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Deadlifts - First rep is always very very hard. Any tips?

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  • Deadlifts - First rep is always very very hard. Any tips?

    For both deadlifts and rack deads, the first rep of the set is very hard for me to get up.

    I rack dead 525 x 10 for my 1st set (I do 1 heavy set then 1 lighter set)
    I have the bar right under my knee caps
    back arched
    arms as levers (no bend to em)
    chest up and out
    head looking forward and slightly down (in line with spine)
    I lower the bar like a SLDL and do it slowly, you can barely hear the bar hit the rack when I lower it
    as soon as the barbell hits the rack, I pause maybe .5-1 seconds and go for the next rep

    It's just that 1st rep where it feels super heavy and I think I end up bending my back to get it up therefore getting my lower back too involved


    Same thing for deadlifts


    any tips/help? or is this just part of the territory with em?

    I feel like if I could get my 1st rep off smoother, I could do an extra rep per set cause that 1st rep takes a lot more energy than any other rep in the set

    thanks!

  • #2
    It's normal for the first rep to be the hardest, especially if you use a touch-and-go lifting style. This is because on the first rep your muscles can't use the stretch reflex, and you have no reversal strength from a previous eccentric, to push the weight. This is actually why touch-and-go style deadlifting is useless to powerlifters for training the deadlift. If you start with a lower weight now, reset each rep every time you do these, and build up your strength from there, you'll eventually come back to your 525x10 record, but your first rep will be the easiest now. If you insist on touch-and-go, you'll just have to deal with the first rep being the hardest.

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    • #3
      With some exercises I'll ramp up for a single or double (not a max single or double) at a weight slightly higher than my work sets and then go back down to my working weight and it feels lighter and takes care of the first rep difficulty issues.

      Theoretically, if I were deadlifting 500 for sets of 8, I might do a single or double at 530 in order to make 500 feel lighter, but I don't use this method very often and I never do it with maximal weights.

      And when I don't use that method, I'll always so a single or double with my working weight just to get a good feel of it before going into the work set.
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      • #4
        I echo what Big R said. I used to deadlift touch-and-go style and it got to the point where my 4-6 rep weight was catching my single rep weight b/c I would struggle so bad on the first rep. I started reseting after every rep so now the first rep isn't as bad and my single has increased.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Big R View Post
          It's normal for the first rep to be the hardest, especially if you use a touch-and-go lifting style. This is because on the first rep your muscles can't use the stretch reflex, and you have no reversal strength from a previous eccentric, to push the weight. This is actually why touch-and-go style deadlifting is useless to powerlifters for training the deadlift. If you start with a lower weight now, reset each rep every time you do these, and build up your strength from there, you'll eventually come back to your 525x10 record, but your first rep will be the easiest now. If you insist on touch-and-go, you'll just have to deal with the first rep being the hardest.
          That makes total sense.
          I'm only interested in building the most amount of muscle in the shortest amount of time (strength is nice, but I'd rather have a huge back with 18'' arms).
          Won't reseting at every rep train more for strength and decrease the rate of muscle growth/hypertrophy?

          Originally posted by dakoose View Post
          With some exercises I'll ramp up for a single or double (not a max single or double) at a weight slightly higher than my work sets and then go back down to my working weight and it feels lighter and takes care of the first rep difficulty issues.

          Theoretically, if I were deadlifting 500 for sets of 8, I might do a single or double at 530 in order to make 500 feel lighter, but I don't use this method very often and I never do it with maximal weights.

          And when I don't use that method, I'll always so a single or double with my working weight just to get a good feel of it before going into the work set.
          I kind of do this in the sense that I do my heavier set of 8-10 reps THEN I do a set with less weight but a little more reps. The 2nd set is much much easier b/c of the lighter weight and the fact that I just lifted heavier weight.

          Doing a heavy single/double before my main lift seems like it would just waste a lot of my energy and not be as effective as just saving that energy for the 1st set. Am I wrong here?

