Proper deadlift form is critical for anyone interested in the benefits of deadlifts. Obviously a lack of proper deadlift form is a recipe for potential disaster, especially for people like myself who are beginners and not seasoned weight lifters.
Lower back injury is not the type of deadlift benefits that we are seeking. We are looking for the great benefits of deadlifts that will come from using proper deadlift form for ever set and every rep.
First, I am going to give you what I have found to be the most important ingredients for proper deadlift form. Then, I am going to inject more information from some of the experts on the web about proper deadlift form. Believe it or not, I am going to make my own effort to get personal trainer and health coach certification from the American Council of Exercise, yep, at the ripe young age of 58, but until then I think it is a good idea to refer to other people that have much more expertise than I do on proper form deadlifts.
1. Proper Deadlift Form – Warm Up
Before you even get to a proper form deadlift, make sure that you are warmed up! You cannot just walk into the gym and start doing deadlifts cold. You can, but I think that is playing with fire. A great way to warm up for deadlifts is with squats. Now, if you are not up to squats yet or do not do them, no worries, other good ways of warming up is walking and stretching at the minimum or any other type of activity that will get your body feeling more flexible and breaking a bit of a sweat.
2. Proper Deadlift Form – Start Light
Don’t try to be a big shot and load up the bar with 225lbs for your first deadlift. My suggestion is to start light, whatever that is for you. When I first started doing deadlifts, I started with the olympic bar and 2.5lbs on each side for a grand total of 50lbs. Hey, that was enough for me to actually start to see results, the first of which was that I was incredibly sore in my legs and back just from that light weight. Now I warm up with 95lbs and am working my way up to deadlifting 170lbs, but when I am not feeling strong enough like today, I am not going to go for a heavier weight, just enough to maintain and not go backwards. So, no matter how great your proper form deadlift is, if the weight is too heavy, trouble is brewing, therefore, please start light and gradually increase the weight.
3. Proper Deadlift Form – Approach the Bar
Approach the bar for your proper form deadlift. Place your feet about shoulder width apart underneath the bar. The bar should be close to but not touching your shins. The bar should be about in the middle of your feet when you look down. If you place your feet too wide, then you will be interfering with your grip and if too narrow, then you will not have good balance when lifting the bar.
4. Proper Deadlift Form – Get a Grip
For me, the next most important phase of a proper form deadlift is getting a very good grip on the bar. Some people use an overhand grip for both hands and some use one overhand and one underhand. I prefer the latter with my right hand being underhand. Deadlifting with this type of overhand and underhand grip feels more balanced to me. See which one you like better. In any case, no matter which grip you use, get a good grip, a strong grip and make a committment to deadlift this weight. When you bend down to get a grip, you want to have a strong grip with both hands and you want to already be in a squat position with your sight focused on one spot, either the floor or the wall. A proper form deadlift will be alot safer if you are focused on what you are doing and not thinking about other things that are not related.
5. Proper Deadlift Form – Keep Your Back Straight
Read this subheadline once again, or maybe a hundred times more, keep your back straight. This means that when you are in the squat position, the lowest position, your back must be straight and solid. You must not ever do deadlifts with a rounded back. That is not a proper form deadlift, that is a recipe for a back injury. When you are in the lowest squat position, your feet are shoulder width under the bar, your grip is strong around the bar, your backside should be lower than your shoulders, your shoulders are pulled back and you make a very noticeable effort to keep your back straight with your sight set on one spot on the wall or the floor in front of you.
6. Proper Deadlift Form – Deep Breath and Lift
When you feel like you are ready to go for the deadlift, take a deep breath, tighten your core and keep it solid, and exhale and do your proper form deadlift by driving with your legs to deadlift the weight off of the ground. Do not use your arms to lift the weight. You are going to use the power of your legs and your straight solid back to lift the weight. The bar will rise as you are driving with your legs and keeping your back straight, somewhat in a straight line from the floor to past your knees, legs and you will settle into the top position holding the weight.
7. Proper Deadlift Form – Keep the Hold and Lower
Maintain the hold of the bar and weight for a couple of seconds once you are standing up straight. Do not lean back, just stand straight with the barbell in your hands and feeling the power that you just generated. You should give yourself a pat on the back for performing the deadlift with proper deadlift form. Using proper deadlift form is going to maximize the many deadlift benefits and minimize your exposure to risk. As you know, deadlifting is a bit of a risky activity for those who are sloppy, lazy or just lose their concentration, so lets do our best to not become any of those and to always use proper deadlift form. After you maintain the hold of the bar for a couple of seconds in the upright position, then you want to lower the bar the way you brought it up, with proper deadlift form. The number of reps is up to you, sometimes I will do a max of five reps and sometimes just one rep, because I think that even just one rep is the functional use of a deadlift.
For example, last week I helped my sister in law on the way to the airport. Here I was, in front of my wife and mother in law and sister in law. Her suitcase was not supposed to be over 60 lbs but she had weighed it in at 90 lbs. It was large and bulky and I had three pairs of eyes on me as to whether I would be of any use or not in lifting this suitcase to the truck of the car and out. So, I looked at that suitcase like a barbell and did my best to emulate proper deadlift form with that suitcase and voila, I picked it up with no problem and no back strain and got the approval from my mother in law as having done a good job. That is what I mean when I say that proper deadlift form and building strength is a functional benefit. Now, once I lifted the suitcase one time, I was not going to take it out of the trunk, put it back in over and over again. Once was enough!
At this point, this is what I have to say about proper deadlift form.
I would like to hear comments about proper deadlift form from you, especially if I myself am doing the deadlift incorrectly or giving the wrong information about proper deadlift form.
I plan on adding to this post with the best tips that I can find about proper deadlift form for your benefit and mine.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you found this information on proper deadlift form useful or not.