A member of one of our CUT classes asked whether or not they should drop their deadlift from the top or lower it down. I think it can sometimes be intimidating to ask questions in class (and admit that you don’t already know things), so any time someone asks a question I like to assume that we have many other members that have thought it but haven’t asked. That means an answer that was previously just heard by that small group needs to get repeated for everyone else in the gym!
She explained that her previous trainer had told her that lowering a deadlift was unsafe on the low back and that instead one should drop a deadlift at the top.
I disagree with this and will explain a few reasons why.
First, I’ll address the safety idea. If it was safe to lift the weight up, it’s safe to put it down. The Eccentric phase (lowering the weight) is the easier part of the deadlift. If it isn’t lifted properly on the way up to the point that the trainer advises ‘just drop the weight’, then something is wrong. The body should follow the same path both up and down during the deadlift, so it should be as safe lowering it as it is lifting it. If you don’t feel comfortable lowering the weight, then I don’t think you’re ready to lift it.
Second, the Eccentric phase of an exercise is a critical part of the movement. By dropping the weight from the top, that phase is skipped and with it, many of the benefits of the deadlift. If you recommend the exercise because of its muscle building properties, then you miss out on the primary portion of the movement that builds muscle. If you tout the deadlift for its functionality, then you miss out on the function of the lift, unless the next time you go to lift something in the real world you plan on just dropping it when you’re done. I guess that’s one easy way to not get asked to help your friends move furniture!
This doesn’t mean you can never let go of a bar. By all means, if you are in the middle of a lift and you feel your technique leave you, then dropping the bar is likely the safest way to get out of that lift. However, you definitely should not go into any exercise planning on having bad form.
The program we’re starting on Monday March 25 is 10 weeks long and is focused on muscle hypertrophy and hitting a new 8 rep max in the big 3. We’ll have a very wide variety of movements, but they’ll all be driven towards being better at the big 3. Morgan, Cason and Corey designed the program.
Weeks 1 and 2 will be sets of 12. Weeks 3 and 4 will be sets of 10. Weeks 5 and 6 will be sets of 8. Week 7 will be a deload week. Weeks 8 and 9 will be sets of 6. Week 10 will be a test week. To help focus over the 10 weeks, a goal for that big test would be useful. You could either think of a 1RM you’d like to hit and work from there, or think of your best 8RM and try to beat that. Neither of them is wrong. If you’re someone that excels at reps, then thinking about a 1RM and working backwards wouldn’t be as useful. If you have an 8RM but it’s not recent, then that wouldn’t be that useful either. To calculate your 8RM off a projected/goal 1RM just multiply your goal 1RM by .8. So if you want to end this program with the potential to bench 300 you’d multiply 300 by .8 and have an end goal of hitting 240 for 8 reps. An alternate way to work would be to know that you can hit 225 for 8 currently and want to drive that number up to 235 over the next 10 weeks. Due to the wide variety of exercises we’ll be using over the next 10 weeks, we’ll use both an RPE and an estimated percentage of 1RM for you to use. If it’s a squat based variation, you’d base it off of your best squat. If it’s a DL variation you’d base it off of your best DL. If we say 60% for your Wide Grip Bench with a 3 second eccentric, I do not expect you to know what your 1RM is for a 3 second eccentric on a Wide Grip Bench. These recommendations will vary a good bit, so for most exercises, think of them as an RPE 8. If you are doing an exercise that focuses on one of your weak points, you’ll probably need less weight than the estimated percent, if it’s a strong point more. The weight should be challenging, but you shouldn’t be missing reps. Further, the accessory work matters in this program, so you don’t want to be so exhausted by our main exercise that you don’t complete the rest of the work. The workouts will repeat for 2 week cycles, with the second week having an opportunity to do an AMRAP set on the last set of the main lift. Fridays will still be the most challenging cardio day. To add more variety, the days of the week are on a rotating cycle, so if Mondays are a bad day for you or Fridays are often missed, you’ll be missing a variety of things, not the same thing every week.
I am excited to run through this program with all of you. I’m really excited about an opportunity to expose some weaknesses and improve on them. If you have any questions about the program, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget it’s never too late for YOU to join a gym that does programs instead of random workouts pulled out of thin air.