          Originally posted by loch_ness6 View Post
          I echo what Big R said. I used to deadlift touch-and-go style and it got to the point where my 4-6 rep weight was catching my single rep weight b/c I would struggle so bad on the first rep. I started reseting after every rep so now the first rep isn't as bad and my single has increased.
          Makes sense, but I don't care about super low reps on deadlifts. I just want muscle size.

          Which way do you think helped for hypertrophy reasons the most?

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          • #6
            low reps will put on size too, sounds like you've been brainwashed to think that size and strength are exclusive. you may want to focus on one more than the other, but just keep in mind that the deadlift lends itself to being a strength-oriented lift. have you considered switching your focus to Romanian DLs, straight leg DLs, weighted hyperextensions, and the like?

            if you want to stay in the higher rep ranges and completely not focus on strength, many mainsteam bodybuilders i've seen interviewed seem to completely drop the DL and instead use T-bars and other excercises for thickness.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BULK_CITY View Post
              That makes total sense.
              I'm only interested in building the most amount of muscle in the shortest amount of time (strength is nice, but I'd rather have a huge back with 18'' arms).
              Won't reseting at every rep train more for strength and decrease the rate of muscle growth/hypertrophy?
              This all depends on your issue. In the end, time under tension is building that hypertrophy, and doing 10 sets of dead-stop rack pulls is still going to be piling up a whole lot of TUT leading to muscle growth. The constant tension from touch-and-go might provide more hypertrophy stimulus, but lets go to my next point.

              Right now, for you the first rep is the hardest. As long as you can find a way to keep on adding weight and making progression to your rack pulls, and it's just that the first rep feels pretty hard to pick up, but then it's easier from there on out, I don't see a problem with this style. But if you get to a point where you completely missed your set of 585x10 rack pulls because you couldn't even get the first rep off of the pins, then I think you're selling yourself short by doing the touch-and-go style.

              As long as you don't run into a wall with touch-and-go, then you can stick with it. It's just that this becomes much less of an issue as I stated with resetting between reps because if you can do reps 2 through 10 of a weight anyways, you can certainly do that weight for 1 rep.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Zoroaster View Post
                low reps will put on size too, sounds like you've been brainwashed to think that size and strength are exclusive. you may want to focus on one more than the other, but just keep in mind that the deadlift lends itself to being a strength-oriented lift. have you considered switching your focus to Romanian DLs, straight leg DLs, weighted hyperextensions, and the like?

                if you want to stay in the higher rep ranges and completely not focus on strength, many mainsteam bodybuilders i've seen interviewed seem to completely drop the DL and instead use T-bars and other excercises for thickness.
                I don't think I"m brainwashed. I'm just trying to follow DC and do the most amount of weight I can in the 6-10 rep range for my first set then do the most amnt of weight I can in the 8-12 rep range for my 2nd set.

                I considered SLDLs but I'd rather use the DLs for my back (thus do romanians or rack pulls) as SLDLs involve a lot more legs. I can only do 1 variation of the deadlift cause I squat too and my lower back can't take more than that unfortunately.

                Originally posted by Big R View Post
                This all depends on your issue. In the end, time under tension is building that hypertrophy, and doing 10 sets of dead-stop rack pulls is still going to be piling up a whole lot of TUT leading to muscle growth. The constant tension from touch-and-go might provide more hypertrophy stimulus, but lets go to my next point.

                Right now, for you the first rep is the hardest. As long as you can find a way to keep on adding weight and making progression to your rack pulls, and it's just that the first rep feels pretty hard to pick up, but then it's easier from there on out, I don't see a problem with this style. But if you get to a point where you completely missed your set of 585x10 rack pulls because you couldn't even get the first rep off of the pins, then I think you're selling yourself short by doing the touch-and-go style.

                As long as you don't run into a wall with touch-and-go, then you can stick with it. It's just that this becomes much less of an issue as I stated with resetting between reps because if you can do reps 2 through 10 of a weight anyways, you can certainly do that weight for 1 rep.
                This makes sense too. So far I've been able to steadily add 1-2 reps or 2.5-5 lbs every workout pretty consistently.

