Plateau Busting

Snatch Grip Deadlift

Snatch Grip Deadlift

Deadlift Rack Pulls

Deadlift Rack Pulls

We all hit plateaus in weightlifting.  Sometimes those plateaus are mental and other times they are physical.  Quite often the same methods for busting that plateau will work for both kinds.  Let’s look at the deadlift for examples.

I think athletes get stuck on plateaus with the deadlift more than any other lift.  It’s a big lift with more weight than any other lift (usually) and it can be a scary one.  Often there is a real fear of hurting oneself when going for a max lift with the deadlift, more so than any other lift. It can be an intimidating lift.  

I have a prescription that I hand out whenever I get an athlete stuck at a deadlift plateau.  So far, it has a pretty good success rate.  Just about 100% actually.  Firstly, I ban all further conventional deadlift attempts for a certain amount of time.  A deadlift time out, so to speak.  That time period depends on the athlete.  The more advanced the athlete, the longer the time.  Usually it’s about a month. 

In that time period, the athlete will train as normal and focus on two specific lifts–the snatch grip deadlift and deadlift rack pulls.

The snatch grip deadlift is exactly what it sounds like, a deadlift with a snatch width grip.  Basically the first pull of a snatch. Except I want you to load up that bar with max weight.  Work the snatch grip deadlift as you would a normal DL–3RMs, 5RMs, a sprinkling of heavy singles, etc.  Your weights won’t be as heavy as a regular DL due to the deeper start position demanded by a wide grip.  A good goal is snatch grip DLs approaching your normal DL singles.

Deadlift rack pulls are deadlifts done with the bar set on bars or pins, or boxes, at a height higher than the floor.  I usually start athletes right above the knee.  The load for rack pulls will be greater than a floor start due to the higher position.  Working with heavier weights, even with lessened ROM will give an athlete confidence with, and let the body get used to, greater weights.  As the athlete gets used to the movement, and the loads get heavier, the start position can be gradually lowered.

A quick word on straps.  We don’t use them at CF West.  I know all the arguments for them, but I find the carry over to other movements, as well as the body’s confidence to come to grip without surprise with heavy loads, greatly lessened with the use of straps.

The next you or one of your athletes hits a plateau, deadlift or otherwise, give the system outlined above a try.  I bet it will work perfectly, bringing new PRs and heightened programming.

What are methods you use to break a plateau, in the deadlift or otherwise?  Please post to Comments.


Clean Pulls

7 sets of 3 

Place a stick across the uprights of a squat stand and really jump shrug the bar to the stick.


Deadlift Rack Pulls

7 singles

Start with the bar right above the knee.  Go heavy. Really heavy.


Finish off with muscle up practice.  Work your way from kipping muscle ups to full extension.  Then to deadhang. Then to skin-the-cat muscle ups.

Post WOD and loads to Comments.