How To Do The Paused Deadlift Properly

If you are a deadlift enthusiast, you’ve definitely heard about the paused deadlift.

This variation resembles a regular deadlift, but with one small tweak; a pause at the bottom of the rep.

The tweak might seem like an insignificant addition, but in actual sense it impacts the effectiveness of the movement drastically.

So, how do you do the paused deadlift in the first place?

Here are the steps:

  • First, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Grasp the barbell with a mixed grip or a double overhand grip.
  • Drive your hips forward to lift the bar up. Keep your back flat during the lift.
  • When you get to the top position, squeeze your glutes before lowering into the bottom position.
  • Pause for two seconds when you get to the bottom, making sure the bar remains motionless during the pause.
  • Lower the bar to the ground using a reverse motion while maintaining a flat back. This completes the rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE PAUSED DEADLIFT WORK?

QUADRICEPS

One of the main differences between the regular deadlift and the paused deadlift is that the latter places more emphasis on your quadriceps than any other muscle.

During the paused deadlift, you place the quads under tension for a longer time, which means they will be forced to work harder during the isometric contraction created by the pause.

This way, you end up working your quadriceps more than any other muscle that is engaged during the movement.

The other muscles recruited during this exercise are your glutes, hamstrings, adductor magnus (on your inner thigh), lats, rhomboids, traps, obliques and abdominals.

BENEFITS OF THE PAUSED DEADLIFT

HIGH TRAINING EFFECT

Generally, when you are weight training with most deadlifts, the effectiveness of the exercise heavily depends upon how much weight you use.

The paused deadlift gives you a high training effect without you necessarily having to lift a lot of load.

 

This is because the increased time under tension for your muscles creates nearly as much tension as a heavy load would, hence bringing the same effect.

FUNCTIONALITY

This exercise mimics the lifting that you do throughout the day, which makes it a functional exercise.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE PAUSED DEADLIFT

TRAP BAR DEADLIFT

The trap bar deadlift is a variation of the regular deadlift that uses a trap bar to work your muscles without putting too much stress on your lower back.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Load the bar with your desired weight and step inside it, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge at the hips, and then bend your knees to grasp the handles of the bar.
  • With your back flat and your chest up, push your hips back while looking straight forward.
  • Breathe in and lift the bar, stopping at the top position to squeeze your glutes.
  • Exhale and release the bar to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

The single-leg Romanian deadlift works multiple muscles, most of which are the same as those engaged in the paused deadlift.

Steps:

  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand.
  • With your back straight and your gaze focused forward, put your bodyweight into the left leg.
  • Hinge forward at your waist, taking your right leg upward and back until your body is in a straight line, from head to toe.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat the steps as many times as you desire.

CABLE PULL THROUGH

The cable pull through mimics the hip hinge motion of the deadlift to work the muscles of the posterior chain with very minimal stress on your back.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Adjust the cable machine to bring the rope pull attachment to the floor.
  • Stand upright with your back to the cable machine.
  • Grab the attachment between your legs with both hands and get up.
  • Step your feet a few steps in front so that the weight comes off the rack. This is your starting position.
  • Hinging at your waist, push your hips toward the machine to allow the cable to travel through your legs until you feel a strong stretch in your hamstrings. Your spine should be in a neutral position during this motion.
  • Pause for a few seconds and get back to the starting position, making sure to squeeze the glutes at the top.

PAUSED DEADLIFT MISTAKES TO AVOID

INCONSISTENCY WITH THE PAUSE POSITION

From the very first rep, you should decide exactly where you are going to make your pause and maintain it in subsequent reps.

For example, if you decide you want to pause two inches off the floor, all your other reps should pause at that exact point.

You are likely to get better results from the movement if you are precise with such important elements of the exercise.

HEAD MOVEMENT

Avoid moving your head excessively. Once you have established a comfortable and neutral head position at the start, it should remain that way until you finish your rep.

Moving your head around could cause your spine to lose its alignment and put your neck muscles at risk of injury.

ROUNDING SHOULDERS OR BACK

Do not round your spine and shoulders as you lift; this could ruin your alignment. To keep your back straight, try to keep your hips hinged and your abs tight.

USING HEAVY WEIGHT

Just as with every other deadlift, you should first go light with this deadlift until you have gained enough strength to use heavy weight.

This will enable you to perfect your form for the best results.

TO SUM UP

The paused deadlift is considered one of the most effective accessory exercises for the deadlift.

It increases the time your target muscles spend under tension so that their muscle fibers are maximally engaged, which translates into a better workout.

Make sure you maintain the correct form, stay consistent and avoid the mistakes mentioned in this article to get the most out of this movement.

All the best!