Deadlifting is a great total body workout that builds strength and power. It does also burn major calories since you are using so much energy to lift the weight off the floor to the locked position. Using lighter weights and less intensity during deadlift routines has become more of a norm if you are just starting out or plan on deadlifting multiple times a week.
So do you have to go heavy on deadlifts?
You do not need to go heavy on your deadlifts all the time. Both light, medium, and heavy weights have their place for deadlifts especially once you plateau it is best to switch up or take a break. Just make sure to keep your form throughout the entire exercise and also try to reach failure so you can continue to build muscle.
If you are using lightweights it is important to fatigue your muscles so you may need to do more reps then usually do of course. With any weight you can build new muscle you just need to get push it to failure to create that muscle growth. Below we gathered info from weightlifters on doing deadlifts with light weights and higher rep volume the opinions were eye opening.
Deadlifting Lighter Weights (Opinions From Real Weightlifters)
So we didn’t want you to only take our word for it on deadlifting light weights so we went out to other lifting forums and groups to gather information to bring back to you. We curated this information and only changed spelling/grammar where needed.
1. Skymirrh “Yes, Higher reps okay to switch up” – Depends of your definition of “light weight” and “high number of reps”. I follow an upper-lower split where I do all my exercises at least twice a week, once in 4×5@85%1RM (strength) and once in 4×8-12@60-70%1RM (volume). Including deadlift. Sets of 12 on the deadlift are definitely a huge toll to take at first, but after getting used to it I feel like my work capacity has gone through the roof. So yea, definitely beneficial for me 🙂 Just be careful as the higher you go on reps, the easier it is to mess up form, especially on deadlift. Don’t go to complete failure on compound exercises. Stop your set immediately at the first technical failure (i.e. your form isn’t perfect).
2. CatalyticDragon “Yes, still building muscle” – If you do a lot of them you will still build muscle but you’ll be focusing more on endurance (and potentially speed) over training your central nervous system to rip heavy weight.
3. IIAMTheGoldenGod “Yes, speed deadlifts” – You could try Speed Deadlifts. It’s actually a technique used for powerlifting, uses lighter weight, and it’s pretty good cardio.
4. AnywayItIs235 “Yes, still build muscle” – High rep deadlifts make you better at high rep deadlifts and enhance your work capacity. Unless you do something like 5×20, high reps do build muscle. Well, 5×20 does too I guess but not very much.
5. FitpBryd “No, risking injury” – You have to consider form breakdown when doing higher reps. With the deadlift, your lower back will likely start rounding, risking injury.
6. Numero34 “Yes, use light and heavy” – They both have a purpose so rotate them.
7. TerryTai88 “Yes, just not too light” – Just don’t go too light. It’s very hard to learn form and technique on a light deadlift. Much easier to get a feel for and learn proper form on heavier deadlifts.
8. OiledBurger “Yes, but probably won’t achieve as much as with heavy” – Deadlifts are typically an exercise you go heavy on for fewer reps(1-6 reps). You can do higher reps with low weight if you want, but you’ll be exercising your grip strength better than your hamstrings glutes and back. You have to achieve failure to properly exhaust the muscle and since it’s a compound exercise a lot of different muscles are working together to lift it. If you go light you’ll achieve failure in the smaller muscles like your hands faster than you would with your big muscles like your back and legs. You want to train with a weight that you can do proper form with too. If you cannot maintain form with a certain weight, drop the weight and do it right until you get strong enough
9. Calcaneus “No, do single leg instead” – Why not do single leg deadlifts? (Hold the weights at your sides, and do what basically looks like a squat standing on one leg.) I do them with maybe 1/4 of my deadlift weight and find them pretty challenging.
10. SchwanzKafka “Yes, not completely a waste” – You’re never completely wasting your time if you’re moving, and if you can hit something that really fatigues you, you’re at least doing some kind of work. Dumbells up to 40 would let you get in a ton of shoulder/arm/core and the likes and even probably grow (albeit slower than if you had the big compound lifts to help).
But, this is one huge fuckin’ caveat, “not feeling like going to the gym” is not a reason to not go to the gym. The only really mandatory, absolutely vital part of any program is that you get there every single day that you should be going. Anything else will come from this (you will, worst case, build a solid routine once you KNOW you’re going), and jack shit will come if you let yourself skip.
No matter what happens, go. And keep going. Any sort of dread will evaporate over time. I’m not saying go to the gym to siphon it’s magical swole powers (although those do help), but go because it is the best way to make certain you do work and improve. If you let yourself make excuses, you will.
11. PrivilegedHere “Yes, try to do to failure still” – There was a study i read around here that found whether high reps or low reps as long as the exercise is done to failure. The person will have elevated levels of growth hormones the following day. I get pretty good gains my doing high reps until failure with stuff like OHP, tricep extension, stuff like that. Deadlift just seems different though, I guess because it is a very compound exercise. But maybe that’s just in my head…
12. TheSorrow312 “No, too taxing on CNS” – Deads are really taxing on your CNS. Doing so many at such a low weight won’t really strengthen or add muscle for you. more than 20 reps on compound lifts is insanity really.
13. Frenris “No, do stiff leg DB’s instead” – Do stiff-legged DB deadlifts. I find hi-rep deadlifts (especially with DBs) a bit clumsy but these do the job nicely!
14. KickitLikeBruce “Yes, but won’t build as much muscle” – You won’t really build muscle. On the bright side your most likely burning a few more calories thAn if you did high weir low reps. If hats the type of thing your going for.
15. Dan1573 “No, wouldn’t really build muscle” – You wouldn’t really build any strong muscle that way. But on the bright side, you’d be able to deadlift 80 lbs for 30 reps.
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