Updated in 2023 with current product suggestions and general edits.
We all love deadlifts, and we all hate them. They are effective, are crazy hard, feel great, and feel horrible.
Mitigating the particularly annoying part of the lift by having an easy way to load weight plates on the floor is a good thing.
Here are your options for easy methods and small portable devices to help you with the task in your home gym.
Table of Contents
Method #1 – The One Handed Dead
This is the most obvious and most troublesome method. It’s what you have to do before you figure out something better. You stick a plate into position at the end of the sleeve as best you can, then lift the bar with one hand while sliding the plate on with the other hand.
An intermediate lifter can do this for the second 45lb plate on each side. The third plate isn’t as fun.
A word of caution: You can injure your back doing this. To stay safe, heed Rip’s advice in this video regarding foot placement and spinal rotation.
Method #2 – Rolling onto a 2.5lb or 5lb Plate
You have to keep the small plate under ONLY the first 45lb plate, and that doesn’t give it much room before it wants to roll off. It sounds good until you try it and find out it doesn’t balance that great. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have the right shaped plate.
Method #3 – Folded up Sweaty Towel
You brush your teeth, wear deodorant, and shower daily, right? Being the considerate person you are, you also have a gym towel. I’m certain of that. Even in your personal home gym, you have one handy, because you’re not a slob. Fold it up and stick it under the first plate. All you really need is a few millimeters.
This works well for loading the second plate. For more plates it starts squishing more and gets more tricky.
Rolling the plate onto a leather lifting belt, if you have one, makes a good alternative to a towel.
Method #4 – An Actual Deadlift Bar Jack
Jacking the bar up by the shaft makes sense. Leverage is an amazing thing. All that weight just goes away. This jack gives you the same feeling as ringing a bell to have the waiter bring you a snack as you’re lounging on your beach chair in the sand with some important drink in your hand. It’s that easy.
Normally the only kind of jack most of us ever have opportunity to use is a tire jack as we’re stranded on the roadside, or, hopefully, practicing it in our garage before that ever happens.
A car jack you’ll get from the auto parts store isn’t the right shape on top to keep the bar from rolling off, and it doesn’t protect the bar’s finish. It’s a heavy piece of equipment that’s kind of silly just to lift up a barbell a tad bit. You should feel ridiculous using it.
A company called Kleva Built makes the Genesis Jack, a small steel barbell jack with plastic inserts to protect the bar and your lifting plaform. Stick the opening onto your bar shaft, set the foot on the floor, and pull the handle to lift your barbell plates just off the floor. It has gotten a lot of good reviews.
For a better price, Micro Gainz makes the Jacked Stand, a wooden deadlift jack that looks cool and has a user-friendly long steel handle. Being softer than steel, the wood don’t damage your bar’s well-kept knurl. They make another version with a larger receiver to fit 2″ bars like hex bars.
Method #5 – Dead Wedge
Dirt cheap, and effective!
It’s just a piece of well-shaped high density rubber. Small enough to put literally anywhere, and an easy color to spot on black rubber flooring.
This makes the larger jacks look a little over-the-top. With this you roll the first plate onto the wedge and it stays right there in the saddle.
The downside with this wedge is you’re on your own to get the first plate on each side. It only helps you load subsequent plates. For weaker lifters who are struggling to deadlift 150 lbs, loading the first 45lb plates from the floor is awkward. One of the other jacks above will be your best friend.
The Dead Wedge is what I use. I actually sit the bar on safety arms on the front of my rack, load the first plates, then move it to the floor to start warmups and load the remaining plates with the Dead Wedge. You can toss the thing across the room when you’re done. I prefer equipment I can toss.