Blast Through Deadlift Sticking Points

Strongman Brian Shaw's tips to break through deadlift plateaus.

I am frequently asked about how to break through deadlift plateaus. For some, that means breaking the bar off the ground at the start, while for others it’s through the midrange of the lift. Then there are those guys who struggle with locking out at the top. Here are some moves to help your deadlift.


Stay tight as you begin the movement to avoid losing power. Also, if your flexibility is bad it may be preventing you from getting down into the optimal position. This is why stretching is critical—even for strongmen and powerlifters. Flexibility in the hips, glutes, and hamstrings will allow you to sit lower, thereby getting a better center of gravity at the start.

1) Seated Box Jump 

Start in a seated position on a bench and place a box on the floor in front of you. In one explosive movement, launch out of the seated position and jump up onto the box in front of you. Repeat.

2) Deficit Deadlift 

Performing deadlifts while standing on a couple of mats or boards increases the distance that you have to pull the weight. Use lighter weights on all sets.

3) Accommodating Resistance

Attaching bands or chains to the bar will teach you to pull harder and help build power of the floor.


The best way to pull an elevated deadlift is by using pulling blocks or pulling the bar off a stack of rubber mats. It’s also very beneficial to add chains or bands.


It’s always terrible to fail when you’re a matter of inches from completing the lift. Most likely your upper back is the weak link. Try these movements for stronger lockouts:

1) Bentover Row

Rotate between using a barbell and dumbbells. Make sure when you do this exercise that you pull the weight to your upper abdomen to build upper-back strength where you need it.

2) Shrug

Going heavy when you shrug can translate to bigger traps and improvements with your deadlift. Rotate between using barbells, dumbbells, or shrugs with a frame or farmer’s walk implement.


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