Do you have the best deadlift form?
Every regular gym-goer knows about deadlifts. They are one of the building blocks of strength training—powerlifting, in particular—and are essential to building a strong physique from the inside out.
Training for aesthetics is all very well, but neglecting the basics can set you up for failure and injury.
The deadlift is a basic, yet complex movement. Performing a deadlift looks easy enough from the outside. You lift a barbell off the ground until your legs are straight (locked), and set it back down. Done correctly, it strengthens the entire body.
The Importance Of Form
Many people start strength training without a particular goal in mind and with little awareness of how important good form is when lifting weights. This lack of knowledge, combined with poor form, inevitably results in disaster.
To achieve and maintain good form, it’s important to look at every stage of an exercise, from warming up before you begin, to the moment the barbell lands on the floor after finishing.
Before performing any weightlifting exercise, it is essential to warm up so that your muscles and joints are primed for movement. Many people don’t know that warming up and stretching are two different things, and that it’s not actually advisable to stretch much (or at all) before weightlifting.
The deadlift uses many muscles and if you dive straight into the move, you’re setting yourself up for failure—and injury. It’s categorized as a full-body movement and involves major muscle groups, including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, lats, traps and rhomboids.
Warming up for your deadlift isn’t difficult and can protect you from injuring yourself. Good deadlift form means that you’ll be engaging muscles in your legs, back and core, so you should be performing exercises to increase mobility before moving onto the move itself.
Lower body mobility exercise: Get into a kneeling position, keeping one foot on the floor in front of you (the “wedding proposal kneel”). Lean into the position slightly, shifting your weight forwards over your front foot. Repeat a few times on both sides to get your lower body engaged.
Engaging your lower body: Starting in the same kneeling position, do some walking lunges, taking care to keep the muscles in your lower body engaged. This shouldn’t be done to the point of discomfort.
Practice hip extension: lying on your back on the floor, bend your knees so your heels touch your glute muscles. With arms by your side, lift your hips/pelvis to create a straight line from your shoulders (on the floor) to your knees. This engages your glutes and can be a gentle way to warm up your lower body.
There are dozens of exercises that can prepare you for deadlifting. To avoid getting bored with your routine, it’s a good idea to do some research and switch up your warmup every now and then.
Performing a deadlift can be broken up into a number of steps.
Stand in front of the barbell with your feet roughly hip-width apart. Your toes should angle slightly outwards, with your shins about 1 inch/2.5cm away from the bar. In the starting position, the bridges of your feet should lie directly under the bar.
2.Bend for the bar
As you reach for the barbell, your back should remain straight as you bend at the hips. Your knees will move slightly forwards, just over the barbell, so that your shins touch it. As you bend your knees, make sure that your hips don’t drop. When your shins touch the bar, adjust the position of your knees so that the angle of your legs matches that of your toes, which are pointed out.
The deadlift isn’t a squat, so don’t fall into the trap of dropping your hips to get lower.
While some people deadlift with a mixed grip, the majority of people doing strength training would do better sticking to the double-overhand grip. As you bend, place your hands on the bar so that your arms are positioned outside your knees. Gripping the barbell should be as comfortable as possible, but you’ll inevitably develop a few calluses.
To perform a deadlift with an overhead grip, place your hands on the barbell so that they sit close to the crease between your palm and fingers; then curl your fingers around the bar. Your arms should remain vertical and straight.
When you lift the barbell your back should remain straight, with your chest pushed slightly up. As you lift, it’s important to move so your shoulders are temporally further over the barbell.
Keeping your lower back in a neutral position, make sure that your spine is straight before lifting the bar.
When picking up the barbell it should move vertically in a straight line, perpendicular to the floor. Lift slowly and in a controlled manner. As you straighten up, allow the bar to brush against your shins, keeping your arms straight and focusing on engaging your back and hips.
Your knees can move outwards briefly while you’re lifting the bar, while your hips and chest straighten simultaneously.
Once you’ve lifted the barbell and standing in a straight, vertical position, lock your hips and knees. Stand in a fully vertical stance with your chest up and slightly out, keeping your shoulders down and your head high.
Your arms should have remained straight throughout the exercise. This position should be relatively comfortable. It should not feel like you’re straining to hold the barbell up with your arms.
The barbell should be lowered to the floor in a controlled manner. The best way to finish this movement is to reverse the process of lifting the barbell.
The deadlift is an essential part of your strength training program as it builds strength in most of your muscle groups. Pairing the weight with the correct form can boost your fitness dramatically—not something you want to miss.