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Home » Exercises

How To Perform The Deadlift With Proper Technique

Submitted by on September 24, 2008 – 3:17 pmNo Comment

What is the Deadlift

The deadlift is a common power lift to strengthen the lower back, hamstrings, quads, gluts, grip and forearms. If you do not practice great form for the deadlift and start with light weight you can put yourself at risk of serious injury. Make sure to start slow with appropriate weight and focus on the technique that I will show you. When you’ve mastered the skill you can begin to increase weight and reap the benefits of one of the best workouts you can perform at the gym.

Benefits of the Deadlift

You will gain strength in your lower back and learn proper lifting technique in and outside of the gym. The deadlift will teach you how to keep a tight lower back while lifting and avoid arcing your back, this is how most lower back injuries occur.

Set up for the Deadlift

  • Pick the right weight to start your deadlift.
  • Have the bar over your feet and mid level of your shin. If you don’t have a 45 pound plate on the bar you may want to prop up the barbell by placing a weights under the barbell. This will heighten the level of the bar.
  • Avoid using any additional aids to help with the lift such as straps and weight belts. After using an aid your body relies on that help to perform the lift, restricting muscle growth and can cause injuries when you remove the aid.

Feet- Shoulder width apart at approximately a 30 degree angle. Lean back onto your heels for the lift, this will help keep a flatter back and allow for the best lift. If you seem to be having trouble try curling your toes up or placing a small weight under your toes forcing. This will force the weight to be on your heels.

Knees- should be at the same position as you feet and you should be leaning slightly forward so your knees are over your toes. Be cautious to stay on your heels while you lean forward.
The angle that is ideal for your knees is 90 degrees, because you are leaning forward will cause your hips to be above your knees and your knees over your toes.

Hips- You don’t want your hips too high or too low, they should be higher than the knees but barely.

Back- Your back is the most important part of the lift. If you round your back you need to fix this immediately. Before you start the rep take in a deep breath and hold it to keep sufficient air pressure against your spine to help though the rep. Squeeze you abs tight to also help keep your back firm.

Chest- Your chest should be pushed out and up. This will cause your shoulders to be pulled back. If this is not done your back will be rounded and you lift will not be strong.

Arms- Keep your arms locked out by tightening your triceps. With bend arms you will put unnecessary strain on your biceps and forearms risking injury.

Shoulders- Pull your shoulders back while keeping your back rigid. Your shoulder blades should be over the bar with your shoulders just in front of the bar.

Eyes- Look forward. Looking forward this will cause your chest to be pulled up, your shoulders back, and back straight.

The Lift Up

  • Start by approaching the bar and getting your feet set comfortably. The best position will be one that’s natural to you. By jumping a few times you feet will make a very steady base for the landing this will be the best foot positioning for you. Walk up and put your feet under the bar with your shins about an inch or two away.
  • Take a grip on the bar with your dominant hand over the bar and you opposing hand under. This will allow for the biggest lift, a double overhand grip will increase more grip strength but will be much harder with the initial get up of the bar.
  • Bring your hips down and your chest and head up. Begin the lift, keeping the bar as close to your body as possible. Avoid contact with the shins and knees as much as possible while keeping control of the bar. The bar should move up in a vertical line as this is the easiest route for the bar to get from the ground to the top of the lift.
  • The angle in your back should stay the same for the beginning of the lift. Your quads will do the work as your knees begin to straighten keeping the strain off your back. Once the initial lift has been accomplished drive your hips forward by contracting you hamstring and glut muscles. This will straighten the back with the back not doing any work.
  • Finish the rep with your body completely locked out standing straight with your shoulders back, chest up, and eyes looking forward.

The Lift Down

  • The setting down is the exact opposite of the lift. Start by bending your hips first get your chest over your knees before you squat down to the bottom of the rep. The hips will lower the weight to the knees, the knees will then take over bringing the bar down to the floor finishing the rep.
  • Keep your chest and eyes up while setting the bar down, an injury is just as common in the decent of the lift as the accent. Most lifters will round their back when setting the weight down rather than keeping proper form. You want to finish the rep in the exact position you started the rep in.
  • Keep the bar in close to your body when setting it down. This will force you to keep good form while avoiding injury.

Common Mistakes of the Deadlift

Hip Placement- Often lifter will have their hips started too low like in the bottom of the squat position. You have to remember this is a deadlift not a squat and your hips will always be above your knees. If you start with your hip too high this can be just as bad, with high hips you will be forced to round your back and put the post pressure on your back rather than your hips and legs.

Rounding the Back- When you round your back you’re spine is in its weakest position and with the force of the weight pulling down on it this is how long term injuries happen. By keeping your chest and eyes up and your shoulders back, you spine will be in a position that is safe and strong. Lift with your legs and hip while keeping your back straight and you will be able to lift the most and get the most gain.

Standing Tall- When you’ve finished the lift and are ready for the set down you want to stand tall with your shoulders back. Often lifters will stick their hips to far forward hyper-extending the spine, this can cause an injury just as easy as rounding your back. You want your spine straight thought the rep bending only your hips and knees.

Shoulders- The shrug is not a part of the dead lift, when you’re at the top of the rep don’t shrug the weight to work your traps, this can throw of the line of your back and put yourself in bad form when you’re ready to begin the decent of the bar. Some lifter will try to shrug the bar off the ground for the initial lift this is very wrong as it will round you back and ruin your form for the rest of the rep. the initial lift is with the legs followed by the hips, shoulders biceps and back are only stabilizers they should not be doing any of the lifting.

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