How to nail the deadlift technique?

The deadlift is a movement I often see performed incorrectly in the gym and I don’t blame them, it’s not as easy as it looks.

That being said, if you’re going to perform a deadlift you need to be doing it right.

Now, of course it is much easier for you to be shown by someone who can correct your technique and show you visually how to perform the deadlift, but in the meantime…here’s a few pointers.

What are the benefits of a deadlift?

Arguably one of THE BEST exercises that involves all major muscle groups in one exercise – lower body, lower back, upper body. 

This however, does not mean you HAVE to be doing it.

Female trainer performing deadlift

Why would you perform a deadlift? 

If you’re looking to build strength, size or even just because it’s something you’d like to do – it just feels good to pick up a heavy bar and put it back down again.

When would I perform a deadlift?

This isn’t to be done if you’re new to weight training.

Focus on the basics first, build strength and nail down good technique before thinking about doing a deadlift (I appreciate this would be another topic for discussion).

That doesn’t however mean you shouldn’t do it but a good training plan will allow you to work towards the movement if it’s something you’d like to do.

Female trainer Manchester

If you are looking to build strength, size or you feel you’re ready to perform a deadlift I would almost always have this at the beginning of a programme.

Unless an advanced lifter, it’s not a lift I would recommend performing when you’ve already fried the required muscles.

How much weight should I use?

If you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’re new to this – so start low. 

If you can find a ‘baby bar’ and stick on 5kg either side, then do that.

Technique is way more important in the offset, then you can simply build up how much weight you’re using once you feel confident.

How to perform a deadlift 

1. Stand close to the bar with your shins touching, feet shoulder width apart, look down at your foot placement, your shoe laces should be directly under the bar, now stand tall (this is mainly to get you in the right mindset of being solid)

Female training clients

2. Perform a hip hinge movement (imagine pushing your hips away from you but if you’re still unsure this is something you need to master before you look at performing a deadlift) and grip on to the bar either side of your knees

3. Now you need to engage your lats, and brace your core (push your belly in towards your back) to prepare your body to lift the bar, imagine squeezing your sides with your armpits (imagine someone is trying to tickle you under your armpits and you’re trying to stop them) – if you’re doing this right, you’ll already feel your lats working hard

Female training in Manchester

4. BEFORE YOU EVEN LIFT THE BAR. I want you to feel the weight of the bar, so pull on the bar staying in that position, without lifting (you should be feeling a lot of tension at this point)

5. Your head positioning is important – your head needs to be in line with the rest of your body, so don’t make the common mistake of looking directly ahead as you’ll be sticking your neck out and you’ll feel a lot of tension here if you do so. Look at the floor ahead of you

6. YOU’RE ABOUT TO LIFT. Now your upper body is fully engaged you are ready to lift the bar but I don’t want you to think about lifting with your arms. You’re already locked in with the bar, now it’s time for your lower body to put in some graft

How to perform a deadlift

7. This is where the hip hinge comes in play again, drive down through the floor keeping your back in a straight neutral position – as the bar comes up, your hips move forward

8. From the top, you’re then going to do the opposite. You’re not lowering the bar, you’re still simply moving from the hips and the bar will follow. Continue to move the hips until the bar is lowered to the ground. Here it’s important to spot if anything is happening that shouldn’t. Things to look out for:

Your bum lifting up before anything else – focus on lower body strength to improve this.

Any ’rounding’ of the shoulders or back – this means we need to work on engaging the lats and working on lower back strength. You can do this working from a higher ground e.g. rack pulls. 

Here’s a video of the full movement.

So that’s the very basics of a deadlift but of course there are most likely going to be questions that you have off the back of this so hit me with them.

Until next time.