We’ve recently done a full guide on garage gym flooring and the main motivation behind it was that lifting heavy weights and more specifically, dropping weights will damage your floor. Gyms are designed to handle this activity and abuse to the flooring whereas homes do not come with the same level of protection!
Something that adds to this issue is deadlifting at home. Many people performing a deadlift will get noticeably stronger over time and you’ll soon find the barbell has more and more 45lb plates on either side. This is good for strength but not so good for your floor.
Therefore, precautions need to be made when deadlifting and in this article, we’ll explain how to stop deadlifts damaging your floor.
Should You Drop Deadlifts
Firstly, it’s important to quickly cover the deadlifting technique to understand why deadlifts can damage a floor in the first place. We’re not going to give form tips here but rather zoom in on the deadlift descent. There are two methods when it comes to a deadlift descent:
- Lower the weight under control
- Drop the weight
For experienced lifters, this choice is methodical. Once you get to a heavy deadlift weight, it becomes significantly harder (and more dangerous) to safely lower the weight in a controlled manner. This is most true when someone is testing their 1RM or 3RM (RM = rep max).
Dropping the weight allows lifters to focus on the concentric portion of the lift rather than lower the weight under control which is actually more taxing on the central nervous system and can take longer to recover from in between both sets and workouts.
Lowering a deadlift under control is done when training more for muscle hypertrophy and when using a lighter weight as a percentage of your 1RM.
Therefore, when training heavy on deadlifts, most people are going to drop the bar on completion of the lifting phase of the exercise.
Will Deadlifts Crack Concrete and Damage Flooring?
Now that we know dropping a deadlift is more common when using heavier weights, the issue becomes clearer as to why deadlifts can cause damage to the flooring in your home. When dropping a heavy deadlift from height, the impact – and subsequent repeated impact from more reps – is likely to lead to damage to both the floor, your barbell, and your weight plates.
There are some factors that will influence this and we’ll cover those shortly but as a general summary:
Deadlifts will crack concrete when dropping the barbell directly onto the floor. Not only will deadlifts damage concrete when the bar is dropped, but they will also damage hardwood flooring and tiled flooring as well. The damage caused to concrete will be in the form of cracks and chips on the surface.
Some of the factors will include the type (material) of weight plates that you use and also how much weight you are lifting but as a general observation, dropping a deadlift will crack concrete over time and could lead to damaged foundations to your home.
This is one of the main reasons why many commercial gyms don’t allow deadlifts.
This is the key reason why you need to have some preventative measures in place if you are going to deadlift in a home or garage gym.
It’s also important to note even when training in a commercial gym as you’ll find most gyms will have dedicated Olympic weightlifting and deadlifting platforms. This is because you are supposed to use these areas when doing any exercise that could damage flooring – like dropping deadlifts!
How to Stop Deadlifts From Damaging Your Floor
If you have hardwood floors of a concrete foundation, deadlifts are very likely to cause damage. For this reason, you should never deadlift directly on the floor.
The first step in ensuring the deadlifts don’t damage your floor is putting down protective mats in your workout area. You can purchase heavy-duty mats that are similar to what is used at the gym. Some people have even used horse stall mats to lay down in their home gym for floor protection.
However, you may want to take extra caution when keeping your floors safe. The best ways to stop deadlifts from damaging your floor are:
- Using power rack safety pins to eliminate contact with the floor
- Using bumper plates when deadlifting to absorb any shock and impact
- Deadlifting on a deadlift floor protector – usually a thick rubber mat
- Deadlifting on a dedicated deadlifting platform made from wood sheets and heavy-duty mats.
Let’s take a look at some other options for preventing deadlifts from damaging your floor.
1) Use a Power Rack
Is there a power rack with your deadlifts? If you do, you may notice that it has safety pins or straps. These can be very useful for preventing the deadlifts from touching the floor. Even if something causes you to drop the deadlifts while working out, the safety will prevent the deadlifts from hitting the floor.
This of course makes the lift a rack pull which is an exercise done with a limited range of motion but if you can set the pins to a low height, this could be enough to get enough benefit from a full range deadlift without risking damaging your floors.
I’ve listed this option first but most will only use this option as a last resort and it’s usually something people will need to consider when training in an apartment or on a second floor.
2) Use Bumper Plates for Deadlifts
Most home gym owners will deadlift using standard stainless steel plates. If you drop the bar with these steel plates, there is no protection for the floor. This is one of the reasons why switching to bumper plates is beneficial.
Bumper plates are made with a rubber that absorbs the shock when a barbell is dropped or placed down with force. This feature has saved a lot of floors from damage and it’s because bumper plates are designed to have a thicker width than regular iron plates and are made from heavy-duty rubber.
