Beginner Deadlift Form Tips – Introduction
These deadlift tips and tricks are the ones I wish I had when I first started to deadlift.
They will help you not make the same mistakes I have made in my pursuit of getting leaner and building strength over the age of 50.
I have scraped my shins up, hurt my lower back, got tennis elbow and strained my hamstrings, so you don’t have to.
These are the most critical deadlift tips and tricks I have learned over the last seven years.
Had I known them back then, I might not have faced several injuries after listening to good-intentioned gym ‘experts.’
Every injury costs more time away from the deadlift.
So always use a lighter weight to perfect your deadlift form and then gradually add weight as you get stronger.
Deadlift Tips and Tricks for Beginners
#1. Imagine the stance you would take to jump off the floor as high as possible.
#2. Position your feet in that jump stance, which is approximately hip-width for most people.
#3. This jump stance is how wide you want your feet to be so that you can exert maximum force against the floor. Note: There are exceptions, such as Brian Shaw, who uses a broader stance.
#4. Also, a hip-width stance keeps your legs narrower than shoulder-width or just shoulder width so that you have room for your arms at your side.
#5. You must wear proper deadlift shoes that are as flat, close to the ground, and as stable as possible.
#6. Do NOT wear typical gym or running shoes that have a flexible compressive rubber sole.
#7. You do not want your foot to be shifting around while lifting heavy weights because that is an invitation to injury. Instead, you must have a firm and stable base of support.
#8. Eye up the barbell over your instep, smack in the middle of the foot.
#9. A good cue is that you should see the barbell directly over the laces of your deadlift shoes.
#10. For this reason, it is better to wear shorts with deadlift socks than long deadlift pants.
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Shin Protection and Grip
#11. If you lift with proper deadlift form, you will be less afraid of scraping your shins doing deadlifts.
#12. A good pair of deadlift socks, shin guards, or shin sleeves is adequate shin protection.
#13. First, you must hip hinge, which means to push your hips back, then bend your knees, lower your arms to the barbell, and then grab the bar.
#14. Do not squat down; keep your hips up, remember, the deadlift is not a squat.
#15. Grip the bar with a firm double overhand grip with your arms just outside of your legs.
#16. At least for your warm-up sets, use the double overhand grip.
#17. Some prefer a mixed grip for heavier weights to prevent the barbell from rotating.
#18. Keep your elbows straight and locked.
#19. Do not bend your elbows.
#20. You do NOT lift the bar with your arms; instead, your arms are like hooks stabilizing the barbell against your body.
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Chest, Back, and Bracing
#21. Raise your chest as this will flatten your back.
#22. Keep your back as straight and tight as possible.
#23. You must keep your back neutral.
#24. Never leave your back rounded or loose.
#25. Your shoulders will be slightly forward of the barbell.
#26. And your shoulder blades should be directly over the bar.
#27. Your entire core should be tight before you start lifting the weight.
#28. Tighten your core by taking a deep breath, holding it, and pulling the slack out of the bar.
#29. Use a weightlifting or powerlifting belt to help you brace against the belt.
#30. To take the slack out of the bar means to pull the bar up slightly till you hear or feel the barbell touch the plates.
#31. Pulling the slack out of the bar is one of the best cues because it helps you engage your lats and tighten your body like a coil ready to explode.
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Lat Engagement, Leg Drive, and Hip Drive
#32. You must engage your lats to keep the barbell close to your body; otherwise, it could swing out in front of you.
#33. An excellent cue is to imagine bending the barbell around your shins because that thought will help you tighten your lats.
#34. Start the deadlift by pushing your feet against the floor, which helps you raise the weight off the floor without using your lower back.
#35. Instead, use your leg drive to lift the bar off the floor by pushing the ground away from you.
#36. Think leg press, a vertical or reverse leg press is one of the best deadlift cues.
#37. In the same way that you do a leg press, push the floor with your feet to start the deadlift.
#38. When the barbell gets up to your knees, drive your hips forward to complete the deadlift.
#39. You will feel as if you are pulling the weight up your shins and legs by using your hip drive and solid back.
#40. Stand up tall, but do not arch your back, just stand up straight.
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Lowering the Barbell
#41. Now push your hips back again and let the weight lower the same way you did the deadlift off the floor.
#42. Do NOT bounce the weight off the floor for another rep.
