If you deadlift at least 3 plates, you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to add or remove plates from the barbell, especially after completing a heavy set.
You have to bend down and awkwardly lift one side of the bar just off the floor while simultaneously trying to slide the plate on or off the bar, inevitably struggling as you drag the plate against the floor…
…Many a finger have been pinched in this tedious endeavor.
Luckily, there’s an invention to bypass this time- and energy-consuming process: the deadlift jack.
Regular Deadlift Jacks Aren’t For Everyone
If you have a home gym and got some money to spare, I’d recommend investing in either a mini deadlift jack or a full-size deadlift jack. Or, if you’re the handyman type with the right tools, you can save some money and build your own – see this and this.
However, if you go to a commercial gym, chances are they don’t have one. You could get a mini deadlift jack and bring it with you, but that costs upwards of $60 and is still a bit cumbersome to carry in your gym bag.
In this post, I’ll give you two deadlift jack alternatives: one is free and gets the job done good enough, and the other is cheap but works better.
Note: Some people rack the bar on the outside of a squat rack after every set to add or remove plates. However, this requires walking with a loaded barbell. If you’re using weight that’s heavy for you, this is both dangerous and a waste of energy. Don’t do this unless it’s only for your light sets.
No Deadlift Jack? No Problem. Here’s 2 Alternatives
#1: Makeshift Deadlift Jack Alternative – Price: $0
Put a small plate (2.5 lb or 5 lb) on the floor and roll the barbell on top of it. Try to put only the first one or two 45 lb plates on top of the small plate.
This lifts the bar up just enough so that you can easily slide the plates on and off. The only downside is that the bar will sometimes roll off the small plate.
As of the time of writing this post (July 2014), this is my go-to method for loading/unloading plates on deadlifts.
#2: The “Dead Wedge” Deadlift Jack Alternative – Price: $10
The “Dead Wedge” is an innovative little product from LIFT. It kind of looks like a rubber door stop.
It has a ramp to roll the barbell onto and raise the plates off the floor, and a groove that holds the first 45 lb plate in place while you load/unload the others.
This is basically the same process as elevating the barbell onto a small plate (as described in #1 above). However, the wedge makes the process a bit more seamless, and there’s no chance of the bar moving around or rolling off the wedge.
Whether this added bit of efficiency is worth $10 is up to you.