Exercise of the Week: Isometric Deadlift

March 2, 2011

The Isometric Deadlift—a variation on the Deadlift—develops lower body strength rapidly.

Different from the standard Deadlift, the Isometric Deadlift places you in a split-stance position with your rear foot elevated, activating the quads, glutes and hamstrings similarly to game-time conditions. Instead of moving to a standing position, you drive up until the barbell reaches the stops, then continue contracting your lower body muscles as hard as possible.

Isometric contraction [i.e., a contraction where the length of the muscles does not change] works the muscles for longer periods of time to fully engage their strength-producing capacity. This results in rapid strength gains through muscle and nervous system adaptations.

According to University of Minnesota hockey strength coach Cal Deitz, who created the Isometric Deadlift, "Everyone hates it, but [my athletes] know it's one of the best exercises for getting them strong. I’ve seen athletes change their entire running form when they run agilities, because they are stronger within two weeks. I’ve never seen athletes get better faster from any other lift."

The Isometric Deadlift is a valuable training tool, but it should not be the focus of your training program. Instead, perform functional lifts, which closely resemble athletic movements [learn more about the advantages of functional training here].

Check out the video above for more info on the setup for the Isometric Deadlift.

  • Assume split-stance with right leg forward on ground, rear leg resting on box or bench, and barbell directly under hips
  • Lower to grasp barbell
  • Forcefully contract quads and glutes to raise bar against stops
  • Maintain front knee at 90-degree angle, holding position for specified time
  • Lower to starting position, perform set on opposite leg

Sets/Reps: 3x7-10 seconds hold each leg; rest 90-120 seconds

 

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
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