There are a few different ways that people may perform the negative part of their deadlift. Ironically, one of them involves not performing it at all – in other words, simply dropping the bar from the top of the movement.
This seems a little crazy. The touch & go technique involves a soft touch on the ground and that makes sense. Even a dead stop to re-position ourselves to appropriate form and relax our breath before the next rep makes a bit of sense, barring the issue of time under tension loss.
However, why would anyone actually want to drop the bar from the top of the deadlift?
Why People Don’t Drop the Weight
Before getting into the reasons why someone may want to drop the weight, it is important to consider why people are not doing it in the first place.
Whenever we go to a gym, we are obliged to follow the rules of that gym. In most gyms, it is either too intimidating, loud, or dangerous to allow anyone to drop the weights. Or, maybe they are worried about the weights getting damaged.
This is understandable, but at the same time it is a common fact that the deadlift is utilized for its pulling movement. The negative part of the movement is just a spell for disaster and it can lead to serious injury if the movement is not smooth and quick enough.
Why People Should Drop the Weight
The most beneficial reason to dropping the weight is to focus primarily on strength gains. The eccentric portion of the movement taxes the muscles of the body and triggers hypertrophy. This means that it would help us with putting on size – which is fine and dandy, unless our goal is to get stronger.
This is why we see so many powerlifters just dropping the bar from the top of the deadlift. They focus on the explosive movement up from the floor. Another example is with sprint training – some of the greatest coaches get the athlete to lift from mid-shin, explode to the top and drop the weight.
Lowering the Bar for Mass Gains
Being concerned about injuring ourselves when lowering the weight is not an issue if we know what we are doing. It is the same as moving upward, we just need to have the right form and execute the movement properly to not hurt ourselves.
The truth is that hypertrophy happens mainly during the negative part of the deadlift (going back down). It really helps trigger muscle growth and strengthening in many of the stabilizer muscles of the back.
A great way to understand the anabolic nature of the deadlift with a controlled negative is by looking at the factor of time under tension. The time our muscles are under tension is a major variable in the equation that dictates how much muscle growth will occur. The controlled negative allows for the muscles to stay under tension, even if not a lot, while dropping the weight completely takes that tension away.
It’s comparable to stretching as far as we can and stopping when we get there instead of holding it in place.
To Drop or Not?
This post really sides with both dropping and not dropping as the right thing to do.
To clarify, drop for explosive strength or lower with control for muscle mass.
It’s as simple as that. So all we have to do is tailor how we perform the deadlift based on our personal goals.
At the same time, we also have to think about the rules at our gym. This is definitely not the most appealing thing to hear, but sometimes we simply can’t train a certain way. If this is the case, we will have to come to an ultimatum – do we deadlift with controlled negatives or do we join a different gym?
In most cases, the lifter would only have a strong preference towards dropping the weight if they train like a powerlifter. Under these circumstances, switching to a powerlifting gym is good for many reasons.
Neither dropping nor not dropping is considered to be the right way to do it. However, it is definitely true that only one of these techniques is the optimal way of approaching the deadlift when there are certain goals in place. So deciding what will most benefit us based on those goals is the way to go.
At the same time, we should discuss with our gym owner if dropping the weights will be an issue – or consider going to a different gym if it will really provide a significant improvement to our explosive strength.