5 Reasons Your Deadlift is Weak Off The Floor

1. The Barbell Is Too Far In Front of You

The number one culprit behind any deadlift feeling harder than it needs to is the barbell is to far out in front of the lifter.

If the barbell is too far forward even by as little as an inch this can have a huge impact on how easy or difficult a pull actually feels.

To ensure you have the most efficient deadlift possible the bar should start over the middle of your foot and be pulled in a straight line up and down over the middle of your foot for the entirety of the pull.

Common mistakes will be when the lifter doesn’t start in this midfoot position (noticeable by their shins not touching the bar, or they have to push their knees extremely far forwards for their shins to reach the bar). Additionally, some lifters will start in the correct midfoot position then accidently push the bar forwards as they go to lift.

2. Low Starting Hip Position

Another reason a deadlift can feel “stuck” to the floor is your starting hip position is actually too low.

This can be seen a lot in novice lifters who don’t want to use their back and are instead trying to “squat” the weight up. Additionally, some weightlifters who have switched from the clean and jerk to deadlifting can have trouble as they try and use the much lower hip position of the clean on their deadlifts (despite looking similar the starting positions for these two movements are not the same).

To ensure you have a proper starting hip position, align the barbell over the middle of your feet, set your hand position, and then slowly lower your hips until your shins touch the bar (NOTE: Lower Your HIPS until your shins touch the bar, don’t just bring your shins to the bar). Wherever your hips sit naturally once your shins touch the bar is your proper starting hip height.

3. You Aren’t Using Your Legs

The deadlift is often seen as the ultimate posterior chain exercise. However, your legs can help you out big time especially when it comes to breaking the floor.

To utilize both the full strength of your legs and posterior chain at the same time, imagine that you are physically “leg pressing” the ground away from you as you pull. This will allow you to utilize some of your quad strength to help you break the floor.

So, yes. Just like you’d imagine pushing that rickety YMCA leg press, you’re going to imagine pushing the entire world away from you. Lightweight baby…

4. You Need to Pull The Slack Out

Pulling the slack out” refers to pulling all of the tension out of a barbell before it ever leaves the floor. Put simply, you’re pulling the “bend” out of the bar.

Now, depending on the barbell you are using this can have a big impact on your pull. For example, a stiff Ohio power bar probably isn’t going to have all that much slack for you to pull out. Try the same on a Texas deadlift bar, however, and you might be able to pull the bar a good 2-3 inches higher without the plates even leaving the ground.

Regardless, you want to be doing this for every deadlift you do. If you haven’t pulled the slack out before you go for your deadlift some of your initial pull energy is instead going to dissipate into the bar bending. Not the plates actually leaving the ground just the bar bending. This can quite literally feel like you hit a speed bump mid pull especially if you are a more explosive lifter.

With all of the slack pulled out, however, you’re left with a much smoother pull, and all of your initial starting energy is guaranteed to be going into the deadlift itself.

5. You Lack #themindset

Deadlifts are a unique lift in that they require 100% of your focus and effort to move any weight that can be deemed “significantly heavy”.

You can have all of the technical skill in the world and still end up defeating yourself in the 30 seconds before you even step up to address the barbell.

A lot of lifters have no technical issues that need to be addressed, they have no weaknesses that need to be worked on, they simply need to believe that they can move the weight and step up and commit to the pull.

Breaking the floor has just as much to do with your confidence and overall mindset as it does your technical ability.

If you are stepping up to the bar with negativity, you’re lacking focus, or you’re already telling yourself that it’s not going to leave the floor…you’re probably right…

(Looking for deadlift specific programming? Check this out!!)


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.