Should You Drop Weights When Doing Deadlifts? | NoobStrength

Is it ok to Drop Weights when Deadlifting? 4 Things to Consider

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This is a question can sometimes be a source of controversy in the lifting world. There are some people who believe that in order for the deadlift repetition to count, you must always lower the weight in a controlled manner. And then there’s the group that believes that not only is it okay to drop weights, it’s highly preferable in certain circumstances. As with all disagreements, especially on the Internet, this sometimes leads to trolls starting unnecessary flame wars.

Lowering the bar in a controlled manner means going through the reverse motion of the deadlift, while still maintaining tension.

When I say dropping the weight, I mean you are yielding the bar to gravity and letting it fall to the ground. You could be literally opening your hand after you lockout and letting the barbell fall to the ground or maintaining a loose grip on the bar and letting it fall (there’s a bit of technique to this method just FYI).

The truth is that lowering the weight in a controlled manner and dropping the weight are both perfectly acceptable ways to bring the barbell back to the ground when deadlifting. Anyone who gives you crap because of how you choose to bring the bar down (usually for some lame broscience reason) needs to be punched in the face.

How do you determine which style is better for you? Well here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

1) Does your facility allow the weight to be dropped?

This one is pretty straightforward. If your facility does not allow dropping weights, then you can’t drop the weight. There is no reason to risk getting yourself kicked out. Someone else is allowing you to use their property so please don’t be a douche and respect that.

A gym that doesn’t allow dropping weights also usually doesn’t have the right equipment that allows a person to drop weights. In order to actually be able to drop weights, you’ll need rubber/bumper plates (which are designed to be dropped) and/or a weightlifting platform (which can absorb the shock of the drop so the floor isn’t damaged).

If you are ever unsure, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

2) How important is building mass to you?

Lowering the weight in a controlled manner increases the time under tension, which is beneficial for building muscle mass. Therefore, if getting really swole is one of your priorities, I would recommend lowering the weight instead of dropping it whenever possible.

If you are not concerned with putting on mass, then it is perfectly fine to drop the weight. Perhaps you are satisfied with your current size or you compete in a sport that has weight classes. In this case, you are making a decision that is congruent with your end goal and that is ultimately the smart thing to do.

3) Are you really tired?

In order to successfully lower the barbell, you must be able to maintain control. You can’t lose any tension or break your form during the lowering portion. If you do, you will GREATLY increase the odds of injury, especially in your lower back. Trust me, it is not fun waking up in the morning feeling like a cranky old person, especially if you’re full of youthful energy. Being really tired makes it a lot easier to lose your form on the way down. If that is the case, just abandon ship and let go of the bar.

It’s not always easy to calibrate when you’ll get tired. You could be someone who normally lowers the bar but is finding yourself a little lightheaded after you locked out your last rep. Or maybe you just hit a new PR and used up all your juice just getting it up. If this is case, there is no shame in letting go. In fact, just drop the damn weights. You’ll live to lift another day. Toss your ego aside and keep your body safe.

4) Do you plan on competing in powerlifting?

This one is also pretty straightforward. Most powerlifting competitions require you to lower the bar in order for the rep to count. If this is the case, you might as well practice the technique that you will be tested on. If you’re an aspiring powerlifting, get it right during your practice. If you’re lucky, they might be okay with letting you drop the weights with a loose grip on the bar. It would be a real shame to accidentally drop the bar during your moment of triumph because you let your adrenaline get the better of you. And don’t forget to consult your powerlifting organization for their exact requirements.

Regardless of whether you decide to lower the bar in a controlled manner or drop the bar, make sure you don’t half-ass it. Do not kind of drop the bar or kind of lower it. That is another common cause for lower back injuries during the deadlift. Either whole-ass lower the bar in a super-controlled manner, or whole-ass drop the weights.

There you have it folks! Choose the method that suits your goals and be safe!

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I’m a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer and StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor based in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. I offer 1-on-1 personal training, group/couples training, and online fitness coaching!

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