The unusual exercise you’re not doing to improve your deadlift technique

Have you heard of the floating deadlift?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to improve your deadlift? Of course you do! Who doesn’t want to be pulling more weight plates either side of that barbell? After all, more weight means more gains. There are lots of different deadlift variations that can help with this, but one variation that you probably haven’t heard of is the floating deadlift. 

I’ll admit, this deadlift sounds a lot more snazzy than what it actually is. But, I’ve been doing these consistently for the past month now and each week I’ve either added more weight, or another rep to my conventional deadlift.

The floating deadlift looks very similar to a deficit deadlift. To do one, you stand on a weight plate and perform your normal deadlift. But, instead of taking the barbell all the way to the floor (like you would with a deficit deadlift), you pause it at your shins, so the bar is hovering, or ‘floating’, above the floor. 

This will help to build your pull strength from the floor, which is often the part of the movement that people struggle with the most. Because you also don’t get the chance to reset at the bottom of the lift (as you would with a deficit deadlift) your leg and glute muscles are placed under even more tension. Again, this won’t only help you when it comes to breaking the bar from the floor, but it’s also great for strength and hypertrophy too. 

Try adding them to your next deadlift day and that barbell will be flying off the floor in no time.

How to do a floating deadlift

You can either stand on a weight plate or wooden block to perform the floating deadlift. Try and start with three sets of 6 to 8 reps, followed by a 1 second pause at the bottom. Once you get more comfortable with them, you could always increase the pause to 2-3 seconds. Don't have a barbell or weight plates? You can still do this exercise using a pair of dumbbells.

Here's how to perform the floating deadlift: 

  • Stand on a weight plate or small block
  • Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, with your shins about an inch away from the barbell
  • Bend down and place your hands on the barbell outside of your shins, keeping your back straight and shoulders over the bar slightly
  • Inhale, brace your core and twist your elbows in slightly to engage your lats
  • Drive through your feet and glutes to push the floor away from you and keep the bar close to your body, before locking out at the top
  • On the way back down, pause the bar a few inches off the floor, keeping it close to your shins
  • Hold it here for 1-2 seconds before driving upwards again
Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.