Should you bounce or reset the bar on a deadlift?
There are two methods of performing continual repetitions on a deadlift: one is to bounce the bar off the floor to come straight back up, the other is to place the bar on the floor and reposition each time.
You might have seen the bounce method in your local gym, as it usually creates a loud noise and is followed by a louder groan and a can of energy drink being chugged, but is this method driven by ego (and monster energy drink) or is there more behind the bounce than we know?
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning looked at the biomechanical differences between the two deadlifting methods to answer the question: should I bounce the bar or reset after each rep?
The study examined 20 active males using both styles of deadlift for 5 reps at 75% 1RM. The time to complete, total work, RPE, performance and joint stress were compared between the two.
It was found that the bounce method resulted in a faster time to complete lift and a lower RPE. Meanwhile, the reset method resulted in more work for the body and deeper joint angles.
This means that bouncing can allow for more reps to be done in a shorter amount of time, however, the decreased work the body has to do might be counterintuitive to strength gains.
On the other hand, the reset method allows for the movement to be performed with better technique, teaches the body to build up force in the bottom position of a deadlift and causes more mechanical stress to the body (a large contributor to muscle growth).
Therefore, it appears that there are more positives to resetting the bar after each repetition.
Not only will it help you achieve strength goals faster by working you harder, but it also encourages correct body positioning for the lift. The bounce method may be useful when attempting higher reps, where the faster time to completion will help minimise limiting factors to the lift (such as grip strength), however, the decreased load on the body and tendency to encourage poor form should discourage gym-goers from using it most of the time.
I have always taught the reset method to all my clients, as it is an easier way to learn the movement for beginners. This research further supports my decision by finally giving us evidence that people who bounce are skimping out on the toughest part of the lift, near the bottom.
I would be interested to see a study looking at the implications of the altered joint angles in regards to injury rate. I would bet that more injuries would occur when people are rushing their bounce reps as opposed to resetting back position, but that is pure speculation.
Want to see an example of reset reps?
Check out my client Dom smashing out a 100kg deadlift for 5 reps. Dom has only been training with me for a short time but has thrown himself at every challenge I've set him and then asked for more. This 100kg deadlift is only the start of his journey, his numbers have kept going up and I expect them to keep rising with his steady commitment.
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