T Nation

Deadlifts from a Deficit


Hi T-Nation!

I think I have troubles with the beginning of my deadlift movement. My lockout weight numbers are fairly high compared to my regular DL, and my deficit DL is pretty low, so I think it might be good to do more deficit deadlifts..

I was thinking of doing 5x5 for deads on a deficit for 8 weeks straight, instead of doing 5x5 for the regular deadlift.

Would that be a smart thing to do? Or would my technique on the normal deadlift get worse by not practicing it for that period?

Thanks :slightly_smiling:


First question:
what kind of deadlift are we talking about? 300 pounds, 400, 500, etc

second: how deep is your defecit, and why 5x5 on deads?


Yeah, X2 plus you doing squats?, current dead form and flexibilty. If your dead form is a little shaky, doing deads from a deficit will be dangerous


Hey guys,

-My deadlift is about 450lbs at a bodyweight of 170lbs. I've been told my technique is OK. Oh and it's a regular deadlift, not a sumo.

  • My deficit is just a few plates here I'll be standing on so I can choose how high I'd want it.. I'm poundering between 3 inches or 4-5ish.

And yup, I'm doing squats too.

Looking forward to your replies!


I don't see why it would be a bad idea as long as you are flexible enough. When you're going to go back to regular deadlifting the range of motion will probably feel so short.


Wouldn't box squats be a good idea?



Why would they be a good idea?


Doesn't westside use the idea that doing box squats transfers power to deadlifting because you stop on the box before pushing up?

I thought it builds power off the floor.


Oh brother.

Box squats = lose.

Deficit deads = win.

Also, GMs, KB swings/explosive pull throughs.


I was under that impression as well.


because you can box squat a house, and chicks dig guys who can "squat" a house


Start with a 3" deficit. A jump to 4-5inches may be too much, it depends on your build and flexibilty.

One way that has worked for some is to start on a 1" block with a weight that is reasonably heavy (i.e. not a gut buster) off the floor and add another 1" block each week, keeping the weight the same, until you get to 4 or 5" then add weight as you remove the blocks 1" a week until you're back to floor level. Then see how you go.


Deficit pulls are a great training tool. Not only do they help those that are weak off the floor, they also help those that stall in the usual conventional puller sticking point (just below knees). I find a small deficit- such as standing on a standard 45 lb olympic plate works best.

A greater deficit changes your groove too much. I have usually done these for singles or doubles- with the emphasis on being explosive with either max weight or light (60-70% of max) speed work. But I don't see why you couldn't go with 5s.


That seems like a cool idea! Although finding an 1" plate might be hard to find in my gym unless I stand on some tiny 2.5kg plates lol. I might give it a go though!


I think they would affect you more if you pulled sumo, maybe, because of the increased hamstring /glute involvement. I don't see how they could help a conventional pull, however.


Plank of wood?


Functional isometrics in the lower portion if the lift would also be a good idea. I think Thibs has written about them a few times, so look them up if you need to.


Think about a conventional deadlift, think about a box squat... completely different movements. Boffin hit the nail on the head with when they would be effective...

IMO, nothing beats deficit deads, rack pulls from mid shin, SLDL's, regular deads and front squats for building your deadlift. Get cock strong on those, and your pull will follow.


Front squats?

Are you of the notion that the quads are significantly recruited during the initial drive off the floor?


Are you of the notion? Seriously?

Start of a deadlift is mostly quads and glutes, which front squats will make "cock strong".

As for pulling from a deficit, don't pull from more of a deficit than you can get in position for. If you don't have the flexibility or if it's different form than how you'd pull from the ground, carryover will decrease. Even standing on 1 plate would probably help build even more strength from the floor.

If you want to get scientific about it, a movement can be strengthened up to 15 degrees ROM outside of the motion trained, so if a 1" deficit is within this 15 degrees, you'll be strengthening the start. Even if you go outside of it, you'll still be strengthening that portion since you'll be going through that point, but not as if you were within those 15 degrees and starting the movement.

If you want to get less scientific and just get stronger (I tend to lean towards this option), pick a deficit height you are comfortable with and pull, get stronger, and cycle the exercises Hanley said.