Things I Think I Know – Touch and Go Deadlifts

Here is Emevas’ next guest post in the “Things I Think I Know” series.

After he made his case for using straps, today Emevas talks about something that goes against conventional – the advantages of Touch ‘n Go Deadlifts.

As always, you might agree or disagree, but I hope this post will get you thinking.

Let us know your opinions in the comments or on reddit.

Update: Because there has been some confusion by what Emevas means, here is a clarification:

To clarify, I am not advocating bouncing. Bouncing is how you get injured. On a touch and go set, it is imperative that you maintain tension the entire time. When you bounce, you remove tension from the bottom of the lift, and force your body to regain tension midway through.

On to the post itself …

All Deadlifts Should be Touch and Go

A deadlift starts from a dead stop on the floor. That’s why it’s called a deadlift. If you don’t pause on the floor, it’s not a deadlift.

Emevas Touch and Go DeadliftI will agree with that, purely because I am a semantic asshole. That said, it’s a terrible reason to choose how you do an exercise.

Anyone who has done a deadlift knows that breaking off the floor tends to be more the most stressful portion of the lift, even if you are strong off the floor.

Breaking a very heavy weight off the floor is taxing. Doing it multiple times in a workout is very taxing. Doing this multiple times a week/month in turn is incredibly taxing.

In many cases, it makes recovery between workouts difficult without excessive eating/sleeping (which I am very much in favor of, but also realize that many have lifestyle that will not support this/don’t want to get excessively fat).

The touch and go style ensures that you break off the floor significantly less in a workout (I’ll still break off the floor at least twice, once for the initial, and one more time after the first put down to see how many more reps I can eek out), making the entire process less taxing.

Additionally, many make the argument that dead stop deadlifts are more analogous to a competition deadlift, since you only do one rep in competition.

I argue that with this logic, the

touch and go is actually a better tool for training for a heavy single.

Anyone that has ever seen or taken part in a grinder deadlift has seen the common 7-8 second agonizing single.

When you perform deadstop deadlifts with a weight you can do for 5 reps (for the sake of argument), none of these reps are going to last longer than 1-2 seconds, and thus your body learns how to strain for this long when it comes to deadlifting.

When placed in a situation where it needs to take 7 seconds to get from floor to lockout, it is in foreign territory. When you perform a touch and go set for the same amount of reps, you in turn are maintaining tension for 5-10 seconds, meaning that your body is able to handle this sort of tension and knows how to remain tight.

Though the weight you will be using during the deadlift will be heavier in competition compared to your touch and go training lifts (and this can be addressed with ROM progression training), the time you are straining will be equal.

Though some may make the counter argument that dead stop deads get you stronger since you get better at breaking off the floor, and anything you can break off the floor for a working set you can definitely do in competition.

Makes Recovery Easier

I would argue that since touch and go deads are less taxing and make it easier to recover between training, your strength will increase at a faster rate (due to less needed deloads/resets/time off).

You will either at least meet or surpass the deadstop crowd, and be less burnt out/injury prone as you do.

With breaking off the floor being the most stressful and taxing part of the lift, it is going to be the part most prone to causing injury as you fatigue toward the end of the set and experienced form deviation.

To tie the straps back in, definitely use them with touch and go. The bar is going to be off the floor for a LONG time, don’t let your grip ruin your workout.

Want to guest post on All Things Gym? Contact me.

  • SSW

    his conclusions are not based on fact or reason. his whole “breaking off the floor” argument is just wrong. The reason it seems easier to touch and go is that there is already tension in your lifting muscles. If he will quit jerking it off the floor, that problem will go away. therefor all that less “taxing” argument is out the window. As for being better for what he attempts to describe as time under tension, his 1-2 second argument is also wrong. If you can do 5 reps with a tempo of 1-2 seconds, then do 8 or 10. By the time you get to 10 I promise it will take longer than 1-2 seconds to get the lift.
    Touch and go is a recipe for poor form, and I don’t care who the lifter it. the reps after the first one are degraded. it is impossible to set a heavy bar down with the back in the proper position for execution of the next lift. That is why the deadlift is a CONCENTRIC lift only.
    None of what he said makes any sense. But if that is the way HE likes to train, well, this is America, and he can do what he wants.

    • sporting

      At the end of the day it’s a simple lift that breaks down into GRIP, RIP and pray you can walk after. PR or ER

      • GregorATG

        Well said.

