Wasted Energy: Deadlifts

Continuing my Wasted Energy series, today’s short and sweet article will focus on wasted energy for sets of multiple-rep deadlifts, and how you can better approach them, so as to put all your energy into your lifts, rather than wasting them on superfluous movements.

Something I always like to tell my clients, at various levels, is to think about how you can make your sets of deadlifts faster, easier, and more powerful. The easiest way for us to do that, once I have made sure that their technique is adequate, is to spend less time in between reps. In my experience, I have found that when an athlete spends too much time in between reps, they not only lose the stretch reflex, they basically make each rep as difficult as the first rep. Instead of taking a few seconds in between reps, I have found that it is much better and more efficient to spend minimal time in between pulls, while still making sure that you aren’t bouncing the bar off the floor. For example: let’s say that you have to hit a set of deadlifts for five reps. Taking a few seconds in between each rep will cause you to lose your stretch reflex, as well as allowing you to think (sometimes too much, which is debilitating for some athletes) about how difficult it is. Whereas, as you will see in the video below, taking minimal time in between reps, as well as using a bit of a dynamic start with the hips, should make the reps easier as they go on. Meaning, rep one should be difficult, reps two, three and four should be easier than rep one, and rep five should be somewhat difficult as well. Check the video below for an example:

You should be able to see a clear difference in rep speed between the first and second video. In the first video, I bring the bar down, reset my hips and hands, and pull again. At least for me and my athletes, taking that much time in between reps not only gives them time to think “wow that was heavy, I hope I can do the rest”, they also lose a bit of the stretch reflex in their posterior, making each rep as hard as the first.

In the second video, you should be able to clearly see a much more dynamic start on my deadlift reps. What I like to think about after rep one, is dropping the bar, quickly bring my hips up, and as I bring them back down, I quickly pull on the bar. Reps two and three were much faster than rep one, and it felt like I was pulling on an empty bar.

Now, this is a skill that needs to be developed over time. You probably won’t be able to do as dramatic of a dynamic start when you are working in the 85-90%+ range, but still somewhat doable. This technique will come in handy when you are working with higher rep ranges, in the 70-85% range. Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to focus on keeping your arms as straight as possible, and try to avoid “jerking” the bar off the ground, which can cause your position to change halfway through the lift, and can cause your back to round too much.

If your body is able, I highly recommend working on a more dynamic start in between your deadlift reps. This will allow to hit heavier reps more consistently throughout your sets, which will in turn help you get stronger. If you want some more great examples of dynamic starts for sumo deadlifts, I highly recommend watching the training videos of Matt Falk and Matt Mills: they are shining examples of what a dynamic start should look like. Good luck, and let me know how it works for you.

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