Touch-and go-deadlifts are when you don't pause on the floor as you cycle through reps. On the other hand, reset deadlifts are when you bring the bar to a full stop in between each rep. You might see both of these styles being performed in the gym depending on the person.
So is touch-and-go or reset deadlifts better? Reset deadlifts are better because they develop more strength at the bottom end range of motion. They also allow people to focus on their set-up and start position, allowing for higher levels of consistency throughout the movement. Furthermore, if you're a competitive powerlifter, you'll be pulling from a dead stop in competition, so reset deadlifts will be more specific to the demands of the sport versus touch-and-go deadlifts.
In this article, I'm going to explain the three major reasons why you should be doing reset deadlifts over touch-and-go.
However, as I Googled this topic, I saw some pretty ridiculous claims on why people were advocating for touch-and-go deadlifts. So I'm also going to share some of these claims and I will argue why reset deadlifts can either achieve the same or better outcomes.
Please don't listen to the internet gurus who tell you that touch-and-go deadlifts are better.
Terminology: Defining Reset Deadlifts
Reset deadlifts simply mean that you're bringing the bar to a complete stop in between each rep.
Some people take their hands off the bar, stand up and walk away, then do a completely new deadlift set-up. This is similiar to ‘starting fresh' each rep where you're approaching the bar as if it's the first rep every time.
I actually don't advocate for this style of reset deadlifts because often people take too much rest in between reps. So instead of doing 3 reps, it's more like doing 3 mini sets of 1 rep. At some point, taking too much rest in between reps as you ‘reset' will be less effective.
The more effective way of doing reset deadlifts is when you pause on the floor as you cycle through reps, but without dropping the weight at hip height or taking your hands off the bar while in the bottom. This will ensure that you're not resting too much in between reps, but still getting the advantages of the reset deadlift.
Speaking of advantages, here are the three reasons you should be doing reset deadlifts.
1. Increased Strength With Reset Deadlifts
The bottom range of a deadlift requires sufficient strength from your quads to extend the knee and initiate the first portion of the lift. As well, there will be significant loading demands on your low and mid back as you brace and stabilize your spine to overcome any postural rounding.
By coming to a dead stop each rep, you are placing the greatest strength demands on your quads and spinal erectors to do their job to the fullest. If you touch and go each rep, the weight will bounce off the floor and assist the movement. In other words, your quads and back do less work because you're gaining momentum from the weight re-bounding.
While most people would consider this a benefit because you can lift more weight by doing less work, it's actually a crutch that only masks your less than optimal bottom position. If your quads and back aren't getting the strength demands at the bottom range, you're simply compensating for weak muscles.
Over time, the effects of doing touch-and-go deadlifts, and not developing adequate strength off the floor, will cause issues when you test your 1 rep max. If you're constantly used to getting a ‘bounce' off the bottom, there will be no bounce available when pulling a single rep.
You'll know if you have a bottom-end issue on deadlifts if you can double or triple your 1 rep max. To some, this might seem a bit odd, but for those who repeatedly use touch-and-go deadlifts, this phenomenon is something all too common.
Use reset deadlifts and develop the required strength off the floor.
2. Increased Technique With Reset Deadlifts
The technique in the bottom position will greatly increase your success at lifting the weight.
If either your body or bar is not in the right position as you initiate movement off the floor, correcting those deficiencies as you're already pulling will be extremely difficult. What you want to do is limit the amout of ‘adjustments' needed when you have momentum on the bar. At the point of executing the movement, you simply want to think about ‘pulling hard' rather than correcting any misaslignments.
Often a touch-and-go deadlift will cause inconsistencies with your technique in the bottom position. As you cycle through reps using touch-and-go, sometimes your hips might be higher or lower, or your back position might be more or less angled. Furthermore, the bar has a greater chance of swaying forward or back if it hasn't touched the floor in the proper place. As a result, it's much harder to be precise on where you want your body and position to be when the bottom range feels ”rushed”.
With a reset deadlift, you give yourself a moment to ensure the bar and your body are exactly where you want them to be before initiating the pull. In order to increase your technical competency, you need to be consistent with how you set-up and execute the movement. If each rep is slightly different because of any inconsistencies, then you don't get sufficient practice with the optimal movement pattern.
Use reset deadlifts and develop the required technique off the floor.