    • Frankie Parke

      touch and gos can and have been proved to work as mr magnusson uses them

    • Emevas

      Oh ok.

  • Everett

    While I agree that it may lead to less injury and is less stressful on one’s back, the problem is that you may develop an off-the-floor weakness. Although he does not have this problem, but I’ve seen many, many lifters who are weak off the floor as a result of TNG deadlifts. In the end, it may be an okay choice for some lifters. I have weak quads and a strong back on squats, so I never have to do GMs, but I have to front squat 3x a week. It might be totally different for a lifter who has strong quads, but a weak back. The same goes for DLs. You can’t really give blanket advice for everyone because form and natural strength varies so much. If you are really strong off the floor, feel free to do TNGs.

    • GregorATG

      Good input Everett.

      Of course a lot of it comes down to individual preferences.

      Personally, I like to mix it up. With the exception of the last set on week 3 I do my final sets tng. All sets leading up to the final set are strict.

  • Nish

    I guess this really depends on the end goal. If you’re objective is to be the best deadlifter (or crossfitter jkjk), then by all means try everything. However, I think most people are aware that deadlift is, or atleast should be, the most taxing lift of the week/month and accordingly plan their recovery. I personally can’t bear the feeling of not releasing after locking out.

    • GregorATG

      I wish I could release after lockout, but because I lift at home with neighbors below me that option is out the window.

  • DustinBT

    If you want the grinder single, just do a 1-2 count pause at the knees ala sheiko. Gets the exact same training effect with the exact same easier recovery but with the multiple setups/dead starts that are the whole point of not doing touch n go. I just don’t see any reason to do touch n go vs other options. Seems like a great way to make yourself weak off the floor. There are better options for training the grinder.

    • GregorATG

      Pauses in Deadlifts… I have actually never done those. Thanks Dustin.

  • saveme emevas

    Let’s see where we can get with this kind of reasoning. Bench press should only be done halfway down on most reps – because the heaviest part of the lift is off the chest! Squats should only be done half-way down too, since the deep part is the hardest part. Cleans shouldn’t ever be done at all because the heaviest part of the lift is the second pull and if you remove that all you have is a deadlift.

    I hope this dude has a big impact on the training community.

    • GregorATG

      BS!

      Did you even bother to read this?

      His reasoning leads nowhere to half squats etc. You are attacking a straw man. Don’t put words in his mouth.

      That’s not how I like to see discussions go here.

      • saveme emevas

        His argument is: “bouncing is easier to perform, hence easier to recover from and thus better”

        Not going below parallel on the squat is easier to perform, and hence easier to recover from and, by his line of reasoning, it’s better. I could of course expand on this and say that proper lower back positioning is often lost in the bottom of the squat – so doing this you would decrease the risk of injury too. Sounds great doesn’t it?

        I know he’s not talking about squats, but this argument is NOT specific to deadlifts. So why should it apply there and not on other exercises?

        • Emevas

          To clarify, I am not advocating bouncing. Bouncing is how you get injured. On a touch and go set, it is imperative that you maintain tension the entire time. When you bounce, you remove tension from the bottom of the lift, and force your body to regain tension midway through.

          • GregorATG

            I have explained this in a comment on reddit also. Apparently some people have been confused by this. May I should put your comment in the post itself.

          • Emevas

            Feel free to do so. I am attempting to stay out of the reddit threads as I feel it would be better to observe the comments, but I think that clarifying point is essential to prevent people from injurying themselves if they attempt this.

        • Jonny

          Ilya Ilin trains his squats by not going as deep as he can, yet when it comes to it, his clean and snatch recoveries are insane…

  • Dan

    I tried touch and go reps for about 8 months and got really strong on them…however my 1rm didn’t. Just not a good idea for myself and I seem to find similar results with those around me. I wish I got great carry over from them, because they’re fun to do.

  • Tom

    I’ve used both Touch & Go and Dead-stop, both to great effect. I’d have to say there’s not THAT much difference in overall training effect. In T&G you can build up momentum and lose tightness which I have seen affect people’s technique. As Wendler says, “If you’re strong enough to hold your position and you have the control to do it, this option will work for you”.

    I think the Dead-Stop is good to do also, as it will make you better off the floor. It is however more taxing and will potentially mean pulling off the floor multiple times which, when fatigued, may affect technique.

    In conclusion, do whatever you feel is best, keep lifting and get stronger.