2 New Favorite Deadlift Variations

I love the deadlift; it’s one of my favorite lifts ever.  In almost all variations, when it’s appropriate, the deadlift is awesome.  For every low-fat trenta macchiatto hot yoga class, there’s a fine warrior out there in the eye of a clanging plate and chalk hurricane, waging war on low testosterone and high insulin.  So, the ‘beetus.

But, brethren of the barbell, I have a confession to make.  I haven’t been pullin’ all that much.  When I finally admitted this to myself, I had the same reaction that you’re probably having right now.  Shame on you, Harold.


It’s not that I don’t want to deadlift; I do! It’s just that I went a wee-bit too long training for a meet without deloads, and not deloading afterwards.  “Deloading” usually has the connotation of reducing training volume or intensity (by %).  I did that.  What I didn’t do was deload a specific movement, and what anyone who has ever deadlift with a sumo stance will tell you, is that it beats you up.  So, I stopped sumo deadlifting (at least for the time being) so that I can avoid this:


Before we get it twisted, don’t think that I haven’t been picking anything up off of the floor, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.  See, while I’m letting my sumo deadlift go into hibernation for the time being, that’s opened me up to other deadlift variations, and I believe that sharing is caring.

 Enter the paused deadlift.

I first heard about the paused deadlift last year when I spotted a video of Michael Keck performing them.  Here’s that video:

I wouldn’t count that as really seeing them, because I thought nothing of it; I didn’t actually lift then.  Once I began delving into the land of powerlifting, my man Tony Bonvechio first turned me on to these.  We’ve spoken about the merits of the paused lift, and he’s converted me.  The experimentation continues, but I’ve been using these on dynamic effort and repetition effort deadlift days:

For somebody like me with a weaker posterior chain, it behooves progress to include additional demands on the posterior chain.  I feel more comfortable with a sumo deadlift, but need to bring up my regular deadlift to pull more weight.  In addition to the paused deadlift, I’m also building a badder backside emphasizing the eccentric component of my trap bar deadlift.  Here’s an example:

This variation is full of suck.  Muscles are stronger with eccentric actions than concentric actions, so using a traditional pull with a stiff-legged/Romanian lowering phase allows you to overload the posterior chain more than you’d otherwise be able to.  You’ll lift, or really lower, more weight than you would have otherwise.  You can use this variation across all sets, or through your warm-up sets to practice a better hip hinge.  Either way, you’re bound to have a good time.

These two variations have made their way into my last few weeks of training each week, and I’m loving them.  They’re helping to make my posterior chain stronger as I plan my triumphant return to the land of sumo deadlifting.  Until then, we shall pause and lower like a boss.  I call on you to do the same.

3 Replies to “2 New Favorite Deadlift Variations”

  1. I’ve never seen either of these two variations before! I can tell just by looking at them how tough they’ll be. I love all things deadlift so I can’t wait to give it a shot!

    1. Tara, give them a try and let me know what you think!

      I’ve used the Trap Bar RDL with clients in a corrective setting, but haven’t used the paused deadlift for them; just for a strength development standpoint. I’d be interested in getting your feedback on it though!

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