Proper Deadlift Form
Article courtesy of our friends at Muscle Research:
Some may argue the bench press is the manliest exercise. Those people have no idea how extreme and important the deadlift is.
The reason it’s called a deadlift is because it requires you to lift dead weight lying on the ground without any momentum. Lifting against gravity adds another element to this exercise making it even more intense.
The deadlift is one of the most extreme free weight exercises in terms of muscle groups it affects. Deadlifts work your entire torso as well as the muscles in your back, legs, hips and forearms. Squats are the only other exercise activating a comparable amount of muscle groups.
Since deadlifts are so extreme they can be very dangerous if you use improper form or attempt to lift too much weight. Deadlifting with improper form can squeeze your spinal discs and cause serious lower back injury. However, using proper form increases the benefits of the exercise. Because of this, proper deadlift form is crucial and can be achieved by following the instructions below:
At the Top
Stand with the bar over the middle part of your foot with your toes pointed slightly outward and your feet about hip width apart. Your arms should hang down naturally just outside your legs.
Bend at the knees, hinging forward slightly at the waist, until your shins just touch the bar. Grab the bar firmly just outside of where it touches your shins.
Lift chest and straighten your back without moving the bar. Make sure not to drop your hips or squeeze your shoulder-blades together. Take in a deep breath and hold it, then stand up, maintaining a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Be careful not to lean backwards.
At the Bottom
Once you’re fully standing, lock your hips and knees. Your elbows should remain locked through the entire exercise, never bend them.
Also make sure not to shrug the weight. Keep your shoulders and traps relaxed during this part of the exercise. At this point, your back should be neutral with a slight natural arch. Don’t try too hard to make it straight—it should be natural and relaxed like if you were standing without holding the bar.
To return to the starting position, push your hips back first bending your knees once the bar is level with them. Don’t bend your knees too early or you’ll hit them with the bar. Put the bar down, rest for a second and start again.
If deadlifts aren’t already part of your exercise rotations start with just the bar and practice your form for sets. Increase your weight slowly and pay attention to how your body reacts. The motion might feel awkward and jerky at first, but will get more natural and fluid as you do more and more.