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This exercise is a great one for those who are pain free and want to ensure they stay that way by strengthening their body. It’s a great movement for strengthening the entire posterior chain which consists of the calves, hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back.

Certain elements of the posterior chain, like the glutes, are often weak in people who sit a lot. When performing the lift, make the conscious effort to squeeze your buttocks and push it straight forward as soon as the barbell has passed the knees. Squeeze all the way until you’ve locked out and finished the lift. DO NOT overextend by leaning back and contracting/hyperextending your lower back. Your lower back functions as a stabilizer and a way of transferring force from your upper body to your lower body; so keep it that way and just keep your midsection as tight as possible while you let your hamstrings and glutes do the dynamic work.

The deadlift can also operate as an assessment tool. Many lack the hamstring flexibility and lower body mobility to properly setup in the starting position of the deadlift. If this is the case, stretch the hamstrings and perform various mobility exercises for the hip and ankles. While you do this, you can begin deadlifting with the bar raised so that you can start the lift in a safe position – without rounding the lower back. This is best done in a power-rack with the safety bars holding the barbell at your desired height. Progress week to week by lowering the height of the bar until you reach the floor. Once you’re on the floor and deadlifting with excellent form, start adding weight. Don’t be scared to go heavy on this exercise if you’re healthy. However, I do recommend keeping the repetitions relatively low – 2-5 reps – because form often deteriorates quickly.

Here’s a good intro to the deadlift. Comment if you need any clarifications or tips.