3 Exercise Variations to Improve Your Deadlift Lockout

1. Accommodating Resistance Variations (Bands/Chains)

“Accommodating resistance” refers to the use of additional equipment (typically bands/chains) to increase the resistance of the load throughout a movements range of motion. This is usually done in an attempt to make the movement “equally difficult” throughout it’s entire range of motion. I.e. the movement is easier where you are biomechanically weakest and get’s harder where you are biomechanically strongest.

Why this would work so well for working on a deadlift lockout issue is you can effectively overload the top portion of the deadlift by utilizing accommodating resistance.

When you think about the bands or chains raising up off the floor with your pull, the load you are pulling is getting progressively heavier the higher you go. This means you could only be pulling 400lbs off the floor but the load reaches 500lbs by the time you reach lockout. Basically your lockouts will always be challenging.

Get used to this style of accommodating resistance and going back to fixed resistance (no bands/chains) will feel easy by comparison.

2. Block Pulls/Rack Pulls

Block pulls and rack pulls are both deadlift variations that involve the starting position for the deadlift being raised higher off the floor than is normal. You probably see where I’m going with this already.

You can effectively utilize block/rack pulls to train the exact range of motion you struggle with most.

Your goal would be to set-up the pulls to the exact spot you typically find yourself failing at. It probably won’t feel like a comfortable position to start your pull from, you’ll likely hate it, but just stick with it for a few weeks. If you can take the time to build up strength in what was once a weak position for you’ll be able to eliminate the lockout issue altogether.

3. Long Pause Deadlifts

Pause deadlifts can help your struggling lockout in two ways.

First you are effectively killing your momentum with the pause making the movement even more challenging right before the range of motion you’ll typically start to struggle with. Constantly training these pauses will make your normal lockouts seem easy by comparison.

Second, your deadlift lockout issues may not be a strength issue but a technique issue instead. If you are not locking out your knees and hips in conjunction with each other you’re likely to have a lockout issue amongst other issues.

The pause will help you learn how to effectively drive and extend both your knees and hips at the same time leading to improved performance for your deadlift across the board.


Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.