Deadlift Reps–Touch N’Go

by: Josh Bryant

Josh training deadlifts at Metroflex Gym

Hey Josh, thanks for explaining the importance for beginner and intermediate powerlifters dead stopping deadlifts.  I see a lot of champion bodybuilders and powerlifters touch and go deadlifts, what gives?

Timing is everything! Like King Solomon said thousands of years ago, there is a time and place for everything under the sun, whether  it is taking on all comers in Turkish Oil Wrestling at an Istanbul dive bar  after  a little too much  Rika, dumpster diving  or even touch n’ go deadlifts–this holds true.First, let’s differentiate between bounced reps, which I covered last week, and touch-and-go reps.  Bounced deadlift reps are where the lifter purposefully uses excessive momentum to aid in the lift via bouncing the barbell off the floor.  Touch-and-go reps means the lifter has control of the weight and she only touches the floor with the weights but the full weight of the barbell is not unloaded on the floor before she begins the next rep.For advanced lifters with great technique, the following four benefits can be derived from touch-and-go deadlifts.HypertrophyTouch-and-go reps force a controlled eccentric phase, amortization phase then finally concentric phase.  This seemingly continuous tension puts you under tension for longer contrasted to dead stop reps.  This increased time under tension is a catalyst for muscle growth so you will look better on the bodybuilding stage, the Chippenddales stage or any stage!Grip StrengthIf you do five reps in the deadlift and reset your grip each time, it is not nearly as difficult to grip as five reps where you are forced to control the eccentric and maintain a solid grip the entire time; lose the grip lose the lift. Think about the time under tension. Do a max-effort deadlift for three seconds with 600 pounds; it will not build your grip to the extent as a set at 450 for eight reps that takes 30 seconds to complete.Stretch Shortening CycleSince the early 1980s, my mentor, the late Dr. Fred Hatfield, wrote about the benefits of touch-and-go deadlifts.  The main one cited was the introduction of the stretch shortening cycle (SSC), this refers to

the ‘pre-stretch’ or ‘counter movement’ observed before human movements like jumping.  This pre-stretch allows you to produce more force faster.  The deadlift is dead weight but the second rep and beyond introduce an eccentric phase that essentially allows you to spring load and produce more force. For the technically-sound advanced lifter, this learned explosiveness can certainly transfer to a one-rep max or dead stop reps.

Staying Tight

Some lifters have the issue of losing tightness as they reset at the beginning of dead stop deadlifts, this is often a manifestation of relaxing on the eccentric phase.  There is no relaxation on the eccentric phase of and touch-and-go deadlift. In fact, touch-and-go deadlifts force you to stay tight throughout the entire movement! Any loss of tightness is a leakage of tension that should be placed on the barbell.  Touch-and-go deadlifts force you to stay tight.

Author, Josh Bryant, shows the differences between dead stop and touch-and-go reps.

Final Thoughts 

Ed Coan, in preparing to set deadlift world records, used a successive dead stop style deadlift as each rep is dead stopped in the starting position.  Tension is never released and after momentum is halted successive reps are pulled.  Deadlifting icon Steve Johnson does a brief reset between each dead stop rep he pulls in training.  Benedict Magnusson, touch-and-goes his reps.

Advanced lifters with great technique can derive benefits from touch-and-go reps in the deadlift.  Keep in mind the desired training effect should be the driving force behind what type of deadlifts they use, not the ego. 

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