The deadlift is one of the best exercises for building overall strength, power, and athleticism. And this is why it’s a staple in a variety of strength training programs, and will continue to be used to accommodate multiple athletic goals.
When it comes to performing deadlifts for reps, there are often two methods of doing so: Stop and reset reps or touch-and-go (bounced) reps. Both training methods will be employed in different settings, and often times the rationale behind doing so will vary pretty greatly between coaches and athletes. Outside of personal anecdotes and experience, little research has been done on the differences between the two.
A study published earlier this year sought out to find the biomechanical differences between dead-stop and bounced conventional deadlift reps.
Subjects and Goals
Researchers included twenty physically healthy males who were required to have at least one-year deadlift experience, and have the ability to complete at least a 62kg deadlift for one-rep. The researchers’ goals were to analyze the differences between each deadlift’s stimulus by looking at joint kinetics and total work, along with average vertical ground reaction force and impulse.
[Let’s not forget the 10 commandments of deadlift day. Thou shalt deadlift!]
Researchers had the twenty subjects come in for two lifting sessions. The first session, entailed the volunteers finding their 1-RM, which was found using the NSCA’s 1-RM protocol. Subjects were not allowed to wear shoes, straps, or belts. Once subjects found their 1-RM, they were familiarized with both deadlift techniques: Bounced and Dead stop. They were then instructed to wait four days until coming into their second lifting session.
On the second session, the volunteers came back to the lab and performed the same warm-up, then prepared for the two deadlift variations. For the experiment, volunteers completes two sets of five reps with each deadlift variant with 75% of their 1-RM found in the previous session.
[Need a few form critiques and advice? Check out our Ultimate Deadlift Guide!]
Suggestions and Findings
Upon completion of the two lifting sessions, researchers found that both lifting styles had a few key differences. Some of these differences will probably come as common sense to many, but it’s beneficial seeing the data to back up personal rationale. Below are four of the bigger differences I took away from the research and the suggestions provided.
- The peak net joint moment impulse (NJMI) was greater in the dead stop deadlift compared to the bounced deadlift. This would suggest that deadlifting with a dead stop in-between each rep is a better means for training power, as it requires more work to move the weight in the initial pull.
- The average vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) was higher in the bounced deadlift, aka the joint’s exerted more force throughout the entire set of bounced compared to dead stop. Researchers suggested this could have been due to the “catching” portion increasing the vGRF when the barbell struck the floor and the next rep was initiated.
- The posterior chain may be more at risk of injury during the bounced deadlift. This point is already somewhat talked about in the strength and conditioning community, but this research supports the potential for injury theory. Injuries could be more prevalent due to the lack of muscle tension during the vertical bounce portion of the deadlift. This is the point where a lifter loosens, then reapplies force to lift the barbell.
- Bounced deadlifts could be more beneficial for shorter lifters compared to taller athletes due to bounce height decreasing. This would allow a lifter to maintain safe mechanics, while achieving a higher cumulative vGRF.
This study was interesting because it looked at one single deadlift variant, as opposed to multiple at once, which can dilute the overall applicable suggestions.
Obviously, there needs to be more research performed on the topic before definitively saying what’s best and why, but the suggestions they’ve made are useful for coaches and athletes trying facilitate a certain training adaptation.
Related: Romanian Deadlift Form Guide
Feature image from @marisainda Instagram page.