Both of these factors mean that bumper plates distribute the load on impact over a greater surface area (reducing the overall impact) and also absorb and dissipate the shock as well. This protects the barbell parts, flooring underneath, and even the weight plate itself.
We cover the pros and cons of bumper plates vs steel plates here.
3) Deadlift Floor Protector
Another option is to use a deadlift floor protector. Deadlift floor protectors are not a product name but rather another way of describing heavy-duty rubber mats. These rubber mats (similar to bumper plates) absorb the impact of a weight when dropped and also spread the impact over a greater surface area.
This reduces the impact placed in one specific place which is often the cause of damage to flooring from deadlifts as well as weight plates and barbells.
Can you Deadlift on Rubber Mats?
Arguably, one of the most common recommendations you’ll see online is that instead of investing in a deadlift floor protector, which is essentially a heavy-duty rubber mat, you should instead use horse stall mats.
Now, horse stall mats are oftentimes a popular budget option for garage gym flooring, however, they are not really fit for purpose. For deadlifting specifically though, horse stall mats can definitely be a useful and worthwhile option.
So, can you deadlift on horse stall mats? Yes, you can deadlift on horse stall mats. The thickness of the mat will play a significant factor in this but these heavy-duty mats provide enough cushion to absorb the impact from a dropped deadlift and can also help to protect your barbell, weight plates, and the floor underneath.
If you are worried that these suggestions may not be enough protection to keep your floors safe, there is also the option of using a deadlift platform or power rack platform. This is a great option because it’s relatively affordable and it will add to the aesthetics of your at-home gym.
It’s also worth mentioning that a deadlift platform is the best way to protect your floor from deadlifts!
The above methods are great for people who use their deadlifts at home occasionally. If you use your deadlifts nearly every day, then you should consider using a lifting platform. You can purchase a deadlift platform, or make one yourself if you want to take on a DIY project.
What Do You Need for a DIY Deadlifts Platform
Building your own deadlift platform is a simple project that can be completed in as little as 2 hours. You will need the following items to build a deadlift platform:
- 4 thick sheets of OSB (4′ X 8′ 3/4″)
- 1 thick sheet of smooth plywood (4′ X 8′ 3/4″)
- 2 thick horse stall rubber mats (4′ X 6′ 3/4″)
- Box of screws (1-1 1/4″)
- Tape measure
- Straight edge
- Box cutter
How to Make a Deadlift Platform
Use the following steps to build your own deadlift platform:
- Lay down one sheet of OSB and place a second one directly on top of it, making sure they are uniform.
- Repeat the first step with the remaining two sheets of OSB, perpendicular to the first set.
- You will now have two sets of OSB sheets. Screw the first set together with 10 screws, evenly placed. Once you are done this, repeat with the second set of OSB sheets. Make sure the sheets remain flush while you screw them together.
- With both OSB sheet sets placed beside each other, place the plywood directly in the middle, leaving 24 inches of room on each side.
- Using 10 screws, screw the plywood onto the OSB sheets.
- Once the plywood has been screwed in place, take additional measurements of each side of the OSB sheets. This is needed for the rubber mats.
- Now you will need to get the size of the rubber mats correct. Use the straight edge to measure the mats so you get four pieces that are 2′ X 4′. Once they are measured, you can use the box cutter to cut them to the right size.
- Line all 4 pieces evenly beside the plywood, on top of the OSB sheets. Once they are evenly in place, screw the mats on the OSB sheets.
- For additional reinforcement, use help to flip the platform over. Once you have the reverse side up, add an extra round of screws to the bottom. This will help to keep everything intact so your platform will have a longer lifespan.
Deadlifts are one of the greatest exercises that anyone can utilize. They build strength, power, speed, and muscle mass and alongside the squat, they are one of the most effective full-body exercises that you can use. The issue, however, is that they can easily damage your floor, especially once you start to lift heavier weights.
So, how do you stop deadlifts from damaging your floor?
A platform is an excellent way to keep your floors protected when you want to use deadlifts inside your home.
If you are not able to build a platform, you can still protect your floor with heavy-duty mats. One tip that a lot of at-home deadlifts users suggest is placing a sheet of plywood beneath the heavy-duty mats for an extra layer of protection over the floors.
Also, use bumper plates where possible and as a final piece of advice, unless you are an Olympic standard weightlifter, you don’t need to drop the weight when doing warm-up sets or primers. The weight used doesn’t warrant it and it will go a long way towards protecting your floor when deadlifting!