Deadlift Mastery: Paused Deadlifts

Paused deadlifts are one of my favorite deadlift assistance exercises.

When it comes to building a big deadlift, there’s nothing more important than practicing the movement itself. When you’re not doing the movement itself, choose a variation that specifically addresses your weaknesses.

I want to introduce you to the paused deadlift. They are an awesome choice for strengthening sticking points anywhere from off the floor to the knees.

Paused Deadlift: 545 x 3


  • Creates more time under tension at your sticking point. This will allow you to build muscle and intuitively find your strongest position, while paused at your weakest point in the deadlift.
  • Forces you to brace properly and stabilize the spine, preventing lumbar flexion or low back rounding.
  • It will force you to keep everything tight, including your lats. This will keep the bar close to your body and allow you to keep your chest upright. This will create a better bar path allowing you to finish the lift more efficiently.
  • They are great for building grip strength. The increased time under tension forces you to hold the weight for an extended amount of time which really puts your grip to the test.
  • Improved technique. You will learn how to stay tighter and more controlled, even at your weakest point.

How to Perform the Paused Deadlift

The setup:

  • Big air, brace and get as tight as possible.
  • Try to touch your glutes to the wall behind you. Feel your hamstrings stretch.
  • Grab the bar with an over/under grip. Choke the bar! (*In the video you will notice I’m using straps and a double overhand grip. This was done because my callouses were irritated and I had to use the straps. I recommend using the over/under grip with no straps so you can setup properly and build your grip strength.)
  • Tighten your lats and pull the slack out of the bar.
  • Use the bar to pull your chest up so anyone in front of you can see the logo on your shirt.
  • Pull your hips into place and find your heels.
  • Find tension in your hamstrings.
  • Stand up explosively through your heels. You will want to drive through your heels as hard as possible. The deadlift is similar to a leg press. You push your heels into the floor as hard as possible rather than pulling the bar off the floor with your back.
  • Pause at the point you struggle most in the lift, then accelerate and finish the lift.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight, between 60 – 80% of your 1RM. If you’re new to the paused deadlift, start on the lighter side.

You can perform 2 – 5 reps a set, with anywhere between 1 – 5 seconds paused. You want to keep the total amount of reps each set fairly low. There is a lot of time under tension during paused pulls and too much weight, or too many reps can compromise your form. If you can easily perform more than 5 reps with the weight you’ve chosen, it may be too light.


Paused deadlifts are great for optimizing your pull, improving your technique and strengthening your sticking point. If you have any question on how to incorporate the paused deadlift into your program, or you’re are looking to add pounds to your pull, send me a message at: with “Deadlift” in the subject line.

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6 thoughts on “Deadlift Mastery: Paused Deadlifts

  1. Linda

    Thanks for sharing Adam! I’ve been really struggling with the deadlift and searching the Internet for help. My problem is that I am losing tension in my lats as soon as I pull and my upper back rounds. I believe my setup is good, but as soon as I pull I lose that tension. I have pulled 315×1, but the form was horrible. I think I am pulling with my back. My lower back doesn’t round, just my upper back. Any suggestions? I really want to master this lift. It’s one of my favorites. Thanks so much!

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