Last week, I received an email question from Rhett in California who had questions about deadlifting, and why some choose to bounce (touch-and-go) their deadlifts, rather than resetting after each rep. I told him I would answer his question in the form of this post.
Regardless of nearly any sport you can compete in, there isn't some sort of deadlift or deadlift variation that won't benefit you in one way or another. Mixed grip, clean grip, snatch grip, sumo, farmer, etc. all promote growth and strength in various parts of the body that have carry over to most other lifts.
The main style of deadlifting is the conventional style (hence the name). As the name implies, the deadlift is initiated by pulling DEAD weight from the floor. While all deadlifts start this way, bouncing deadlifts removes the original state of the barbell's inertia by bringing the bar down with force on the ground in order to rebound it and ease the force it takes to DEADlift it. Let's check out the different benefits that each style can have for your training.
In my opinion, there seems to be only three types of lifting events where bouncing deadlifts is allowed: Crossfit competitions, Guinness book of world record events, and Broz vs. Pros max-rep events.
You can see in the above video that the initial pull is good, the lockout is pretty exaggerated, but that isn't what I am posting this for. You can see that by resting at the top and accelerating the bar down to rebound off the floor, he is effectively removing the DEAD portion of the deadlift. You can also see how the lift is changed when the setup is not re-positioned for the next rep. Now, this can be beneficial for a few reason, but I will go over the drawbacks later.
Obviously, the first benefit of bouncing is you are able to hit more reps. This is beneficial for Crossfit competitions, where there are no "UP" commands, you can just bounce to your heart's content until the event is finished. Important to note that some Strongman competitions do allow bouncing on car deadlifts, but that isn't really the same as a deadlift so I won't delve into that here. It seems to be that prevalence of bouncing has greatly increased as more and more gyms are using rubber bumper plates. Try bouncing with metal plates and you will see a big difference.
The other benefit to bouncing would be more of a hypertrophic benefit. I did the Broz. vs Pros 315 deadlift for max reps (The rule is you can't touch the ground) and I can honestly say that I was toasted for about 3 days afterward. Keeping your body under the constant tension of a deadlift will do some magical things for muscle gains. From a bodybuilding standpoint, occasional bouncing deadlift sets may seem like the way to go for muscle gains.
Now, on to some of the drawbacks of bouncing, and the benefits of resetting. As stated above, Crossfit seems to be the only major sporting event where touch and go is allowed. Something that Joan struggled with in her training for a short time before her first Strongwoman show was resetting the bar on the ground and waiting for the "UP" command. If you train solely bouncing your deadlifts and expect to do that at a Strongman show, you're gonna have a bad time. In addition to this, if you train in a gym that has thick rubber floors (allowing for a greater rebound) and then compete in a facility that has metal floors, you're gonna have a worse time. I have seen some "5RM" deadlift sets where the "max" weight is being rebounded nearly to knee height. C'mon, folks.
I don't know about you, but I would hardly call that a max DEADlift. Much like how I think Crossfit should stop calling them "pullups"and start calling them "chin-over-bar" (How much pulling are you doing on kipping or butterfly pullups, really?), I think it should be clarified when people hit rep max if they are bouncing or not. When I program for folks, I always write deadlift with resetting in my mind. If I see in their weekly training videos that they are bouncing deadlifts, they receive a paddling. We are trying to build the strength off the floor, not to see how many half-reps we can do. There will be some who offer pseudo-science that bouncing deadlifts works on the lockout portion. I say BS. Even if it does help the lockout, you are weakening your pull from the floor. Instead, train reset deadlifts from the floor, and do block or rack pulls from just below the knee on a separate day.
In summary, bouncing deadlifts is an easy way to say that you got a high number of reps, and will also give you some hypertrophic benefits. However, most strength sports do not allow bouncing in any form. Bouncing can also weaken your pull from the floor if you are doing a Strongman show, as you are not used to high rep dead pulls off the ground. Save your bouncing deadlifts for special occasions, and instead pull dead weight every time. If grip is your reason for bouncing, try farmer walks, static holds on a pullup bar, stone loading, etc. Bouncing can teach you to move your body in improper ways. The only injury I have ever had (besides my wrists, birth defect) was from high-rep deadlifts in Crossfit.
DEADlifts = MOAR SKRONG