How To Deadlift. Correct Set Up and Technique
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Going to continue with these technique break downs as lifting technique is the most important aspect of weight training. If you’re doing it correctly then you’re not using the muscles the way they are supposed to be used and there is a real risk of injury too.
Deadlifts are often done incorrectly. And it is one of the highest risks when it comes to injury.
Deadlifts done wrong are awful, but done right, they are the best exercise for building overall strength and muscle that you can do. I get every client to do deadlifts regardless of their gender, goals, age, deadlifts are a must for a strong body.
It is also the technique that I hate teaching the most due to how complex it is and much there is that can go wrong. There are so many components to it and they all need to be maintained at all times.
If you follow these steps correctly, your deadlift will be much stronger and the risk of injury will be reduced drastically.
How To Set Up
Once you’ve got the bar set up straight with the weight you want on it, don’t move the bar. You move around the bar. Too many people get it set up and then start rolling it or messing around with it. Get it set up straight and don’t move it.
Walk up to the bar so that your shin are about an inch from the bar. You might even be able to feel the hairs on your legs touching the bar. That’s how close you should be.
A good guideline is that the bar should cover the knot on your laces.
Then we’re going to do the same screwing the feet into the ground motion just like we did for the squat.
Toes pointing forward and screwing your feet into the ground like you’re standing on a towel and trying to pull the slack out of it.
This creates torque and tension in the hips. This is huge and will help with your lift big time.
Then, the bit I hate the most, you hinge your hips. Why do I hate this? Because doing this correctly is something that literally 90% of clients I’ve ever had struggle with.
Just before the hinge, engage your abs and brace your shoulders. Once you’ve done this, don’t move them. Then hinge at the hips so that your upper body position is fixed just like how it was when you were standing up.
Your hips and your but will go back with a slight bend in your knees. As your reach back with your butt, let your knees bend naturally. But don’t let your knees shoot forward. Your shins should stay perfectly straight the entire time.
A good way to think about it is like being in that huddled up position that you would be in when you played games as a kid. Almost like someone is going to leap frog over your back.
As you can see there’s so much going on here and it is difficult to maintain all this. This is why I hate teaching this so much. Because getting this hinge motion is so important but so many people struggle to get it all right.
Now that you’re hinged over, grip the bar ever so slightly wider than your foot position.
You should feel like you’re in a bit of a squat position but your hips should be much higher than a squat but the positions are not dissimilar.
Your breathing key for protecting your back and making your body strong.
Think about expanding 360 degrees, not pushing out your belly. This creates a compression in your trunk. This is the same way that that bit of air in a can of is what makes it so strong. You can stack can after can on top of each other but the bottom one won’t get crunched.
The reason for this is the air inside the can. Not that the can is made out of strong material. You’re going to do the same thing by taking a big breath in and expanding 360.
To get your back and shoulders set, think about bending the bar the same we talked about in the bench press break down. This will set your shoulders and really engage your lats.
I’m sure from this section alone you’ve gathered why I hate teaching this so much.
Lifting The Weight
In theory this is the easy part. Maybe not easy to do but there’s not much to it.
Maintaining all that tension and positions from the set up, drive through your feet and squeeze your glutes to stand up straight.
Do NOT bend your arms at all. You arms should be relaxed except for gripping. Doing a bicep curl motion while picking it up is a great way to tear your bicep.
When you’re standing up, stand up straight. Don’t lean back and crush your lower back.
Lowering the Weight
This where it goes back to being tricky, because now we’ve got to hinge again.
So we do this by keeping the upper body braced like we have the whole rep. Stick your butt back like you did when you were setting up.
Keep the bar close to your body as you’re lowering it. Don’t let the bar go too far out from your body.
Think of it like you’re trying to touch your toes.
Once the bar has passed you knees, then you can squat down into it and set the bar down.
You see a lot of people just drop the bar at the top but that lower part is the negative/eccentric part of the lift which is huge for building strength and muscle. Not including this is a big mistake.
It a good idea when working on technique to lighten the weight a lot and make sure you’re able to tick all the boxes and do all the steps correctly.
Missing or doing any of the steps badly will hamper your lift or even cause injury.
I noticed a huge difference in my squat and deadlift once I learnt about screwing my feet into the ground and was aware of creating that compression in my trunk.
I got noticeably stronger just by adding these in and being more aware of them. So I know for a fact if you’re missing any of the points that I brought up that you are not lifting to your max potential.