Deadlift Expert and MEN'S HEALTH MAGAZINE writer breaks down the Deadlift for us!

deadlift technique,

Deadlift Technique - A Detailed Look at the Deadlift

By Jim Smith, CSCS, Men's Fitness Magazine Columnist & Contributing Writer
Author of Accelerated Muscular Development System

The deadlift may appear to be an easy exercise to execute, however, nothing could be further from the truth. When I watch people at the gym deadlift, the same mistakes always stand out - not using legs enough, bowing the back, bending arms too much etc.

The good news is that all of these mistakes are easy to correct. Nine times out of ten you will have to swallow your pride and take a couple plates off the bar - and start at the beginning ...again.

Deadlift Technique - Proper Form

deadlift technique,

You start the lift by setting yourself up right in front of the loaded bar.

In order to maximize pulling, you shouldn't have your shins tight against the bar from the start. Rather, line up the knuckles of your toes with the bar.

Then, when you squat down to grasp the bar, you will have contact with the bar and be in the perfect position.

The width of your set-up is dependent on a lot of things: the length of the torso compared to the length of the legs, the length of your arms in comparison to the body etc.

In any case, you will need to experiment and see what works best for you. You will be one of three types of deadlifters: conventional, semi-sumo or sumo style (see photos below). See which one maximizes your strengths and body type, and go with that one!

Once in front of the bar, take a deep breath, squat down, keeping the hips and butt low, and grasp the bar.

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You should feel compressed like a giant spring waiting to pop-up. Get your hips as low as you can given your build and flexibility. You should still be holding that breath in order to maintain tightness. At this point, keep your head up to help keep the back straight and tight. Then, look forward, not down because looking down will tend to make you hunch your back at the start of the pull.

Now that you are in the proper starting position, it's time to start the lift. Most people always think that you pull on the bar to start the lift. WRONG ANSWER! Pulling up makes you lose your tightness and hunches you over.

Instead, your should concentrate hard on driving your feet INTO the platform and squatting the weight up. This will bring your hips, glutes and legs into the exercise movement. As you do this, your arms should stay straight. Your arms are merely hooks and play no part in lifting. Bending your arms is not only a good way to miss the lift, but also a great way to tear your biceps!

As the bar leaves the platform, it should be on up against your shins. Continue to drive and push up against the platform/ground as you lift the bar up over the shins and knees and onto your thighs. At this point, you will drive your hips forward and bring them into the movement in order to put the bar into the locked-out position.

That’s it! Now that you know the correct deadlift technique and how to do it right, let's look at a couple of common mistakes that lifters make when they are deadlifting.

Deadlift Technique - Common Mistakes

The biggest problem I encounter with beginning and seasoned lifters alike is the hips going up without the weight. Instead of driving into the floor with the feet, many lifters initiate the lift by pulling.

This makes the hips pop-up first which will result in taking the hips, glutes and legs almost entirely out of the movement. This will also bow the back and increase chances of back injury from deadlifting! When people tell me they hurt their back deadlifting, all I do is watch their deadlift technique and watch if their hips shoot-up too early.

Zatsiorsky tells us in Science and Practice of Strength Training that weight loads on the lumbar intervertebral disks from a mere 50kg load will compound itselfd and amount to a whopping 630kg with a bowed back! When the back is held in the arched, tight position, the same 50kg load exerts a load of 380kg. Much less than the hunched-back position. So, is there any wonder people injure their backs?

A second common mistake in deadlift technique is the bending of arms. Perhaps from all the years of curling and rowing, some people automatically think the their arms need to be bent on the deadlift as well.

To fix this mistake, think of your arms as hooks only and concentrate on relaxing them through out the entire lift. Squeeze the bar tight but relax the arms.


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About the Author

Jim Smith is a men's fitness expert and performance enhancement specialist. He writes for Men's Health Magazine on a regular basis and is the author of the highly popular Accelerated Muscular Development System.

His AMD system is NOT your typical training system. AMD is a complete muscle building system that provides a step-by-step template for you to MAKE INCREDIBLE GAINS.

His program also includes a core strengthening program -Combat Core, a Deadlift Manual and a posture improvement and back pain relief program -Accelerated Corrective Strategies.

Visit to find out more!

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