If you have been reading this site for a while then you know that I have a crazy obsession for the overhead press, but what I want you guys to also know is that I am also very interested in the deadlift. The deadlift slaps slabs of mass to the whole backside of your body and if you are a good deadlifter then chacnes are that you are just a strong person in general because you can’t be weak and pull 600lb from the floor for the most part.
Also improving your deadlift will also improve your rows, olympic lifts and it just looks badass! A strong deadlift is like a badge of honor and its one of those lifts that you either get or you don’t. A lot of people half rep their squats, rows, bench and push on their shoulder presses when they aren’t supposed to, but the deadlift is one of those lifts that are respected across the board. You could get a ton out of a squat or bench suit too, but in the deadlift it won’t help you that much.
The deadlift really is the king of full body exercises in my opinion, but the problem with most people is that they are really weak off of the floor! I too was very weak on the floor at one point. If I was able to get it past the middle of my shins then I would be able to complete the rep, but a lot of the times I just couldn’t budge it!
Thats when I started researching and talking to powerlifters (which you could see some of the Q&As on my site in the interview section) and I was also just experimenting with different things for periods of time.
Below I listed 10 reasons as to why you might be weak off of the floor. I know that there are many more reasons than this, but these are some of the most obvious and general reasons in my opinion.
1. THE WEIGHT IS REALLY JUST TOO HEAVY IN THE FIRST PLACE TO BEGIN WITH
First things first, in some cases the weight is literally just too heavy! If you can’t even budge the bar an inch from the floor after getting super psyched up then chances are that you need to just put your ego to the door and reduce the weights you are using. For example, if you are really grinding extremely hard and rounding your back with 495lb then what in the world makes you think that you could hit 545lb?
2. YOU AREN’T PUSHING YOUR HEELS INTO THE FLOOR AT THE BEGINNING
One very important cue that people don’t take into consideration is the deadlift should be thought of as a push in the sense that the first part of the lift is like a vertical leg press because of the fact that you want to be driving your heels into the floor as fast and hard as possible in order to generate speed. The same thing can be said about the bench press, you want to imagine that you are pushing your upper back into the ground as opposed to just pushing weight up. Is this cue going to create miracles and make you a good puller overnight? Of course not, but its just another tip in the bag that should be used.
3. YOU RARELY PULL OFF THE FLOOR ON ANY OTHER LIFTS
If you are always doing yates rows, high rack pulls and other partial rows of that nature where you aren’t starting from the floor then that could limit your pulling numbers from the floor. If you want to get good at something then you have to do it often so in this case if you want to get good at pulling heavy weights from the floor then you need to do more Pendlay rows, sumo deadlifts, deficit pulls, power cleans from the floor and stuff of that nature.
4. YOU AREN’T GOING LOW ENOUGH ON YOUR RDL’S
I have been VERY guilty of this in the past because I used to go slightly below my knees on RDL’s and although it allowed me to use some super heavy weights, I noticed that I wasn’t able to pull heavy weights off the floor! This is why when you do your RDL’s or Stiff leg pulls you want to make sure that you are going lower because the lower you go then the more carryover you will have for your deadlift.
The RDL is NOT and should not be an ego lift so make sure that you do it with proper form and go all the way down. Some lifters like to go so low that the plates touch the floor and that is fine too, but I personally go low until the plates are about 1-2 inches from the floor so that I could keep constant tension on the hamstrings.
5. YOU AREN’T IMPLEMENTING ANY FORMS OF DEFICIT PULLS IN YOUR PROGRAMMING
Deficit pulls are great to have in your exercise rotation because they get you used to pulling from a higher height which makes it a lot harder, but when you get back to pulling from the floor you will feel like the bar goes up a lot faster. One of the things that I notice with some pullers is they will barely even be pulling from a high deficit for a long period of time. When you pull off of a deficit it isn’t like a 1-2 week thing, you should always keep some form of deficit pulls in your routine in one way shape or form. In other words, you want deficit work to be a regular part of your programming, you want to get used to pulling in that higher and harder position. The same thing could be said about doing your curls and presses with a fat handle because the harder you could make your assistance work then the more carryover and benefits you will get when you go back to the original lift.
Also deficit work doesn’t have to be used as assistance work because a lot of lifters make deficit pulls their main lift for certain periods of time and that could certainly be done as well. Remember that high exercise selection is key and if your deficit pulls are going up then your conventional deadlift will go up guaranteed.
Snatch grip deadlifts from the floor are also another awesome variation by the way in case if you are interested.
6. YOU AREN’T INCORPORATING FRONT SQUATS INTO YOUR PROGRAM
Front squats help build up your core and quads along with your upper back, last thing I checked these are all very important muscles for helping your initial pull off of the floor. As far as the variations are concerned, you could do Front Box Squats, Paused Front Squats or just the regular Front Squat. Also if you go below parallel on front squats with some respectable weight then it will be teaching your body to stay tight and upright in a low position which is exactly what you need when pulling weight off of the floor!
7. YOU AREN’T TAKING THE SLACK OUT OF THE BAR
One of the biggest mistakes that especially beginners will make when the bar barely budges is that they won’t pull the slack out of the bar. If you aren’t pulling the slack out and you are about to pull a max then the weight will feel A LOT hard then it is supposed to because you will be making the lift harder for yourself. Pulling the slack out is one of the most beneficial things that you could do for your lift because it doesn’t take a ton of energy to do so but it goes a long way. So if you are pulling 500lb off of the floor but you aren’t pulling the slack out then don’t be surprised if the weight feels like 515lb or something. Although if you pull the slack out then 500lb will really feel like 500lb or in some cases it may even feel a bit lighter which is exactly what you want.
8. YOU AREN’T PRACTICING WITH REPS, YOU ARE ONLY DOING 1RM’s
Another important factor that a lot of people don’t think of is that you need to start practicing with reps as opposed to always trying to go for a 1RM. For example, if you want to get good at something then you want to make sure that you are doing it often so if you are only doing 1 top end set of 1 repetition on deadlifts once per week then that only adds up to 4 reps per month which is nothing for the most part. My recommendation is that you start doing sets of 3 and also sets of 5 as opposed to only and always doing sets of 1. You are doing this because you want to practice more and more with heavier weights. Also if you are doing a set of 5 but you failed on the last rep then at least you still got 4 good reps in, but if you only do 1RM’s and you are missing them all of the time then how are you really going to progress?
Also on your assistance work such as RDLs and lifts of that nature you could go for higher reps such as 6-12 or even higher if that suits your needs.
So there you have it, 8 reasons why you are weak off of the floor. There are MANY more reasons and I am very aware of that, but these 8 were the first to come to my head so I hope you enjoyed the list and hopefully you learned something. If there are any key tips that I didn’t mention then I would love to know your feedback in the comment section below.