Deadlift tips can help but learning proper
is key to performing the movement safely and effectively, but there are a lot of things to remember so even the most experienced of us can sometimes deviate from proper form.
There are a number of common mistakes people make when deadlifting that make the exercise less effective and even increase the risk of injury.
These deadlift tips will point out the common mistakes and show you how to fix them so you can start pulling up trees again without the risk of injury keeping you away from the iron!
Tip #1 – Avoid Rounding Your Lower Back
How many people do you know who’ve tweaked their back as they bent down to pick something up? The reason for this is because they tried to lift something with a rounded back.
Despite this being common knowledge, it’s not uncommon to see people deadlifting with a rounded back which stresses the spine and puts you at risk of a hernia.
Keep your core tight during the deadlift which helps to stabilise your spine and keep your back flat throughout the movement.
Tip #2 – Avoid Hyperextending Your Lower Back
Another common mistake and another way to woo a hernia is hyperextending, or leaning back at the top of the deadlift.
The deadlift ends when your head, hips and knees are STRAIGHT, there is nothing to gain but injuries by leaning backwards at the top.
Tip #3 – Avoid Rolling/Shrugging Your Shoulders
It’s also common to see people add a shrug to the top of a deadlift (quite possibly the same people who hyperextend!) and again it is a dangerous practice best left well alone!
Your shoulders should be pulled back at the top and your chest up, there is no need to add a shrugging movement here. Your traps will develop nicely from heavy deadlifting alone.
Tip #4 – Avoid Stiff Leg Deadlifting/Hips Too High
Understand the difference between a conventional deadlift and the stiff leg deadlift or Romanian deadlift. They are different movements so treat them as such rather than combining them all into one useless movement.
Starting with your hips too high is a common cause of a rounded lower back as you stretch it to hoist the weight up.
Your hips should be lower so that your quads work to get the bar moving and straighten your knees.
Tip #5 – Think Pushing Instead of Pulling
Yes, the deadlift is a pulling exercise, but actually thinking of it as a pushing exercise can help you avoid your back taking on too much work.
So rather than starting by pulling with your back, you should push through your heels which makes your quads the dominant muscle in this part of the movement.
Once the bar is past your knees your hamstrings and glutes take over until your torso is vertical, your lower back simply keeps your torso rigid.
Tips #6 – Straighten Up Your Bent Arms!
Bent arms while deadlifting make it harder to move the weight as the force you are generating cannot be transferred to the bar. You also risk tearing a bicep so make sure your arms are straight and your triceps are flexed.
Tip #7 – No More Half Reps/Bouncing Between Reps
This deadlift tip is ignored by almost everyone I see deadlifting at commercial gyms.
The bar should come back to a dead stop on the floor in between every single rep.
You often see people go halfway down and then back up (a la stiff leg or Romanian deadlifts) or just bounce the bar on the bottom and go straight back up. The bounce helps them cheat as the energy is transferred back which helps you to lift the bar for the next rep.
The exercise is called a DEADlift because the weight should be dead still. Place the weight back on the ground, take a few breaths and go for the next rep, Rinse and repeat.
Tip #8 – Is The Bar Too Far Away From Your Body?
The bar should remain in contact with your legs throughout the movement. Having the bar too far in front of you to save scraping your shins makes your back take on too much work and is not recommended.
The bar should be touching your legs but not be rubbing them so hard the skin will break, trousers are recommended to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Having the bar too far from your legs makes the weight on the bar feel heavier as the mechanics of lift change and it becomes less efficient.
Tip #9 – Throw Away Your Running Shoes!
Not all deadlift tips are focussed on technique!
Running shoes that have gel soles or air bubbles are not recommend for deadlifting as the sole compresses which makes it unstable and means the power you generate doesn’t make it to the bar.
Flat shoes are essential for deadlifting, I wear Converse or Vans but any flat soled shoe will do fine.
Tip #10 – Film Your Deadlift!
I don’t need deadlift tips!
I thought I knew how to deadlift properly but once I filmed my deadlift I was shocked at the number of mistakes I was making.Check out this video of me deadlifting and watch out for the mistakes I’m making:
- Rounded back on last rep
- Not pushing through my heels
- Lower back taking on too much work
I thought I was deadlifting in good form until I saw this so it’s important you try to get a video of yourself to access.
I hope these deadlift tips help you identify the areas you need to work on as the deadlift is such an important exercise, it’s worth taking the time to master it.
As I mentioned at the start of the page, deadlift tips are only useful to correct bad technique, time should be spent learning good
to ensure that you really harness the power of the amazing movement!