Should You Lower The Bar Slowly On Deadlift?

romanian DL
November 7, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “should you lower the bar slowly on deadlift?”. This is a controversial topic that divides opinion. There are those who believe that lowering the bar slowly is pointless.

Others believe that there is merit to doing this. I will explore both sides in detail and make my own recommendation at the end. 

Should You Lower The Bar Slowly On Deadlift?

If you are a powerlifter and want to move maximum weights in your session when doing rep work, I don’t believe there is any merit to lowering the bar slowly.

I believe you should lower the bar under control, but not excessively slowly. Lowering very heavy weights too slowly can tax your lower back more and increase the injury risk.

However, there are also benefits to lowering the bar slowly. Pete Rubish, who is a well known powerlifter, now subscribes to this approach. He believes a weak lower back is holding a lot of people back in their deadlift.

Lowering the bar slowly can strengthen your lower back and stabiliser muscles. It should be said that the romanian deadlift is highly effective in doing this, so it isn’t necessary to lower your normal deadlifts too slowly.

At the end of the day, it is a personal choice. If you start doing this then you should continue with it long term as a habit and part of your training practices.

Lower Fast To Move The Most Weight

Lowering the weight fast on the deadlift is conducive to being able to handle the most weight on your deadlift sets. This is because lowering the bar slowly taxes you more and makes your muscles work harder overall.

When I used to perform heavy deadlifts every week I would work up to a heavy set of 5 reps. I would lower the bar fast on the way down – this is because the main aim of a heavy deadlift is the concentric portion. Picking a heavy weight off the floor is the primary objective.

If you expend too much energy lowering the bar very slowly after each rep, this will induce more fatigue and make heavy sets harder for you. This is the argument for not lowering deadlifts slowly.

At the same time you shouldn’t drop the bar at the top of your deadlift. There is a good article by Arkitect Fitness about why dropping the bar is a no no. You can read it here.

Views Of Pete Rubish

I am now going to bring up the recent views of Pete Rubish on this topic. Pete was one of the strongest deadlifters in the world in his prime, with a deadlift of over 900lbs.

I have interviewed him before on this site and you can read the full interview HERE. For many years when he was younger Pete was known for his reckless abandon in the weight room.

He would drop heavy weights on deadlifts with great force and do high bar squat sets that were suicidal. He trained with an intensity that is rare to find. It is interesting to note that Pete has now changed his views and subscribes to the notion of lowering weights slowly.

The argument for controlled negatives is presented in the video below by Pete Rubish. He says that controlling the bar on the way down can improve lower back strength and take your deadlift to the next level.

Notice that he isn’t lowering the bar painfully slow, just under control. In my view, lowering the bar painfully slowly is very dangerous, especially when the weights are very heavy. 

Noise Reduction

Something that often gets overlooked is the noise that heavy deadlifting makes in a gym. When you lower the bar very fast with heavy weights, there will be more noise than if you lowered it more slowly.

If you train in a hardcore gym then it doesn’t matter much. Those gyms have no problem with people deadlifting heavy and making lots of noise. However, commercial gyms are often a lot stricter.

I have trained at commercial gyms in the past where there were very strict rules regarding dropping weights on deadlift. You would get a warning for this. Therefore, lowering the bar slowly and under control can help to reduce noise.

This is something to consider if you currently workout in a commercial gym where there are restrictions. In some places you almost feel like a criminal lifting heavy.

The university gym that I trained at when I was younger had very strict rules. They didn’t allow chalk, so many of us would go to the toilet to apply chalk secretly and try not to get caught. At the time it was very funny.

RDLs Will Work Your Stabilisers Anyway

One of the benefits that is brought up of lowering deadlifts slowly, is the increased work placed on the lower back and stabiliser muscles.

However, there is already an exercise called the romanian deadlift. This exercise is specifically designed to emphasis the concentric lowering portion. The idea is to lower the bar slowly whilst keeping your lower back tight and feeling a stretch in the hamstrings.

The romanian deadlift is highly effective at strengthening the entire posterior chain and bulletproofing your lower back. Therefore, if you train the RDL consistently, it negates the benefits of lowering your normal deadlifts more slowly.

romanian DL

Recovery Issues

One big problem with lowering weights slowly on the deadlift as opposed to lowering fast is the fatigue. The extra work that you are doing on the negative with very heavy weights can hinder your recovery.

If you are doing very heavy sets of deadlifts, it already takes a good week to recover from for most people. By lowering the bar very slowly you are increasing the recovery time.

This is an important point to consider. When I used to deadlift very heavy, I only deadlifted once a week. Each week I would work up to heavier and heavier sets of five. Occasionally I would incorporate a rack pull or deficit deadlift. 

Final Thoughts

Should you lower the bar slowly on deadlift? Having examined the points for and against, I would say that for most people it is unnecessary. This is particularly true if you deadlift very heavy.

If you train in a bodybuilding style with sub maximal weights then lowering the bar under more control can help you to activate more total muscle and strengthen your lower back further.

If you perform deadlifts at over 80% of your 1RM regularly, I would recommend lowering fast on your normal deadlift and maybe incorporating romanian deadlifts into your routine to get the same benefits.

Overall, it is a personal choice whether you choose to lower the bar slowly on deadlifts. One thing I would actively discourage is lowering the bar far too slowly on the way down. The risks of injury doing this are too great with heavy weights.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Do Romanian Deadlifts Increase Flexibility?

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