Tip: Tension and the Paused Deadlift

This accessory lift teaches you to maintain tension, and it increases time under tension during most lifters' weakest phase of the deadlift.

For deadlifting, it’s still important to use accessory work to address any technique flaws or weaknesses you may have.

If I find athletes are still having a hard time maintaining tension (lats on) off the floor, I’ll add some pause deadlifts to their plans. This forces them to stay engaged and also to increase time under tension during a phase of the lift where they’re weakest.

For programming, it can look something like this, using 55-70% of your 1 rep max:

  • First Week: 3×3-5 – 1 second pause, 2-3 inches off the floor on the way up.
  • Second Week: 2: 3×3-5 – 2 second pause, 2-3 inches off the floor on the way up.
  • Third Week: 3×3 – 1 second pause, 2-3 inches off the floor on the way up AND down (cue evil strength coach laugh here).
  • Fourth Week: 3×3 – 2 second pause, 2-3 inches off the floor on the way up AND down.