Read my guide on How to Fix Shins From Bruising During Deadlifts
Want to improve your deadlift technique?
3. Increased Specificity With Reset Deadlifts
For any competitive powerlifter, doing reset deadlifts will increase your chance of being successful in competition. The goal of doing a competitive deadlift is to lift as much weight as possible for 1 rep.
Lifting a single deadlift rep means two things:
First, it means that you don't have an eccentric range of motion to build tension through your muscles (like a squat or bench press).
Lowering the weight enables you to build tension, generate momentum, and employ the stretch reflex. When you perform multiple reps, the successive reps are usually easier because of the tension you’ve built on the eccentric phase of the preceding reps. As such, we need to develop the ability to generate force from a dead stop without the eccentric tension on our muscles.
Second, it means that you can't get a benefit from bouncing the weight off the floor as you would doing touch-and-go deadlifts.
If you can't get a bounce off the floor in competition, then training like you do will only compromise your efforts. Competitive powerlifters should strive to simulate meet conditions in training as much as possible. By doing reset deadlifts, you can practice visualization, set-up, breathing, and technique with each rep, but with a touch-and-go approach, you only get one shot on the first rep of each set.
Use reset deadlifts to mimic the conditions that you're going to be exposed to in a competitive powerlifting enviornment.
All The Reasons Why People Say Touch-And-Go Deadlifts Are Better (And Why I Disaagree)
So I've just given you three core reasons why you should implement reset deadlifts into your training program over touch-and-go.
However, as you'll read on the internet, there are many proponents of doing touch-and-go deadlifts. Most of these proponents give subpar reasons, which I'll now debunk one-by-one. As you'll see, it's not hard to do so.
False Claim #1: Reset Deadlifts Are Concentric Only
This claim is suggesting that a reset deadlift doesn't have an eccentric range of motion.
Concentric refers to the ‘up' phase. Eccentric refers to the ‘lowering' phase.
This would be true if the lifter dropped the barbell from hip height to the floor. While this is a style of reset deadlifts (typically used in Crossfit), you can still perform a reset deadlift by keeping your hands on the bar during the lowering phase. A reset simply means coming to a dead-stop on the floor each rep. So you can still have an eccentric range of motion using reset deadlifts.
False Claim #2: Touch-And-Go Deadlifts Allow For Better Grip Strength
This claim is saying that you get more ‘grip time' when you do touch-and-go deadlifts. Again, it's assuming that you're letting go of the bar at hip height and not holding onto the bar during the lowering phase. As I suggested, lifters should be holding onto the bar during the lowering phase, even in a reset deadlift.
Notwithstanding, grip is more a function of how you hold the bar (hook grip, mixed grip, or double overhand), where your hands are placed on the bar (narrow or wide), and whether or not you use straps. None of these things have anything to do with the style of deadlift.
False Claim #3: You Can Get More Time Under Tension Using Touch-And-Go Deadlifts
This claim suggests that if you do touch-and-go deadlifts that your muscles get more time under tension. However, time under tension is a matter of purposely going ‘faster' or ‘slower' through the range of motion. If you want to increase your time under tension, simply go slower on the way up or down.
For example, one person can be performing a touch-and-go deadlift, while another person can be performing a reset deadlift, and both can have the same time under tension if they lift with a 2-sec up and 2-sec down tempo.
One of the other major problems when doing touch and go deadlifts is that you might hit your knees when pulling the bar. Check out my article on How To Deadlift Without Hitting Your Knees.
False Claim #4: Touch-And-Go Gives You A Stretch Reflex
A stretch reflex is a bio-mechanical advantage whereby a muscle involuntarily contracts after it's been quickly stretched.
While it's true that you would get more of a stretch reflex if you didn't come to a full stop each rep, a stretch reflex is very hard to implement correctly during a touch-and-go deadlift anyways.
This is because it would require the lifter to lightly tap the ground without bouncing, but at the same time, without stopping. More often, people will ‘bounce the weight off the floor, but this has nothing to do with a stretch reflex, and more to do with trying to rebound the weight to change direction (a common deadlift mistake).
The reset deadlift will allow you to increase strength and technique in the bottom position far greater than the touch-and-go deadlift. Furthermore, if you're a competitive powerlifter, then the reset deadlift will allow you to ‘practice like you compete' by getting used to pulling from a dead stop.