#43. A deadlift is a lift of dead weight, not a bounce off the floor.
#44. Old school experts will tell you to bounce the weight off the floor so you can do more reps.
#45. But, if you bounce the weight off the floor, you could end up with lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow.
#46. Do not let the barbell fall to the floor like a bomb.
#47. Put the weight down as lightly as possible without creating a ton of noise.
#48. Set the weight down and set up again for a deadlift with perfect form from a complete dead weight still position.
#49. Don’t be that guy or girl or creates noise chaos in the gym by bouncing or dropping your barbell.
#50. Get stronger gradually and with the best deadlift form possible.
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- Deadlift every other day with 50 to 70 percent of your estimated one-rep max deadlift.
- Three sets of 5 – 8 repetitions are enough for an excellent deadlift workout.
- Once a week, do heavier deadlifts, where you do 1 – 2 work sets of 5 – 8 reps using 80 – 90 percent of your estimated one-rep max.
- Always keep a record or journal of your deadlift workouts to measure your progress.
- Review these deadlift tips often and imagine yourself getting progressively stronger on your deadlift.
Use my Max Deadlift Calculator to estimate your one-rep max for the most effective compound exercises; deadlifts, squats, bench presses, overhead presses, power cleans, and bent-over rows.
Deadlifts – The King of all Exercises
What are the best deadlift tips for the king of all exercises?
Some will say squats, and some will say deadlifts are the king because both squats and deadlifts work so many muscles of your body at the same time.
No matter which opinion is correct, deadlifts are a fantastic exercise to help change your body from fat to fit – faster than you think possible!
When I first started deadlifting in June of 2012, I started with the 45lb bar alone.
Gradually I added weight using bumper plates, which allow you to keep a proper deadlift height of the barbell as you get stronger.
In December of 2012, I was able to do one deadlift of 175lbs after five sets of deadlifts.
The bigger part of the story is that between June and December of 2012, I took off 75 pounds and 18 inches from my waist.
I am 64 and in better shape than when I was 55, except for a congenital kidney condition that required pyeloplasty surgery last year.
At 55, I was pushing 275 pounds with high blood pressure, near type 2 diabetes, and a 50-inch waist.
My weight is 170 pounds, normal a1c levels, and blood pressure of 110/68.
I credit the ten commandments of the Hashi Mashi Plan that I follow for the past seven years:
- Eat Real Food
- Get Good Sleep
- Drink Enough Water
- Take a Complete Rest at least One Day a Week
- Do Pushups or Bench Press
- Start Moving Every Day – Walk or run, do the elliptical, swim/jump rope for at least 30 minutes a day
- Think Good Thoughts
- Speak the Words that You Want Your Life to Resemble
Deadlift Tips for Breathing
You must take a deep breath before beginning the lifting phase of your deadlift.
You want your body to be tight.
Wearing a weightlifting belt when the poundage gets heavier is an important deadlift tip because it helps you create intra-abdominal pressure.
And forces you to feel how your deep breath makes your body tighter.
Do not exhale while you are standing up.
Take a deep breath before your deadlift and leg press against the floor, drive your hips, drag, and pull the weight to a standing position.
Then you can exhale when you are just about at the top.
Breathe normally and lower the weight to the floor.
Never drop the weights and, of course, never kick a barbell out of a lifter’s hands cause you don’t like the noise.
You can do squats and deadlifts on the same day, but you will need a lot of time if you are lifting heavy.
Therefore, a good practice is to limit your heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses to one day a week.
For heavy deadlifts, you will need more rest time between sets.
But for lighter deadlifting days, you can minimize your rest between sets to help you get toned and ripped.
Deadlift Tips for Beginners – Final Thoughts
Deadlifts have not just been useful physically, and along with squats, I think they have added the most in helping to transform my body from one with zero muscle to at least a little muscle.
But also figuratively, meaning you will not only increase your grip strength, glute and hamstrings, and posterior chain but emotionally as well.
When you see that you have the ability to keep getting stronger and deal with heavier weights, it can give you more confidence that you can do the same thing with all of the emotional challenges that we all face, be they small or large.
I hope you find these deadlift tips useful to perfect your deadlift and change your body into the physique that you want.
Learn more about the 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast.
Let’s keep the conversation going; what are your favorite deadlift tips?
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