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Gym Shorts: The Deficit Deadlift

New to the deficit deadlift or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

How to Deficit Deadlift

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps:

  • Deficit: start with 1-2.5″
  • Set up
    • Narrow stance with shins 1″ from bar
    • Grab the bar outside your shins
    • Push your knees forward & out until your shins touch the bar
    • Squeeze your chest up to get a flat back
    • Short pause then initiate the pull by pushing the floor away
    • Drag the bar up your legs
  • Top
    • Stand tall with hips & knees fully extended
  • Reset
    • Breathe at the bottom
    • Reset your back between reps

The deficit deadlift is a deadlift supplemental lift that increases stress by trading intensity–or weight on the bar–for an increased range of motion. It’s a great addition to your program, and can help pull your deadlift to new levels.

We often add this lift for intermediates on a 4-day split who need additional deadlift stress and changing exercise selection can help. Although this deadlift variant stress volume through increased range of motion, it can be a helpful lift to include leading up to peaking, as having to set up in a more difficult position will make the set up and initial pull off the floor easier for the normal deadlift (without the deficit).

We tend to complete similar reps & sets for these as for normal deadlifts, so usually 5 or below reps. They can, however, be used for higher reps when you’re during a volume or hypertrophy block. They also can be decreased to heavy singles, doubles, and triples to help peak and make that initial pull off the floor feel easier when you move to conventional deadlifts.

One mistake people make with these is they find too large of a deficit, which makes this less specific and thus less helpful to increasing your deadlift strength. Don’t use a deficit much greater than 2 inches, as a little deficit goes a long way. When you find what you believe to be the appropriate deficit, we recommend actually measuring it to ensure it’s not too high.

Just like with a stiff leg or straight leg deadlift, many people will find it difficult to set their lumbar spine. This may make another time under tension variant–like a paused deadlift–preferred over this variant.

Click HERE to watch a longer deficit deadlift tutorial, and HERE to learn about the different deadlift tracks.

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