I have found that people have two main problems with how to deadlift. They either over complicate the lift or they over simply the lift. The people who tend to over complicate it are the bodybuilder (not competitition BBs, the kids in the gym reading muscle mags) types because they try to break the lift into muscle groups. This makes the deadlift look like 3 different movements. People with no lifting experience tend to think it is a very easy lift. “Just pick it up, right?” Yes, but if you pick it up incorrectly you can hurt yourself. Let’s try to help both of you out.
Walking through “How to Deadlift” step by step:
- I had a coach give me this little secret once and I think it works out great. Go hang from a pull-up bar and drop down. Look at where your feet landed. This will be your foot placement for the lift. Almost too simple.
- Walk up to the bar and plant your feet appropriately. Grip the bar so your hands are just slightly outside of your thighs. You do not want your hands to come straight up your quads during the lift. They should come straight up the side of your legs slightly grazing them.
- Feet placed, bar gripped. Now take notice of your shoulders. We are going to use leverage in this lift so you are going to want your shoulders directly over the bar or slightly behind the bar.
- Feet placed, bar gripped, shoulders in line. Now your back should be flat as a board. Do not arch your spine in either direction at any point during the deadlift.
- Rule of thumb: If your back and shoulders bend over or forward during the deadlift the weight is too heavy for you. I don’t care if you got the weight off of the ground, it is too heavy for you. Your back is too weak and you have work to do.
- Feet placed, bar gripped, shoulders in line, back flat. Now lift. We want out hips close to the bar and we want to use leverage to rock backwards keeping the weight on our heels. Don’t think of the deadlift as lifting up, but think of it as lifting back. If you let go of the weight I want you to fall on your butt.
- Feet place, bar gripped, shoulder in line, back flat, using leverage in the lift. Now I do not want you to tear your legs up, but I also do not want your to have a crappy lift because you are afraid to do so. The bar should trace your legs the entire time. This is hard to explain through text, but your knees should get out of the way of the bar. The bar should not get out of the way for your knees. The bar should trace your legs staying right up against them. Bar always close to the body. Closer to the body and the strong muscle groups control the lift. Away from the body and smaller muscle groups (lower back) try to control the lift.
What is easy about DLs? What is difficult? Do you like them? Hate them? Do you feel you’re doing them correctly?
Picture from the 2009 CrossFit Game website. games2009.crossfit.com