Deadlifts are a prime mass-building exercise...no doubt about it! But if you’ve been doing them awhile, it might be time to try a few different training techniques to start a whole new growth spurt... These will definitely kick your butt!
One of my favorite techniques for deadlifts is also one of the most grueling (surprise!). It's called Continuous Tension Deadlifting - you may have encountered it or tried it before but now's a great time to revisit it! If you want to build overall body mass (and most specifically back mass), this version of the deadlift is a great one.
It's simple...you do a set of deadlifts without EVER touching the barbell plates back onto the ground. I first used this one quite a few years ago out of necessity - I almost got evicted from a gym I was training at in Ft. Lauderdale that was located on the second floor of a building! When I was setting the weights down, the owner was worried I was going to put the barbell through the floor!
So rather than give up on deadlifting while training there, I decided to just not set the bar down until I was done with each set (and set it down very softly at the end of the set). The owner let me do THAT at least!
It's not a NEW exercise, per se, but it IS a great training technique that can really help you mass up your whole body. Just be VERY tight with your form at the bottom of the reps.
You start like a regular deadlift, pulling the bar from the ground to the top. But as you come down, instead of setting the barbell back down on the ground, you instead reverse the direction just before the plates touch and come back up.
Your body gets NO break at the bottom, as you normally do in a deadlift where you set the bar down. This keeps HUGE tension on the entire body. It's just brutal, especially on the change of direction. You have to not only stop the downward momentum of the bar, you have to reverse it and bring it back up again!
This not only keeps great tension on the body but builds excellent strength off the bottom. Just overcoming gravity isn't nearly as hard as reversing AND overcoming it again in one movement! When you're coming down to the bottom of the movement and reversing direction, hold your breath very briefly to stabilize the core more strongly. The moment you reverse direction successfully, breathe out again (through pursed lips, to maintain that core stability). When you do this exercise, reduce the weight you would normally use. The continuous tension is an eye-opener!
If just the very NAME of this one doesn't make you both dread it and get excited about it at the same time... High-rep deadlifts are a GREAT way to send your metabolism through the roof. Sometimes, when I'm feeling energetic, I'll just pop 225 lbs on the bar and rep out with as many reps as I can get. I've hit as high as 40 reps with it.
This is a basic straight-up deadlift done for as many reps as you can. For me, this weight is about 40% of my 1 RM. You can pick anything that's around 40 to 50% and you should be able to hit a good number of reps with it.
If you've always stuck to lower rep ranges in the deadlift, this one will be an eye-opener for you. Keep a fairly brisk pace. I found for much of the set, I wasn't even setting the bar down in between reps but just grazing the floor and coming right back up.
Now just crank out as many as possible. Towards the end, I stop for a few seconds to try and catch a little breath but that only gets me a couple of more reps.
If you like deadlifts and are comfortable with them, give this a try. It's not so comfortable by the time you're done... One set of these is all you need - don't save ANYTHING in this set...you're not going to be doing any more high-rep deadlifts sets after so you've got no reason to hold back.
Just be tight with form from start to finish - don't let it get sloppy - reps with bad form don't count.
Basically, you're going to take a weight that allows you to get about 4 to 6 reps on the Stiff Legged Deadlift. Then you're going to do those reps on the SLDL (stiff legged deadlift). Then you will IMMEDIATELY continue with the same weight on regular deadlifts.
Just keeping until you've had enough. If you like a challenge, you'll love this one!
One quick note with the Stiff Legged Deadlifts, I recommend you set the bar down on the floor in between reps. This is much better on the back when you're using heavier weights because it allows you to reset your spine and the support muscles of the core with each rep. If you've never tried that before, you'll notice a BIG difference. When you keep the bar off the ground, you can't reset and it'll gradually fatigue your supports muscles and round out your lower back.
Works WAY better with heaver weight with no deleterious effects on hamstring stimulation.
So get between 4 and 6 reps on the SLDL. Then immediately pick it up with regular deadlifts:
So finish with as many deadlifts as you can get (keep the do-or-die rep in you, though). This combo is tough enough on its own!
Written by Nick Nilsson