Tip: Deficit Trap Bar Deadlift

Build your quads and improve your standard deadlift with this variation.

From a muscle-building standpoint, deficit pulls are a great way to hammer the quads. From a strength-building standpoint, they’re a great way to improve your deadlift if you tend to struggle with breaking the bar off the floor. After pulling from a deficit, regular deadlifts will feel like a breeze.

As good as these can be though, it’s important to note that you should only use a range of motion that you can manage safely while still maintaining a flat back. Put another way, only pull from a deficit if you have the requisite mobility to do so, and if you do chose to pull from a deficit, don’t go any higher than you can manage without rounding your back.

For me, that’s about 1-2 inches; anything more and it gets ugly. That height may seem negligible, but it makes a huge difference both in terms of difficulty (it’s way harder) and muscle recruitment (it’s more quad dominant).

That last point about the range of motion also applies to pulling from the high handles versus pulling from the low handles. I prefer the added range of motion of the low handles, but I have nothing against the high handles and actually prefer it for folks that can’t pull from the low handles with good form.

Realize though that it’s essentially two different exercises, so you’ll have to adjust your weights accordingly. I notice about a 5-6% difference myself (I’ve always been relatively fast off the floor), but for a lot of people it can be as high as 7-10%, so just bear that in mind and realize that you’re not really comparing apples to apples.