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If you missed the intro to the deadlift, you can read it here to catch up and see if deadlifting is right for you.

The deadlift is a simple rudimentary lift. You’re basically just picking up a heavy object off the ground. However, there’s a few things you should know before performing this lift that’ll make it much more effective and safe for your body. The following is a list of things you should keep in mind while performing the deadlift.

The Set-Up

To determine how you should place your feet, simply perform a vertical jump. Pay attention to how you plant your feet to jump because this is exactly how you should set them up for the deadlift.

Grab the bar as close together as possible, however allow for enough room for your hands and arms to clear your knees and/or hips.

Place the bar over the center of your foot, or if anything else, keep it closer to your shins rather than farther in front of you.

Use a double overhand grip as you warm up. Only use a mixed grip (one underhand, one overhand) for your really heavy lifts. I also recommend switching the underhand hand to overhand each set.

Consciously and forcefully squeeze the bar as hard as you can before lifting. This will activate the muscles in your forearm and will contribute to a better, faster lift.

Take the deepest breath you can and push your stomach out to increase intra-abdominal pressure. This will stabilize your spine and give you a stronger more solid base.


DO NOT pull explosively with all your might at the beginning of the lift. This will just put you out of position and you are much more likely to injure yourself. Instead, gradually increase your force until the bar starts moving; once it has cleared your knees, feel free to explode through with your hips as much as you can.

Keep your head in line with your spine. Don’t look up, don’t look down. Just look straight forward relative to the angle of your back. So at the start of the lift you’ll be looking at the floor a few feet in front of you, and at completion you’ll be looking straight forward to a wall.

Keep the bar in contact with your body at all times. Do not let it drift forward. In fact, you should be consciously trying to pull the bar up and slightly backwards. (However, do not use your lower back to extend the weight, use your hips to push through and extend your body.)

Extend the knees first and keep the same back angle as your starting position until the bar clears your knees. Think of doing a leg press into the ground.

Once the bar has cleared your knees, squeeze your butt and push your hips all the way forward to complete the lift.

DO NOT round your lower back at any point; but you shouldn’t hyperextend the spine either, so don’t arch your back too much. Keep it neutral and solid with the breath of air you took. However, if you did anything else, err on the side of arching rather than rounding.

Don’t worry about rounding your upper back as much. This is more goal oriented. If you want to strengthen your upper back or if you have thoracic kyphosis then keep your shoulder blades pulled back. If you’re training for powerlifting, a heavy deadlift, or if you have mobility issues, then round the upper back to decrease the range of motion. In any case, maximal deadlifts will require you to round your upper back at least a little bit.

DO NOT bend your arms at any point in the lift. To ensure this, flex your triceps before pulling.