Congratulations. You've chosen strength and health. You've won already. Our passion is to help you get there through knowledge and ideas accumulated on health, strength and fitness over a vast experience. Have fun!

To Reset or Not To Reset Between Deadlift Reps

An orchestrated clang, then a thud, then me standing up getting a breather, followed by another clang of the plates rising from the ground, thud of their being dropped on ground and me standing tall between reps soaking in as much air as my diaphragm allowed before the mechanical cacophony kept on as an invigorating exercise.

As I performed the deadlift with a reset between reps, I could almost see everyone around me in that open air gym including the trainer look at me questionably with slanted eyes.

Very obviously, they needed answers.

"Rahul, I thought you knew how to deadlift..."

"Isn't the bar supposed to never leave your hands until the set is done?"

"Hey dude, you are never going to get the guns like this."

Well, suffice to say, the growing body of  concern that day surrounding my deadlift technique that can be uncommon in today's gym culture needed to be addressed.

We have two approaches to execution of heavy deadlifts.

The continuous Deadlift Set: Or where the bar is never let go of.

Something that looks like this:

  • Good For Metabolic Work, done with relatively lesser poundage
  • Great For Building and challenging the grip
  • Better suited to straight legged deadlift variations than the reset option which shall be discussed in a while
  • Great as a warm drill to get the blood flowing and the joints and connective tissue activated, of course when done with lighter weights
  • Great as a part of a Barbell Complex or any other hypertrophy scheme where the time under continuous tension is the utilized factor for progress.
  • Better when building mass is way more important than building absolute strength. More suited to a bodybuilding approach than a powerlifting meet prep
However, a key drawback to using time under continuous tension with the deadlift is the fact how much before your big boy muscles from the back and legs even feel the first signs of discomfort, your ancillary muscles like the grip and even the spinal erectors may make a bad face asking for rest. The result is a near crappy spinal arch on almost every next rep after the third or fourth one, on especially heavy weights.

Enter the Reset Deadlift

The reset deadlift is like a series of singles done in a very compact fashion. The lifter performs a tight and tense deadift rep, then when the rep completes, the bar is parked by the feet and the lifter then stands and takes a deep breath. And without wasting another moment, goes down in as crisp a form as on the first rep and performs a rep again.

There are a lot of benefits that don't meet the eye on this deceptively simple looking change:

  • Every rep starts from a dead stop. This means there is no room for momentum from the first rep to contribute to the subsequent ones
  • Every rep starts from a clean starting position. No more sloppy form and excessively bent backs on the upcoming reps. Can't tell you how much this has saved my back form accidentally breaking down or losing tension on the final reps of a set when it is under tremendous fatigue
  • A higher amount of force is required to move a stationary weight than to impart movement to an already moving weight. Dead stop reps resetting between reps, when done for sufficient volume can be really metabolically demanding
  • You can actually lift more weight this way. 
  • Every rep can have you produce as much tension as you can. Total body tension is a very important premise to get super-strong. When you are standing between the reps, you gather all the neural drive you have to generate irradiating tension from your feet all the way to your neck
  • I initially thought that letting go of the bar would not be a big deal for training the grip. On the contrary, I found the act of unloading and then re-gripping a very heavy barbell while deadlifting, again and again to be an altogether new form of challenge for the hands. It also allows for complete wrapping and resetting of the hands around the bar, allowing for a better application of the force to the barbell, instead of a marginal leakage of the force as what happens while you are fighting to keep your pinky fingers still have the bar on them before it rolls off on the 10th rep. My hands felt tougher doing the reset deadlift reps from dead stops for huge volume.
  • Reset deadlifts are a great choice to include in high volume deadlift programs. Again, the absence of potential risk for form damage and injury are key.
This doesn't mean you should quit the continuous deadlifting and acquire reset deadlifts completely. Like most strategies to get stronger, this one has a time and place as I highlighted. However, it would not be a bad idea to always deadlift while resettting between reps in order to deadlift injury-free and pain-free for the rest of your career.

Give them a shot. And let me know how they worked for you.