How To Do Deadlift Properly And Safely.

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how to do deadlift properly and safely.

The Deadlift is regarded as one of the best compound exercises you can perform to get strong and build muscle. 

Whether your goals are to increase athleticism, build a impressive physique or just to get really strong. The Deadlift is a must do lift for all lifters. From the novice to the advanced lifters.

 But it is important to first learn how to do it right.

How To Do Deadlift Safely.

If you have ever looked through exercise fail montages you’ll see countless people doing their best impersonation of a angry cat as the force the barbell up their legs. Obviously avoid this. Every time you deadlift you should focus on clean technique with solid liftin ques. 

Good form will reduce risk and distributes the stress the lift causes evenly across the body rather than placing a severe load into a specific area. The weakest link of the form. 

Good form also allows you a boost in performance. Making the right muscles work when you want them to. With good form the bar moves in the most efficient path and get better results

Benefits of Deadlifting.

The Deadlift is quite possibly the movement that works the most muscle groups in one exercise. This exercise directly works your hamstrings, quadriceps, Gluteals and lower backs. As well as using muscles such as your Abdominals, Shoulder, Traps and Lats as stabilizers. 

The deadlift is regarded as one of the best exercises to build overall strength and muscle mass. Not only drawing the attention of body builders but also people wanting to boost their metabolism by having more muscle mass, slow or prevent muscle loss due to age or practice injury prevention by bullet proofing your posterior chain. 

Deadlift Is A Hip Hinge.

The deadlift is a basic exercise but needs to be looked at carefully to avoid injury.

The deadlift is simply a heavy load hip hinge and just like the squat is a strong, basic human movement pattern.

Hip hinging is exactly as it sounds. You Break at the hips and create a hinging motion. Do not think sitting down but sitting back.

The movement comes from and is focused in the hips. your Hips go back as the bar descends and you push your glutes forward to stand up.

When you are performing the ideal hip hinge aim to maintain a neutral spine with loading your hips and posterior chain. 

To Obtain the hinge try standing close to a wall with your back facing it. arch your lower back, slightly bend the need and sit back into the hinge of the hips until your glutes touch the wall.

Credit to Tom Bumgardner.

Learning how to properly perform the hinge, loading the posterior chain and keeping a neutral spine before even touching a barbell to deadlift will make your lift stronger and more importantly safer.

How To Do A Deadlift Properly.

Now that we have finished describing what a deadlift is it is time to break down how to do a deadlift safely and properly.

The proper form for a deadlift:

  1. Step up to the barbell with your mid-foot directly under the bar.
  2. Feet should be spaced hip-width apart.
  3. Bend at the hips and grab with bar with roughly a shoulder-width grip.
  4. Bend at your knees until your shins touch the bar.
  5. Lift your chest and straighten your lower back (Think. “Proud Chest.”)
  6. Take a big breath into your belly, push your belly out, hold it.
  7. Stand up with the weight. (Imagine pushing the earth away with your feet).
  8. Bar should maintain contact with the legs the entire range of motion.
  9. Hold at the top for a second maintaining lockout.

To bring the weight down under control you want to reverse the motion using a hip hinge push your hips back with a slight knee bend. keep the bar in contact with your legs. As the weight passes your knees you can bend your legs more to lower the weight to the floor.


Credit to MensHealth.

Mistakes To Avoid While Deadlifting.

Seeing how deadlifting can be one of the more complicated compound movement, with a lot of moving parts, there are quite a few mistakes that can happen. 

The most common problems faced when deadlifting are: 

Back Rounding.

The most common problem you will see in any gym when you look at the deadlifting platform is the rounding of the back.

Rounding the back. Especially the lower back. Can be dangerous for your back. Rounding compromises you ability to stabilize your body and focuses tension into the spine. This strain can directly result in a herniated disc or “Slipped Disc.”

 Pulling a deadlift can also limit your strength production and minimize force transfer from your lower body to upper body. 

So rounding your back is not only dangerous but less effective.

How To Avoid It:

Maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift as best as possible and maintain body awareness to minimize changes in your posture during the deadlift.

Good cues to remember to maintain posture is to:

“Puff Out Your Chest.” Doing this cue pinches the shoulder blades together and down, locking up the shoulders and upper back.

“Brace Your Core.” Taking in a large amount of air into your stomach, pushing out your muscle in 360 degrees around your midsection. performing a brace on any difficult compound exercise aids in the protection of your lower back and provides your own lifting belt as well as training abs.

