Five Ways to Increase Strength Off the Floor

Five Ways to Increase Strength Off the Floor

Strength off the floor is very commonly a limiting factor in individual’s deadlifts, cleans, and snatches. With these lifts, the “first pull”, from the floor to approximately when the bar is at the knee, sets the stage for the rest of the lift. If an athlete is weak off the floor, this could lead to either a missed deadlift attempt or encourage poor positioning for a second pull on an Olympic lift. The following five lifts with provide great assistance to increase strength off the floor.


Deficit Deadlifts

Deficit deadlifts increase the difficulty of the deadlift by making the lifter start with the barbell lower than its typical starting position. This starting point puts you at a biomechanical disadvantage and you must work and think much harder about maintaining proper pulling alignment.



Speed Deadlifts

Speed deadlifts are an excellent exercise to increase efficiency off the floor. While building raw strength should ALWAYS be a priority, learning how to accelerate and develop power is also important. What way to better learn how to develop power and speed off the floor than actually performing the EXACT lift you’re trying to improve? Additionally, because a much lighter weight is needed for speed deadlifts, you can train them very frequently. This is a great way to perfect your form and get a training effect without beating yourself up.



Paused Snatch Deadlift

The pause snatch deadlift combines two powerful deadlift changes to improve your pull from the floor. First, the snatch grip increases the range of motion you must pull through by starting you in a lower position (much like a deficit deadlift). Up next the pause just off of the floor seriously increases the spinal control you must develop to keep good positioning.


Paused Safety Bar Squats

A strong pull off the floor requires a combination of leg, back, and core strength and the paused safety bar squat nails all three. With this squat variation, the load is placed pretty high up on the back, causing the upper back to work very hard to avoid rounding forward…a KEY component in the deadlift. The safety squat bar and its placement also provides some degree of instability during the lift, requiring good core control and recruitment to stabilize the load as well. Due to the relatively vertical torso angle, you can go pretty deep on these, crushing the quads, another muscle group imperative for a strong first pull.  


Pull The Slack Out of the Bar

If I had to give one master cue to help promote strength off the floor, it would be to pull the slack out of the bar. Speed off the ground is certainly important; HOWEVER, it must be something that is ramped up! Here’s why. Depending on how much weight is on the bar, and the type of bar you are using, upon applying force via the initial pull, the bar will MOVE before the weights come off the ground! Speed should NOT be applied until this slack is taken out! Taking slack out of the bar encourages full body tension to help enhance force transfer and reduce the risk of injury! Get tight FIRST, take the slack out of the bar, THEN apply speed for an efficient pull!

Is getting the bar moving off the floor your limiting factor? Use these 5 tips to help increase strength off the floor and break some PRs!


Co-Written With Dr. Michael Mash of Barbell Rehab  

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