Speed Deadlift Notes

January 29th, 2013 by Laura

These are my notes on speed deadlift stuff that has worked well for me.


  • A single every 30 seconds. With lighter weight, sometimes just a 10-15 second rest is fine. When working at a higher percentage, wait 45 seconds to 1 minute between pulls.
  • Always step away from the bar and approach like each pull as a single.
  • Percentages, Sets & Reps

  • 50-75% range is optimal. I have gone up over that and it’s been fine. The important thing to me is that the weight moves quickly and I can do the lift perfectly.
  • Cycles begin with 12-15 singles and taper off to 5-8 singles.
  • Weight increase can be 5-10% per session.
  • Mindset

  • Every lift is a max. The worst thing is to expect light weight and treat it as such.
  • This is my final meet attempt, the only lift that matters
  • Technique
    Speed pulls have been great for instilling technique upgrades. when I’m looking to make a change, set up a little a slower than normal. Go through the same list of cues for each pull to an even count. (Ex: 1. Big breath, 2. Set grip, etc.). Go through the count faster each time until it starts to becomes speedy, smooth and automatic.

    Use straight weight, singles across. Go light (50-65%) but add in a moderate rep or two before or after each session as a checkpoint. Some things can sneak by with light weight that won’t hold up under heavies.

    If my tech is less than 80% of where I want it to be or something just isn’t sinking in, I forget about trying to bring in speed and just go back to cueing to a smooth count until I’m ready. It is frustrating to have your head swimming with (potentially forgotten) cues. Speed comes with confidence and confidence comes from being sure of what you are doing.

    I like that bands teach to accelerate and highlight if you don’t. My natural approach is to rip the floor and then kind of rest a bit as it clears the knee quickly. My timing through the hips could be a little delayed. Then I’ll slow it to a grind from there even when the weight isn’t heavy enough to warrant being that slow. With bands, if I am off at the top, they will pull me down from the front before I lock out, highlighting the horrible position I’ve put myself in. I’ve been removing band tension (if using) and use straight weight getting closer to the meet.

    I have done almost all of my speed cycles on a 3″ deficit. I love the power and confidence I get off the ground and walking up to the bar on meet day feeling like it is already halfway up. I stay open to the idea that I might need to make some tech adjustments in the final weeks incase anything odd creeped in from the deficit, but it has been more than fine so far.

    On meet week, if I have spent my entire cycle on the deficit, I move to the floor. No specified % in mind. The idea is just to feel the pull from the floor iron out any kinks that might have crept in on the deficit (there usually aren’t any) and get in the mood for a big pull. This might not be enough time on the floor for some; for me it works.

    If I feel that I need to take a dozen or so shots at it, I can but I try to do the minimum I can get away with. Last time, I did one pull with 135. It felt like it was an inch long and I instantly felt a rush of excitement about the meet. So I cut it there and was very excited knowing I was going to have a great pull later that week (and I did). On this day, my body doesn’t even care that less than 1/3 of my max is on the bar, it just knows that they weight flew, it was perfect, and at that point, confidence takes me farther than anything on meet day.

    I’ve run speed pull cycles alongside demanding squat programs leading to a meet. It sharpens my deadlift technique without cutting into recovery, and I end up feeling energetic and excited at the meet. During off-seasons, I don’t find as much use for speed and rely on other work to get stronger.

    They also helped my deadlift stay on track during a year that I was recovering from surgery and not able to pull heavy very often.

    When trying to re-wire a pattern or improve tech, I think it is helpful to take a max or near-max pull for diagnostics, and even open up to the possibility of a fail (an honorable fail, not a sit-on-the-floor soul crusher) prior to starting the speed cycle. After analyzing what went wrong, the needed changes can be easily spotted, addressed and instilled with the speed work.

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