Powerlifting

Deadlift Variations | How, Why & When To Use Them


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There are tons of different exercise variations out there being touted as a fix to this weak point or the best exercise to improve such and such. Here is a simple guide to help you understand how to do some of these more important variations, why you would perform them and when they’re best to include in your training.


Block Pull

Technique Points

-Typically, blocks from 1-4” are appropriate depending on your height (taller lifter = taller blocks).

-Focus on initiating the lockout as soon as the bar begins moving off the blocks, use your glutes to drive your hips forward to meet the bar at lockout.

Why To Do It

-To improve lockout strength by overloading the back and limiting the ability to generate leg drive from the floor.

-To manage fatigue by reducing range of motion and often for conventional deadlifters by limiting the weight can be used.

-As a rehab tool to limit ROM and create a controlled progression of ROM for an athlete returning from a back injury

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. These are a great option during Hypertrophy because they lend themselves to higher volume because of the reduced ROM

-Strength. During this phase, Block Pulls will be useful as a secondary movement to address a weak point at lockout or to add extra deadlift volume at slightly lower fatigue cost.

-Peaking. For Sumo pullers, the Block Pull can serve as a mechanical overload tool, exposing them to heavier weights to drive neural adaptation during peaking. For Conventional pullers, using Block Pulls is a way to manage fatigue during Peaking through the shortened ROM.


Box Deadlift/Vert Pull

Technique Points

-Actively smash your calves against the box/bench/bar to ensure a vertical or even slightly negative shin angle throughout the movement

-Move with intent and control, in this exercise, slower is often better and will help you get more out of less weight

Why To Do It

-While similar to an RDL, the tactile cue of the objects against your calves will help ensure very strict technique

-This is an excellent builder of hamstring strength that will help build all phases of the deadlift, particularly the midrange.

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. This could serve as a primary exercise during a Hypertrophy Phase, particularly for those who are weak in the midrange of the deadlift.

-Strength and Peaking. This would be a good secondary movement to compliment the deadlift for those struggling with midrange strength.


Deficit Deadlift

Technique Points

-Typically a ½ to 1 ½” deficit is significant, larger than that may change your start position too significantly for high transfer.

Why To Do It

-To improve strength off the floor

-To increase ROM for greater hypertrophy

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. Deficit Deadlift can be used as a primary movement during hypertrophy

-Strength & Peaking. Deficit Deadlift is a good secondary movement during these phases to compliment your primary deadlifts if you are struggling with a weak point right off the floor.


Good Mornings

Technique Points

-Actively push your knees back to maintain a vertical shin angle throughout the movement and feel great tension through your hamstrings.

-Move with intent and control, in this exercise, slower is often better and will help you get more out of less weight

-Various Barbells (straight, cambered, SSB) can be an effective tool for Good Mornings

Why To Do It

-This is an excellent builder of hamstring and low back strength that will help build all phases of the deadlift, particularly the midrange and lockout.

-Utilizing a staggered stance can help maintain hip/low back health through heavy training

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. This could serve as a primary exercise during a Hypertrophy Phase, particularly for those who are weak in the lockout of the deadlift or have a relatively weak back compared to their legs that is holding back the squat

-Strength and Peaking. This would be a good secondary movement to compliment the deadlift for those struggling with lockout strength


Halting Deadlift

Technique Points

-Start the lift at the same tempo you normally would in a full lift and have a slight pause when the bar reaches the bottom of your knees, before returning it to the floor under control and then performing a full rep to lockout.

-Move the bar with intent and control. Slightly pausing below the knees and lowering the bar with control will make this variation significantly more challenging to do but also more effective.

Why To Do It

-To improve strength and technique off the floor through extended reps and time under tension in this phase of the lift.

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. If using Halting Deadlifts during Hypertrophy, you’ll likely want to use slightly lower reps than you would on other deadlift variations, ie. sets of 6 instead of sets of 8.

-Strength & Peaking. Halting Deadlift is a good secondary movement during these phases to compliment your primary deadlifts if you are struggling with specific weak point off the floor.


Pause Deadlift

Technique Points

-Pause(s) can be performed at any point during the lift. Adding a pause ½-1” below your weak point can help address it through increased time under tension in that position.

-Make sure you are accelerating to the point of the pause, have a hard pause for 1-2 seconds and then accelerate again through the lockout of the lift.

Why To Do It

-To address a specific weak point off the floor, below the knees or slightly above the knees, depending on where the pause is performed.

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. Pause Deadlift can be used as a primary movement during hypertrophy

-Strength & Peaking. Pause Deadlift is a good secondary movement during these phases to compliment your primary deadlifts if you are struggling with a specific weak point.


RDL

Technique Points

-Actively push your knees back to maintain a vertical shin angle throughout the movement and feel great tension through your hamstrings. -Move with intent and control, in this exercise, slower is often better and will help you get more out of less weight

-Dumbbells or Barbell can be an effective tool for RDLs

Why To Do It

-This is an excellent builder of hamstring strength that will help build all phases of the deadlift, particularly the midrange.

-Utilizing a staggered stance can help maintain hip/low back health through heavy training

When To Do It

-Hypertrophy. This could serve as a primary exercise during a Hypertrophy Phase, particularly for those who are weak in the midrange of the deadlift.

-Strength and Peaking. This would be a good secondary movement to compliment the deadlift for those struggling with midrange strength

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