Try Dead Stops for Strength Training

Credit: Rich Froning

Liftin’ with 100% of your muscles.

The first rep of a bench press set is always the trickiest, even if it’s the very first thing you do. The reason it gets progressively easier is that you build up momentum with your lifts, plus your adrenaline starts pumping. During that first lift, you don’t have any momentum to shoulder the burden; it’s just you and your muscles starting from a zero point. This is known as a “dead stop,” and if you want strength training, these’ll really kick your butt.

So how does a dead stop work? It’s actually pretty simple: all you have to do is pause for a few seconds at the bottom of a lift. Doing this will completely stop your momentum. That might not sound so great, but doing that means you’re using 100% of your own muscle for subsequent lifts, no momentum or stretch reflex.

By using dead stops, you can actually get an equally good workout from using a lighter load than you normally would. You can put some beef on your bones while lightening extra stress on your joints.

So what are some exercises you can incorporate dead stops into? The first and best choices would be deadlifts and bench presses, though you can also do them with things like box squats, pull-ups, and ring dips. Pretty much any two-stage exercise can have a dead stop in it.