                I just wonder if my technique was somehow lagging or if there was a way to make it so my dead is stronger from the bottom portion of the movement. Once it's like 6" off the ground it's no problem... but that inital 6" I have to fight like helll.

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                • #9
                  load ordering

                  Originally posted by BULK_CITY View Post
                  I just wonder if my technique was somehow lagging or if there was a way to make it so my dead is stronger from the bottom portion of the movement. Once it's like 6" off the ground it's no problem... but that inital 6" I have to fight like helll.
                  Have you thought about your setup? I really like using this top down load ordering approach. Makes the first rep feel the easiest for me on deads/rack deads.

                  [YOUTUBE]a-DJu0bEVPw[/YOUTUBE]

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                  • #10
                    Great video, I'm glad you shared that.

                    So, to the original question, does it not make sense that the first deadlift would be the hardest because it's dead weight, and you have not yet had a lowering phase? With almost other movement (except the press) you have a lowering phase first, which gets your golgi tendon reflex and all that related stuff I forget the name(s) of- storing energy into the muscles/ligaments/tendons that you can use to lift. The first deadlift (and press) has none of that.

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                    • #11
                      I agree with the deload between reps. It seems like a lot of people will hitch the weight up on the first rep (its too heavy) and then bounce every rep. If you deload between reps you will choose the correct weight (or use shitty form on every rep)
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                      • #12
                        I've been doing my two working deadlift sets as 6-9 reps, then 9-12. Do you guys do your heaviest set first or second? Just curious.

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                        • #13
                          I thought I brought this up in this thread before but I just saw I didn't post in here...

                          I pretty much agree with what has been said here about the benefits of pausing and the benefits of touch and go. But something else to consider is your own personal form...

                          I choose to touch and go for any multi rep set due to the fact that I find when I pause the weight at the bottom I loosen up more than I'd like and not only does that weaken the lift for me but puts me at an increased risk of injury. I would never recommend anyone jerk, yank, hitch at all which there is a greater propensity to do when you aren't tight. And even with good mechanics you will be at a greater risk for injury by not being tight.

                          Now I am sure there are a lot of lifters in both bodybuilding and powerlifting who are able to stay tight at the bottom of 8-10 rep sets. If that is the case then go for it. But I am not one of them. So make an honest form assessment (perhaps with video where it will be more obvious) and include that in your decision making process.
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                          • #14
                            Also,

                            Another thing I have seen cause a lot of guys to struggle on heavy pulls and especially singles is the initial set up. They walk up to the bar, dick around a while, reach down and get there grip 5 times, take 4 breaths... blah, blah, blah.

                            Deadlifts are a brutal exercise. Treat them the way you would if you had to walk up to a black bear and punch it in the face. Stand back and mentally prepare yourself with the brutality of what is to come, then when you decide you're ready.... GO. Walk up, set your feet, get your air and grip it and rip it. Use adrenaline in your favor. Guys psych themselves out and don't even realize it. ATTACK the bar. Deadlifting is the one exercise where I think you can get away with that. Certainly not exercises that are more technical like squats.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Adam2433 View Post
                              I thought I brought this up in this thread before but I just saw I didn't post in here...

                              I pretty much agree with what has been said here about the benefits of pausing and the benefits of touch and go. But something else to consider is your own personal form...

                              I choose to touch and go for any multi rep set due to the fact that I find when I pause the weight at the bottom I loosen up more than I'd like and not only does that weaken the lift for me but puts me at an increased risk of injury. I would never recommend anyone jerk, yank, hitch at all which there is a greater propensity to do when you aren't tight. And even with good mechanics you will be at a greater risk for injury by not being tight.

                              Now I am sure there are a lot of lifters in both bodybuilding and powerlifting who are able to stay tight at the bottom of 8-10 rep sets. If that is the case then go for it. But I am not one of them. So make an honest form assessment (perhaps with video where it will be more obvious) and include that in your decision making process.
                              I'm actually the opposite. I've been trying to touch and go and it always hurts my back after a rep or two. I have those hexagon plastic plates and shitty bars so that might play a part with the touch and go.

                              I don't try and stay tight, I reset every rep. Loosen up, reset, tighten, pull.

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