you lift the plates off the floor.

Here’s a longer video about the same idea of building tension in your hips before you pull off the floor.

Deficit deads and rack pulls are both pretty cool. Which one is harder for you? Or which one do you suck at more?

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Thanks again. I will look at those videos. In terms of what is harder for me, I’d say deficit deadlifts because I don’t have the greatest flexibility. On rack pulls, they are easier, but sometimes I have trouble setting up to them because I feel like I am crowding the bar too much and my shoulders are too much in front of the bar.

How much were you pulling snatch grip( sets, reps, weight). I added those in about a year ago and it’s definitely helped my sumo and conventional. You may also want to consider gaining a few lbs. Even 5lbs will make you stronger in the long run. Also you mentioned hip hinges, I personally stick to the big movements and variations of the 3. If your looking to get stronger I would cut out some of the small movements unless they directly help you in some way.

You really can’t discount technique thinking other movements will help. Deadlift is far more technical than its credited for.

Lets face it, rep 1 is hardest and 2 thru whatever are ALWAYS better. Your setup in the deadlift quite frankly makes or breaks that lift because there is no eccentric to reverse (momentum).

When I had trouble from the floor, nothing helped more than pulling sub max heavy singles. By heavy I mean anything over 80%. You focus more on your setup that way and the weight is heavy enough to make you work but light enough to pull it.

I would have a week pulling sub max singles. Then a week off of deads working all the pulling muscles (think bodybuilding) In particular, weighted back raises helped a lot. Then a week of either lighter deficit pulls or good mornings with an SSB bar. Then back to the bodybuilding stuff and repeat. Its a short 4 week wave you can run until another change is necessary.

Watch your deadlift go up…Less actual deadlifting can be a real help if you’re stuck but if your setup is bad, its gonna be tough to increase that lift. Honestly had a guy put 50lbs on my sumo PR just in proper breathing/bracing before pulling in one workout.


Hi. I checked my book. I snatch deadlifted for a few weeks in a row. Here is what I did:


But I am not sure if it helped or not. Maybe I should just keep doing them? Maybe six weeks is not enough.

Hi. I will try this, too. I could probably benefit from going to a real powerlifting gym and spending an hour or two with someone who knows what they’re doing.

Maybe see if you can squeak a few more reps out on a top set instead of multiple sets. Give it some time, see how your reg deadlift goes then go back to the volume for some time before cutting it back again. I recently did 455 snatch grip for 8 or 9 reps but if I was doing a few sets of 8 reps anything over like 385 would probably feel terrible.

Great. This is a good suggestion too. Thanks. I really feel like my DL should be heavier than it currently is

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