If you find yourself having trouble maintaining a solid brace during the deadlift you may need to. Train abs directly more or Lower the weight and build back up with a good brace.

Avoiding Lockout.

As with any exercise shortening the range of motion can reduced the effectiveness of the chosen exercise. When Deadlifting this often happens at the top position of the lift.  

When you avoid the lock out position you are drastically reducing the muscle recruitment for the lift. Muscles such as the glutes are fully contracted in the top position of the deadlift. Also while in lockout the majority of the back muscles show a high level of activation.

When you avoid the lockout you also effect the transition between the concentric and eccentric portion or the lift. Breaking up this movement makes it more difficult to maintain proper form and can make the eccentric portion less controlled and increase risk of injury.

How To Avoid It:

Simple solution is to making sure you complete every deadlift in a completed lockout position. Stand upright with your shoulders back and down and glutes fully contracted. Imaging you are trying to turn a lump of coal into a diamond and SQUEEZE.

Bending Your Arms.

Maintaining straight arms during a deadlift is the safest and strongest way to perform a deadlift. Using straight arms allows you to recruit the entire musculature of the arms to support gripping the weight.

Pulling the bar with bent arms has several limiting factors. bending your arms limits strength and increase instability while also put the biceps under severely  increased stress while in a weakened position. This position often leads to a strain or bicep tear.

This is the biggest drawback of using a mixed grip while performing a deadlift. Though using a mixed grip aids in grip strength as opposed to double overhand grip. The palm up arm often has a slight bend in it. This causes a higher risk of injury.

How To Avoid It:

Muscles Worked Doing The Deadlift.

The Deadlift is a compound exercises where very few muscles don’t get directly or indirectly worked. 

The Main Muscles Worked Are:


The Hamstrings are one of the primary movers of deadlifts as the deadlift is a hinge based lift. They are completely stretched in the bottom position and reach peak contraction at the top position. The hamstring are responsible for both hip extension and knee flexion. Both actions worked heavily in a deadlift.


The glutes are the most underactive and frankly weak muscle in most adults possibly only being beat out by the erector spinae.

The glute muscles are one of the m

ajor muscles used in hip extension. So they are heavily recruits while performing the deadlift. Making sure to fully lockout the deadlift will guarantee full contraction of the Glute muscles.

Spinal Erectors.

Another of the major muscle groups worked in a deadlift is the Spinal Erectors or the Erector Spinae. They are twin column of muscles running the entire length of the spine. These muscles help you in bending over and returning to standing position. 

As a result when you perform the Deadlift the Erector Spinae is worked during the entire movement.


The latissimus dorsi, simply Lats for short. are a large muscle in the mid-back. Their main function is the control and movement at the shoulder joint.

The Lats are used in the Deadlift to help maintain the bar stays close to your body during the lift. The Lats themselves don’t move through a range of motion during the lift but perform heavy isometric contractions and stabilize. As such they perform an essential role during the deadlift. 

Upper Back.

The upper back is made up of several small but vital muscles. They include the Traps, Rear Delts, The Rhomboids and the Teres muscles.

Similarly to the Lats the muscles of the upper back are worked statically during the deadlift in maintain correct posture during the full motion of the lift.


The Forearms muscles are often undertrained in many lifters. Most lifters do not have direct forearm work in their workout at all. The deadlift is on of the few exercises that hit the Forearms directly. More specifically the Forearm flexors. “The under side of your forearm.” are used heavily to hold the bar and not let it fall.

Because most trainees don’t train their grip directly it is often the weak link in the deadlift. Meaning people go towards mix grip much early than they should increasing their risk of injury.

How To Program Deadlifting.

Adding Deadlifts to your program is simple however because it the Deadlift is a heavy compound exercise. Insure you are recovering properly between sets to gain optimal results and minimize injury risk.

When adding to deadlifts to your program insure that you place it first or second in your excises selection. This insures you are still fresh enough to perform the workout safely. While also allowing you to lift more weight causing more stimulation and hypertrophy.

Low Rep High Weight.

This is the bread and butter for deadlifting. The Three to Five rep range for Three to Five sets.  is programmed into nearly every beginner weight program there is and for good reason. This rep range almost guarantees you are working hard enough in the gym and causes tremendous strength gains. 

When lifting in lower rep ranges insure you increase the rest to allow proper recovery. Take Two to Five minutes rest between sets.

Moderate Rep Moderate Weight.

This is often called the “Hypertrophy range.” Aim to hit Six to Twelve for Three to Five sets. This rep range is great for building muscle mass and controlling fatigue.

