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How to Deadlift?

Welcome to the How to Deadlift guide.

If you haven't already, check out our recent guide on How to Squat.

What is a Deadlift?

The Deadlift is a simple compound movement, compound meaning utilizing multiple muscle groups to perform a single repetition. It is one of the most important strength training movements for the upper body, legs and back. It is also one of the top 3 compound movements performed in a powerlifting competition.

There are also many versions of this exercise. These include:

- Conventional style

- Sumo style

- Romanian/Stiff-legged/Straight style

- Hex/Trap style

- Rack pulls etc.


Some of its common uses and benefits include:

  • Development of muscles groups - namely back (erector spinae), legs (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) and hips (glutes and adductors)

  • Application and Development of strength

  • Stability Control

  • Energy expenditure - Deadlifts exert lots of energy (calories)

  • Fat Loss

How to Deadlift?

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus on the Conventional and Sumo style. Here's a quick breakdown on How to Deadlift in 7 simple steps:

1. Setup: Prepare yourself for the lift. Put on any apparel i.e. socks, slippers, suit, belt, wrists wraps, chalk/powder, suit etc. Load the bar and place your Feet directly under the bar keeping your stance width slightly narrower than shoulder width.

2. Grip the bar and use either a mixed grip where stronger hand uses overhand (pronated) and weaker underhand (supinated) grip. Alternatively use a hook grip where both hands use overhand grip.

3. Keep Shoulders Behind. Shoulders should be positioned slightly behind the bar. From this position you will be able to pull straight up and back. Remember to keep an Arched Back and push chest up and forward to prevent rounding of the back.

4. Drive the hips/butt up as high as they can possibly go without sacrificing the arch in your back. When ready take a deep breath of air, brace your core and lift.

5. Contract and drive your hips forward by pushing from the heels. Pull the weight up and back explosively and controlled in a completely straight line. Remember to keep the bar as close to you as possible to reduce the traveling path. Note: This part may scrape your shins and knees. To prevent scraping wear leggings or compression wear.

6. Extend Knees, once bar passes knee level. Assume an erect position by locking your knees and hips.

7. Descend Safely back down by bending hips and flexing knees to lower the luggage.

Congratulations! This completes the Conventional Deadlift movement. Sumo Deadlift

Sumo and Conventional are very similar styles, however there is one key difference in the setup:

  • Stance Width: Position your feet as wide as you can with toes pointing to the sides. Make sure to assume wide enough stance to shorten the distance but narrow enough to have power for the lift. Note: You will need to constantly engage and flex your legs more than your back before, during and after the lift.

Lift Phases

Common Errors and Misconceptions

There are also incorrect ways to deadlift. This can leave you more prone to accidents and injury. Some incorrect cues to look out for:

  • Rounding/Hyper-extending of back

  • Looking straight down

  • Incorrect breathing technique

  • Chest/Shoulder rounding or collapse

  • Hips too high/low

  • Bent Arms/Wrists

  • Shrugging

  • Too Wide stance

With compound movements remember the lifter is at his weakest at the beginning of the movement when the weight is lightest. On the way up or down, the lifter becomes stronger while the weight gets heavier. This is how resistance training works. Join us next time as we breakdown How to Bench Press!

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