The Deadlift is an epic exercise, not just for the well-acquainted gym goer, but also for deadlifts.
Whether you are a beginner to deadlifting or need some simple cues to help your beginner clients… this step by step guide will be a game changer.[NOTE: make sure you watch the 2 videos below and follow the 8 hacks to mastering your deadlift technique]
Start with the deadlift, this is such an important lift to build upon and is one of the best for building total-body strength, size, and athleticism.
I believe the deadlift rules the gym!
Just one exercise and it will build muscle, burn fat, increase athleticism, maximise strength.
It is literally the king of the gym
The trouble is, I’m seeing a lot of newbies in the gym not executing the deadlift technique effectively, not getting the most out of each set and heading straight towards injury.
Let’s start with ‘WHY’ DEADLIFT?
As a full-body, compound exercise recruiting a lot of muscle fibres, the deadlift is able to contribute to massive training benefits in a shortened time frame.
Whether you are training for power, Strength, Hypertrophy or endurance, it’s unique involvement of A LOT of muscle fibres, means you get whole body development … in just one exercise.
It’s also one of the few exercises that directly targets the hamstrings, a group of muscles often neglected in the free-weight room.
Posture… Done correctly the Deadlift will improve posture, by activating the posterior chain.
Most of us spend our days in a triple-flexed position, over-working the muscles in the front of the body, making them tighter and tighter. Eventually our posture will get affected by the tight muscles and we end up with weak and inactive posterior chains.
Deadlifting engages the glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back and encourages our shoulder blades to retract backward. Posterior chain training balances the body, giving us cause to stand taller and greater potential in all of our movements.
Performed correctly, good Deadlift Technique will
#Correct poor posture
#Make you functionally strong
#Improve movement pattern, equalling less joint pain
#Increase muscle definition
#Improve strength in other exercises
#Make you feel powerful and almighty! (no seriously, I love the feeling of ripping a heavy weight off the ground)
Now, you’re probably eager to practice deadlifting but hang on a moment.
It’s important to master the basics first.
START WITH THE HIP HINGE
Check out the video of Hayley.. She goes through the hip hinge in relation to a kettlebell swing. The principle is 100% the same!
The conventional deadlift is a heavily loaded iteration of the hip hinge, which is a basic human movement pattern.
The hip hinge is just as it sounds… hinging at the hips. It’s not sitting down, but more like sitting back. The movement comes from your hips, not knees.
The vid below, shows how to get a hip hinge using a wall.
Line yourself up 1ft from the wall and aim to get your sits bones on the wall behind without bending your hips. It looks like a horizontal thrust. When you perform a good hip hinge, you maintain a neutral spine while loading the hips and posterior chain.
Learning to hinge before stepping up to a barbell enhances safety, because you are learning to engage the glutes for hip extension, instead of the low back and hamstrings. A much lower risk of back injury, and low-back muscle cramps.
So learn to hinge well before you deadlift! It can be really great to get a few kettlebell swings out as a warm-up, to really encourage good glute activation and less low back.
WHEN TO DEADLIFT
I always advice big demanding compound moves like the deadlift, to be done near the beginning of a workout.
Do a really thorough Warm Up , get the hip hinge activated and aim to go straight into Deadlift… building the weight up gradually.
Its loads safer doing these big lifts at the beginning – whilst your muscles are fresh, and your nervous system is energised and alert.
Proper recovery is key before and after your deadlifting session, it allows for gains in strength, endurance and size.
For an epic session, make deadlift part of a legs day, combining with other exercises that engage glutes, quads and hamstrings.
So let’s get down to business: Deadlift Technique
Key: the barbell MUST start on the floor… not in a rack.
✓The Deadlift starts with the barbell on the floor.
✓ Walk to the bar.
✓Stand with your mid-foot under the bar. Don’t touch it with your shins yet. Hip-width stance, toes out 15°.
✓Grab the bar. Narrow, about shoulder-width apart. Arms vertical from the front-view, hanging just outside your legs.
✓Bend your knees. Keep going until your shins touch the bar. Don’t move the bar.
✓Keep it over your mid-foot.
✓Lift your chest. Heart to the sky.
✓Straighten your back. Don’t move the bar.
✓Don’t drop your hips. Don’t squeeze your shoulder-blades.
✓Pull. Take a big breath, hold it and stand up. Keep the bar against your legs. Don’t shrug or lean back at the top.
✓You’ve finished your Deadlift when you’ve locked your hip and knees. Return the weight to the floor by pushing your hips back first.
✓Bend your legs once the bar reaches your knees.
✓Don’t bend your knees first or you’ll hit them with the bar. Rest a second then do your next rep.
✓Don’t bounce the weight off the floor, pull each rep from a dead stop.
So now you got the technique, all that’s left…. DO IT!
8 Deadlift Technique Hacks:
- Start off with a good thorough warm up…
- Practice your hip hinge…
- Activate the glutes…
- Then pick a lightweight (maybe just the oly bar, or add a 5kg bumper plate to the ends)
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar. Butt should be low, back straight…
- Build up the weight gradually!
- Consistency is key – be clear on keeping each and every rep consistent
- Whilst you are performing each move, check in with the posture/ technique cues above. Use the mirror or a buddy to help correct. Finally, think in, think about how the movement feels from the inside, as you perform it, it’s a great way to know you are focusing on the job in hand and also to check the technique FEELS right.
Give it a go, and comment below about how you got on with the Deadlift Technique hacks above.
Looking for more inspiration for training ideas, try these:
- Searching for Core Exercises: Understanding Core Training
- How to Warm Up Before a Gym Session
- 3 Body Weight Exercises that are just as effective as Burpess
Until Next Time
Neale “The Deadlift” Bergman