There are very few exercises that stimulate multiple growth like the Deadlift can.
It is one of the main exercises used as a benchmark of overall strength, simple to execute and a big strength and mass builder when used correctly. Unfortunately, it is also one of the exercises I see performed incorrectly more times than any other in the gym.
On a number of occasions I have even felt the need to intervene before a serious injury occurred.
Below, i’ve split this King Strength Builder into 8 easy to highlight steps, that will have you well on your way to perfecting your deadlift.
The Set Up
Stance – Stand with feet slightly narrower than shoulder width, with the bar over the middle of the feet. Note that I said feet, not trainers. Feet can be angled out slightly. This will allow you to establish a better back angle.
Grip – How you decide to grip the bar is up to you. An overhand grip is used by the majority of people, however be careful that you are not rounding the shoulders excessively in this position. Remember that you are trying to retract the shoulder blades as you lift. I am not a big fan of the split grip (one-hand over, one-under) as I feel this puts the body in a misaligned position. I have recently had some great results with clients using an underhand grip as this almost automatically puts the shoulders in a retracted position, however this can be difficult to achieve, especially with a large amount of weight on the bar.
Shins to Bar – Now bend the knees until the shins touch the bar. The bar should be over the middle of the feet, with shoulder blades directly above the bar. This should help establish the correct back angle for the lift.
Neutral Neck – Taking a deep breath, take the tension of ther bar. Maintaining neutral alignment in the neck, lift the chest and pull your shoulder blades back and down, looking forward at a point roughly 15-18 feet infront of you. This will allow you to gauge your body position throughout the movement.
Raising The Bar
Scrape the Shins – Pushing your heels through the floor, lift the chest, pulling the bar upwards in a smooth motion, maintaining its proximity to the body. Be ready to suffer some shin scraping.
Hip Drive – Once the bar has passed the knee, drive the hips through & the chest forward as you pull the shoulders back. Some people may feel the benefit of using the lats to pull the bar upwards towards the waist. Hyper extension of the hips is unnecessary, locking out is the aim. Try to maintain the deep breath as this will support the back and core.
Lowering The Bar
Go With The Flow – The eccentric (lowering) part of the movement will be performed much quicker than the lifting part. Lower the bar by pushing the hips back and when the bar reaches the knee, start to bend the knees. Don’t try to control the weight too much, just go down with it. You may need to put mats down to save the floor if the gym you’re using frowns on that sort of thing or rubber plates aren’t available.
Chest Up – Keep the chest up and your focus forward as this will stop you from rounding the back, which is better for you.
Hints & Tips
*Tip 1 – When deadlifting, use flat soled shoes such as Converse Chuck Taylors, boxing shoes or as a last resort, bare foot like. This will allow you the proper stability when pushing through the heels.
*Tip 2 – Avoid using wrist straps where possible. Relying on wrist straps will not only take away the added grip strength benefits, but will also place stress on the wrists where the straps dig in and can cause nerve damage if you’re not careful. Save the straps for big Personal Best efforts or if your grip has truly gone.
*Tip 3 – Need some added grip? Chalk up!
Climbing chalk or powerlifting chalk will reduce moisture on the skin, which is how calluses form. If your gym doesn’t allow the use of chalk, your gym sucks & you should trade up!
Deadlifting is a great exercise for adding size and strength, but despite its benefits, it is also an exercise where great care should be taken as it is easy to become injured when not performed correctly. It is always advisable to warm up thoroughly before attempting heavy lifts and to ensure the correct form is maintained. Instead of using a mirror to gauge your position, ask a training partner to watch your form.
Liked this? Why not check out this article on The Squat!