A Proper Form Deadlift Can Prevent Training Ending Injuries
You need to learn how to deadlift with proper form before anything else because you want to start doing and benefitting from the greatest strength training exercise ever for your posterior chain – the barbell deadlift.
Meaning this one towering compound lift will target just about all the muscle groups on the back half of your body, and many on the front as well.
Whether you use a lighter or heavier weight.
So, do not worry about how much you can lift!
First, understand how to deadlift and increase the weight you lift – gradually.
Deadlifts Should Not Cause Back Pain
Gradual Improvement Prevents Injuries
The result of moving up more than 5 pounds at a shot might be lower back pain and/or a groin pull.
I know, I already made that mistake so you do not have to.
Anyone who has ever experienced lower back pain knows you have to do everything possible to avoid it.
And this is especially significant if you are over 50.
Your body will not recover as fast, so you have to avoid mistakes in order to keep working out without downtime.
A gradual increase in weight avoids injuries.
I Hurt My Back! What To Do Now?
You do not want to suffer from lower back pain, groin strain, or even tennis elbow.
If you want tennis elbow, then next time you deadlift, bounce those weights off the floor.
Do not be surprised if you end up with the incredibly painful lateral epicondylitis, aka tennis elbow.
Deadlift and bouncing heavy weights off the floor will do the trick.
Your tendons need time to adjust to deadlifting.
Even if you think you can deadlift heavier, don’t.
Instead, use the 1 rep max deadlift formula to determine your max lift, and then base your deadlift programming around your 1RM as in this 12 Week Deadlift Program for Beginners in Fitness or Powerlifting.
If you increase your deadlift weight only five pounds a week, that is 250 pounds in one year.
Here is a fast cheat sheet of how to do the conventional deadlift with proper form:
Deadlift with Proper Form Checklist
Step 1. Start light for your warm-up sets
Use a broom handle or weighted bar or Olympic barbell to practice good deadlift form.
Or you can use 10-pound bumper plates to mimic the same height as if you were using 45-pound plates.
You want to deadlift with the barbell at the appropriate height, and bumper plates are great for that.
If you think you don’t have time to warm up, then you don’t have time to deadlift!
Step 2. Make sure the bar is perpendicular to your stance
Step 3. Wear the Right Shoes and Socks
Also, make sure that you are wearing proper gear for deadlifting.
When you are starting out, you do not need much, but do not shortchange yourself.
You need deadlift shoes, as opposed to typical workout shoes.
That is about all you need to start deadlifting safely.
You can worry about a weight lifting belt when the weight you lift starts to climb.
Step 4. Foot Position
Place your feet about hip-width apart with the bar crossing over the middle of your foot.
Use your shoelaces as the cue for the middle of your foot.
As opposed to the squat where your feet are shoulder-width, you want your feet to be more narrow and a good cue is hip-width.
The reason for this is a big secret to effective deadlifting, which is using a jump stance to push against the floor to power the initial lift of the barbell off the floor.
Don’t ever deadlift the barbell using your back, instead, push against the floor with your feet and deadlift the barbell while keeping your back in a neutral spine position.
Why Is My Lower Back Sore After Deadlifting and How Do I Fix It?
Step 5. Hip hinge and let your upper body drop towards the bar
Push your hips back, lower your arms to the barbell, and make sure that your back is relatively straight.
(You will correct any rounding of your back before you start the lift.)
Step 6. Grip
Place your hands on the barbell.
You can use a double overhand grip for lighter weight so you can focus on perfecting your form.
When the weight increases, you will probably pick an alternating grip to prevent the barbell from rotating out of your hands.
Grab the bar in your hands, real tight and strong.
No matter which grip you pick, there is no other exercise that will increase your grip strength like the deadlift.
Step 7. Do not even think about using your back to lift the weight
Step 8. The All-Important Bracing
You need to brace your body and create a stable and powerful lifting environment.
Take a deep breath as you raise your chest.
Engaging your lats will help you push your chest forward.
You can engage your lats by imagining that you are bending the barbell around your legs.
At this point, your entire body is braced and tight so that when you start your deadlift, you will have a stable core.
As Tony Gentilcore says “lock your shoulder blades and put them in your back pocket” as a cue to help tighten your entire back.
Step 9. Drive Your Feet Through the Floor
Drive the weight off the floor with your legs.
Keep your back straight, use a firm grip, and when the bar passes your knees, push your hips forward to straighten up to use a full range of motion.
Step 10. Lower the weight
Lower the weight slowly and let it rest on the ground without bouncing or making a lot of noise and commotion.
Reset and repeat the deadlift for eight repetitions in three sets if you are deadlifting 60 – 75 percent of your 1-rep max, or 1 – 2 sets of 5 reps if you are deadlifting 80 -90 percent of your 1-rep max.
Rest 3 to 5 minutes between each set to recover.
Common Deadlift Form Errors
Deadlift Proper Form – Final Thoughts
Always work to perfect your deadlift form.
Of course the same goes for the squat and every other exercise you do in or out of the gym.
But, especially the deadlift, because of its risks and rewards, you must be fully focused on what you are doing.
What this means for you depends on where you are in your fitness of mind and body journey.
I hope this proper deadlift form checklist is helpful as a tool, motivation, and information.
I welcome your comments and/or corrections.
Learn how to ensure proper deadlift form with the 5 point deadlift setup.
And if you need to lose weight before starting to deadlift, use this free guide on How to Lose 20 Pounds in 3 Months Using 5 Simple Steps.
Please share your recommendations and tips on how to deadlift with proper form.
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