Author: Nick Jacobs (pictured above)

 

Isometric Deadlifts

  • Isometric muscle contraction is completely different than concentric and eccentric contractions because of one simple fact… muscle fibers are neither shortening nor lengthening. During an isometric contraction, the muscle tissue is contracting at near maximum ability, but remains at the same length throughout the duration of the movement. Think of flexing a muscle as hard as you can, such as a bodybuilding pose. Isometric deadlifts can be very useful for addressing ‘weak points’ in your deadlift and also when trying to force ‘overload’ to promote strength gains.
  • It’s very important to set up the pins, straps, or whatever is stopping the barbell at your individual sticking point of the deadlift. For example, if you struggle at the top end of a deadlift, place the pins between the knees and hips so the barbell is stopped close to your sticking point.
  • While not necessary, it also helps to load the barbell with at least 30% of your 1RM. If you don’t add weight to the barbell, you won’t be performing the movement in the same fashion as a typical deadlift. Bar path will be much different, leg drive won’t be utilized as in normal deadlifts, and you’ll find yourself using your back muscles as the primary mover for the lift.
  • Here is Trey Mitchell III performing rather aggressive isometric deadlifts. Trey is a pro level strongman competitor, so he can handle a much higher workload than the majority of lifters. I highly recommend you ensure the rack is bolted to the ground, and that you start this movement slow and allow plenty of room for progression.

 

Aggressive! I love it when people tag me saying they decided to try isometric deadlifts when they saw me post it myself but it irritates me when they ain’t doing them right. It’s not deadlifting it and touching the bar to the pins and back down, it’s not holding the bar on the pins for a couple seconds. You’re supposed to treat the bar like your F-ing enemy and you’re gonna rip off their head and try flipping the rack. If the rack isn’t heavy enough or anchored to the ground it’s going to lift up if it’s done correctly. The iso deadlift is a max effort lift to help teach yourself to grind through the the sticking point on your deadlift. #berserkerlifter #strongman #startingstrongman #strength #powerlifting #bodybuilding #squats #bench #deadlift #teamSBD @deadlifttillimdead

A post shared by Charles Mitchell III (@berserkerlifter) on

Eccentric Deadlifts

  • Eccentric deadlifts are another movement that allows for deadlifting overload. I’m not sure where I read or heard this, but the concentric contraction of a muscle is capable of only handling 50-80% of what the eccentric contraction of the same muscle is able to handle.  What this essentially means is if you can successfully deadlift 100lbs, then you should be able to successfully lower ~120-150lbs from the lockout position to the starting position of a deadlift. Of course there is an explanation for this occurrence! In order to initiate a concentric contraction, the force of gravity must be overcome in order to move the load, whereas during an eccentric contraction, the individual is succumbing to the force of gravity and is therefore performing less work. Eccentric strength vs concentric strength varies person to person, and this phenomenon is what makes eccentric deadlifting extremely effective for muscular overload.
  • If you don’t have access to a rack with removable pins, grab a couple buddies that can help you lift the loaded barbell off the floor. As with any resistance exercise, be extremely careful and make sure all of you are communicating well enough to avoid any mistakes or injuries.
  • As with isometric deadlifts, I recommend starting on the lighter side, and gradually working towards heavier loads if you choose to incorporate eccentric deadlifts in your training. A good starting point is 5-10% heavier than your 1RM. As you progress, increase the time of the descent towards the floor or push the load on the barbell closer to 115-120% of your 1RM.  
  • Shown here is USAPL lifter Daniel Rushing performing the movement with 515lbs.

NASCAR Deadlifts

  • This variation is easily my favorite for increasing total volume through a session while keeping risk of injury relatively low. The concept for NASCAR deadlifts is as follows:
    • Following deadlift working sets, reduce the load by 20-30%
    • Select a rep range of 2-5 repetitions
    • Select a time period of 10-20sec
    • Select a total number of individual rounds to perform each set

For example, lets say your top end sets for a deadlift session were 3 sets of 5 reps @ 500lbs.

First, reduce the load on the bar to 350-400lbs. Second, choose to perform anywhere between 2-5 reps/round. Third, choose the rest period between each individual round. Last, select how many individual rounds you will perform to complete each set. I typically perform consecutive sets of 3-5 rounds until my form starts to slightly suffer, then I shut it down and move on to additional accessory work. After all, the purpose of this movement is too increase total volume done at sub-maximal loads while preventing injury.

  • In the video below, I am performing 2 repetitions at 465lbs every 10 seconds for a total of 4 individual rounds each set.

Finding variations that work well for each person and drive training progress is one of the most challenging aspects of strength sports. Performing the same movements every training cycle can definitely get you stronger, but that’s not the most efficient, or enjoyable way to train. At Strongman Technique, it is our goal to give you the tools you need to be a more successful and intelligent strength athlete. Give these variations a try and let us know what you think! Did these variations work for you? What variations have you done that proved to be effective? Let us know!

 

@strongmantechnique

@jacobs.strength

 

We also want to thank Trey Mitchell III for such a fantastic example of isometric deadlifts! Check him out at @Berserkerlifter