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Does it count as a set if you stand up after each repetition during deadlifts (to take a deeper breath and brace more properly) which also includes resetting your grip?

Background: I am training for powerlifting

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It's a deadlift, meaning the weight should be dead on the floor. Touch-and-go or otherwise bouncing around is not a deadlift.

Personally, I relax my grip and reset on every rep. My hands don't come off the bar, but I open my fingers, ensuring that the weight is indeed dead on the floor.

The extra second this adds to each set is negligible and the benefit to ensuring proper form far outweighs any loss. You also need to breathe between reps, and the bottom relaxed position is the perfect spot to dump the air in your lungs, get a nice breath, breath that out, then get another, hold it in, tighten the abs, get your chest up, and pull.

From Mark Rippetoe:

If you are working with enough weight that you need multiple breaths to get each rep, take them, but don't just stand there and pray that the next rep will be easier. If you need 2 or 3 between, take them.

So for those 2-3 breaths between reps, you have plenty of time to relax your grip, brace for your next lift, and make sure you're lifting clean.

If you're deadlifting near your 5RM, your biggest concern should be proper form. If that takes you 1 second, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds, take the time.

Regarding standing up in between, that might be a bit excessive, but if it's what you require to nail your form, then do it. For me, I don't want to get my hands off the bar and I want to stay mentally in dead-lift mode. When I stand up without a bar in my hand, I'm done with my set.

The problem I could see with standing up is that you are probably moving your feet as well, so you'll be fully resetting between each rep. If that's a net positive for you, causing you to have dialed in form, good breathing, and hit your numbers, then by all means stand up. But if standing up is a bit too much of a "break" as it is for me, then it might not be serving you well.

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  • How about standing up in between? I edited my question to include this. – Willi Mentzel Dec 23 '15 at 21:54
  • Updated for you. Great question, by the way. – Eric Dec 23 '15 at 22:04
  • So, there's no definite definition for a deadlift set? I ask because a friend and I were arguing about the way I do my set (how I described it). Basically he says it would be a greater achievement if I stick to the bar the whole time (in the bottom position of the dl after every rep). So, what I read, he is correct. Although I will continue doing it this way because it allows for best form and gives me more mental toughness. I cannot call it a (regular) set though :(. If I progress this way it is progress anyways. I'm training for powerlifting! Should have included that. :) – Willi Mentzel Dec 24 '15 at 23:37
  • Nope, no official definition since there's no sets in power lifting (competition anyway). I actually just watched a video of a fairly high level power lifter who advocates staying down in the crouched position, to keep the hamstrings tight and loaded between reps. But you definitely need to stop, breathe, make sure your form is good, and lift. That pause at the bottom needs to be enough to do all of that. If you hit your numbers and pull a lot off the ground via your training, it sounds pretty "proper" to me. – Eric Dec 25 '15 at 0:41
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John's answer is correct - all in all, it's hypertrophy (TUT) vs strength (rest).

I just wanna add that it's a matter of how long the stoppage lasts, and not the reason that made you stop (as long as you're remaining in the starting position). e.g. resetting your grip is equal to stopping for a breath.

There is no definition for how long the bar should lay on the floor between reps, but I'd say that the process of stabilizing yourself in the starting position and start getting up shouldn't take more than 2.5 seconds. Here's a very random example I found that represents a good resting time between sets (1.5-2 seconds). When you go really heavy, for a set of 2 or 3 reps, the resting time goes up to 4-5 seconds, as I saw in some pro's videos.

One last thing to mention, in competitions they perform 1 rep at a time, so for this subject your training habits don't matter.

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Yes, depending on your goals

Resetting your grip likely takes a bit of time, perhaps a few seconds, perhaps 10 or more. During this time, your hamstrings are (mostly) resting. This changes the results of the exercise somewhat.

From a hypertrophy standpoint, the more you are 'resting' between reps, the more you're losing a bit of Time-Under-Tension, which means the muscles will have a little bit less stimulus to grow.

From a strength standpoint, the more you rest the more muscle-fibers will be ready-to-fire, so you'll have more strength to pull with.

In other words, if you're taking enough time to reset your grip so that your 5x5 protocol is becoming more of a 1x25 protocol, it's going to change what you get out of your workout.

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