Q. At the start position of a deadlift should your elbows be locked?
A. Yes. A good cue is to think of your arms like ropes and your hands like hooks. The arms should stay locked and straight during the entire exercise. There is no point during the deadlift where the elbows will need to bend.
Q. What point should you explode?
A. In essence, the deadlift is considered a grind lift – which means slow, but this applies to weights near your 1 RM (repetition maximum). As you warm up to say a heavy set of 5, the lighter sets will move faster off the floor than the latter heavier sets – makes sense because the weight is lighter. You can still cue yourself to explode off the floor, but because of the heaviness of the weight, it will just move slow – but your intent is to move it fast off the floor. There is a Dynamic Effort method of doing deadlifts called Speed Deadlifts. Speed Deadlifts train the explosiveness off the floor. The weight used for speed deadlifts is approximately 60% of your 1RM.
Q. Do you recommend resetting or touch and go deadlifts?
A. It depends on the load. I recommend touch and go deadlifts (with FULL control) when the weight is light, but as it gets heavier, I recommend pause and go – this allows you to reset your position so you can be in the most optimal position to pick up the bar (safety is also increased). You will still get full benefit from the deadlift during the pause and go method.
Q. Floor or rack? And why?
A. Rack pulls or partial deadlifts shorten the range of motion. This will be helpful for people who have a difficult time finding the range of motion getting in the correct deadlift position when the bar is on the floor.
Rack pulls are great for beginners trying to learn the deadlift for the first time because there is less chance for performing it incorrectly. The hip hinge is the primary movement that happens in a deadlift. The rack pull will strengthen this movement in beginners and it will also strengthen it in advanced lifters. Advanced lifters can use the rack pull to improve their deadlift off the floor, when performed during different phases of their training. Because the range of motion is less, more weight can be added to the bar. If straps are not used, grip strength will also be strengthened.
I hope that clears things up.