This particular method can use the “touch and go” style of deadlifting effectively to increase intensity. But make sure to avoid bouncing the bar off the ground.

High Rep Light Weight.

High rep work build conditioning and is also a great muscle building style of training. Aiming for Fifteen+ rep range for as little as one to five sets. This style workout doesn’t build strength as effectively as the last two but it is a great whole body conditioning. 

A intense form of a single set workout for deadlifts is called “The Widowmaker.” usually performed with squats but it is equally as intense with deadlifts. perform 20 reps, performed in a “rest-pause” set style with a weight you would usually hit for 10 reps. This style of training are amazing for hypertrophy and builds mental toughness.

Deadlifting Variations.

The “conventional deadlift.” is the basic form of the deadlift and amazing for size and strength. 

There are however several variations to the conventional deadlift. Certain variations may be more desirable for lifters with preexisting injuries or limb lengths that don’t favor the deadlift.

Sumo Deadlift.

Without any doubt the most common deadlift variation apart from the conventional deadlift is the sumo deadlift.

The sumo deadlift is distinguishable by the wide stance and closer grip, often times closer than hip width.

This position loads the Quadriceps  more throughout this movement while also reducing the strain on the lower back. If you perform a lot of exercises that strain your lower back. Such as the low bar back squat or bent over rows. Or have long legs and small arms this lift may be for you.

Credit to Muscle Motion.

Trap Bar Deadlift.

The trap bar deadlift, also called the hex bar deadlift shifts the center of gravity of the lift by placing the lifter  right in the middle of the weight instead of the barbell being in front of the body.

This lift significantly reduces the strain on your lower back. Meaning this lift is the most low back friendly variation.

Credit To Buff Dudes.

Alternatives To Deadlift.

If for whatever reason you do not want to perform deadlifts there are several alternatives you can perform that will offer a lot of the benefits of deadlifting.

Romanian Deadlift.

The Romanian Deadlift is a great exercise in its own right. There is a significant increase of stimulus on the hamstrings and glutes. Maintaining slight bend in the legs while performing this exercise puts the focus into the lower body and reducing the strain in the lower back making it a great leg day exercise.

This is also a great exercise for people not looking to lift the most amount of  weight. As the shift in muscle recruitment and constant tension throughout the exercise means less weight is needed for similar outcomes.

Credit To ScottHermanFitness.

Rack Pull.

The rack pull if performed inside a power rack off the safeties. the safeties are placed either just below, at or just above knee level. This exercise reduces the range of motion of a normal deadlift but with the added benefit of a reduction in strain on the lower back and drastically increasing the amount of weight you can lift.

This is a common exercise suggested for people who want a build an impressive upper back including the Lats and Traps. Building the often called “Yoked” muscles.

Credit To Bodybuilding

FAQs About Deadlifting.

Is Deadlifting Good For Muscle Mass?

The deadlift is one of the main compound exercises. Deadlifting recruits a large number of groups throughout the lift. Especially for people new to lifting. Deadlifting is one of the best. “Band for your buck.” exercises you can pick from. 

My grip fails during a set. Should I use mix grips or straps for deadlifts?

The grip is often the limiting factor when deadlifting. Your forearms are a much smaller muscle than other muscles targeted in the deadlift like your back, glutes or hamstrings.

Your forearms will develop over time just like any other muscle and people usually switch to a different grip or straps to early. Leaving a lot of forearm strength by the wayside. It is not unusual for people to use a grip or straps that allow their forearms to not be the limiting factor of the lift.

Ideally use double overhand grip on all your sets until the grip feels like it will be the limiting factor. Then use straps for your heaviest sets of deadlift. This will provide a good balance between being able to not limit your deadlift strength and progression while building superior  grip strength.

A mixed grip shouldn’t be used unless in a competition when straps are not allowed. This grip exposes the rotated arm to a significantly increased risk of injury while also creating imbalances. 

Why do people drop the weight at the top of the deadlift?

It is possible that as weights get higher and increasingly more difficult lowering the bar raises the risk of injury. 

Also strength athletes may prefer dropping the weight at the top to avoid the eccentric portion of the exercise. Skipping the eccentric can control fatigue. And eccentric being the cause of most of the muscle soreness and hypertrophy can hinder training for strength.

Unless you are moving extremely heavy weights make sure to focus on a controlled eccentric to milk all progression out of the exercise.

2 thoughts on “How To Do Deadlift Properly And Safely.”

  1. Andrea Turnbull

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