Credit: Todd Bumgardner : BodyBuilding.com
What does good deadlift form look like?
- Your feet should be spaced hip-width apart with your grip just outside your legs.
- Use an overhand grip.
- Your back should be flat—neutral spine—from start to finish.
- Your shoulders should be back and down.
- The bar should remain in contact with your legs for the entire range of motion.
- Your hips and knees should move together to transfer the bar from the ground to an upper-thigh, locked position.3
If you can’t keep a flat back when setting up to deadlift from the floor, don’t lift from the floor! There’s no rule that says you have to.
Elevate the bar on squat-rack pins or jerk boxes to a position in which you can flatten your spine. This great deadlift variation is called a “rack pull,” and it’s especially good for those with mobility issues that limit their range of motion.
Since many beginners have mobility issues, like tight hamstrings, I recommend you start with the rack pull and gradually progress to the full-range pull.
How To Progress Safely
How do you know if a weight’s too heavy? For a beginner, the answer is simple: it’s too heavy when your form breaks down. If your spine rounds or your hips and knees don’t move together, the weight is probably too heavy.
So, why bother to learn to deadlift? Quite simply, it’s one of the most effective exercises for developing the pure strength that leads to bodily size and athleticism. Since it’s a full-body movement that uses a lot of muscle mass, the deadlift also builds total-body muscle.1
It’s one of the few lifts that directly targets the hamstrings, a group of muscles often overlooked in the weight room.2 It also works your glutes, lats (upper back), and core.
This magic lift also improves posture. We live most of our lives focusing on the front of our bodies, ignoring our rears. In turn, we develop bodily frames without balance, leading to a host of postural issues—hunched shoulders and weak backs, for example.
Deadlifting reintroduces us to our body’s backside—the hamstrings, glutes, and back. Posterior training balances the body, helping us stand taller and with greater strength.
In short, deadlifting will build muscle, improve your posture, give you balanced, full-body strength, and turn you into a total gym badass. After all, there’s nothing quite like ripping heavy weight from the ground.