T Nation

Deadlift Form Check Please!


Hi everyone,

I'm having some difficulty with my deadlift. And hoping to get some feedback. I have lurked forums and articles, here and elsewhere, for quite a few months. However I'm a little clumsy and there's only so much you self learning and correction you can do on your own(for me anyway). Needless to say I managed to pull225 lb for one rep a few days ago. And consequently made someone close to me pretty upset since my form was like shit on a stick. Basically I turn into a female quasimodo once I start going for over 200 and it's either lowback dominant I think, but one person said it looks like I'm trying to pull with my lower traps. I'm feel really rather uncertain at this point.

and I'd like to hear some advice from someone beyond that weightlifting is going to make me fat and that my triceps are too big... -_-.

Misc observations:
Pull with hook grip up until 185 regulary(occasionaly can manage a few reps with hook over 185...not often).
Over 185 I'm stuck with mixed(right OH, left UH)
I can't pull worth a shit on some of the thicker, in diameter bars, in the gym.

Assistance I'm doing to improve DL:
GHR machine, good mornings, rdls, single leg bridges, single leg squats,hip thrusts. That's all I can think of offhand.

Background: desk jockey, 20something, former college swimmer and taekwondo as kid(left knee can slightly hyperextend ever since), did some distance running a few years ago(lost interest), been mucking around with weightlifting for year and half(only in past 9 months have seriously tried any "powerlifting" or "olympic" style lifting)

example of my 195 tonight:

Close to my bw, 145, yes stupid runners because before I hit 155 I still like to jog around the track a couple laps between sets...:


Anyways any thoughts on what next steps could help me in improving this? Thanks for your time!


Do you use the valsalva maneuver?



Your hips come up a litte fast, in the 175lb, because your hips come up your lower arch is pulled out a bit.

I recall reading, and seeing a few pictures, of a lifter who had an upper back 'hunch' but his lower and middle spine was still strong. So what looked like a bad lift, was still quite good.

Seems good. Shoulders are positioned well, bar is coming up straight, strong at the top for the lock out.

Hope that helps.


A: Giggity
B: pretty damn good form, just hips rising a little too soon


First off, good job. You are moving some good weight.

I'll reply to the 175lb vid, because I thought those looked 'the worst.'

I think you are starting with your hips too high and are getting mobility to the bar by an exaggerated back arch. See if you can get your hips down lower. Right now, they are shooting up first and you actually loose that back arch before the bar even moves. The rest of the lift becomes a stiff-legged deadlift.

Also, on the way down, you are moving the bar around your knees/squatting the weight down. If you want to lower it 'properly', do an RDL to get around your knees, and squat it down the last 1/4 or so.

And if you wanted someone to be nit-picky, you could consider tucking your chin/packing your neck. (but I don't think you need to worry about this yet).


I agree with this. Work on getting your hips lower. I like DLing from a deficit. It really forces me to get my hips lower.


Which may or may not work for the OP. Not taking anything away from your suggestion, as it may work for you, she'll just have to find what works for her. Another option is to pull from blocks and gradually increase ROM until she can pull from the floor.


So it seems the answer to stop wiggling my hips in the air is to try deadlifting from a decifit and blocks(I checked this article out: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/mastering_the_deadlift_part_iii)
I agree Gabex that this is going to take some experimenting to get sorted out, before I get settled into a proper lifting pattern consistently in order to progress. Another stupid is that I'm relatively short, but it's not like I have super duper ape long arms which I've read is supposed to be deadlift ideal :S

Sexye: thank you for your help. And I think I've seen a lifter that does the upper back hunch.

Caveman: Thanks too, and I had to look up giggity. I'm not only learning better lifting but apparently I'm catching up on tv culture -_-

Howie: Appreciate your point of view. I need some new tools to try and fix this before something silly happens.

Now this is going to also sound like an odd question, when should I start programming deficits & block pulling? I normally deadlift once a week. I know that, recovery wise, I can handle twice...but the second time has to not be "heavy" aka lighter weight, more reps or I get toasted. So do I throw this in a couple days before normal conventional deadlifting a couple days after?

This is going to sound deranged, but I'm pretty sure I feel more muscle contraction(and mind connection maybe?) with my arse and hamstrings when my hips are higher vs lower. I've never perceived my flexibility as an issue(can squat to the floor with chest not hanging over knees, splits, etc) but I could be missing some link here. What I do notice personally that when my hips are lower I can't get a good handle on having my muscles contracted as tightly to produce power....that really confuses me.

Thanks again everyone for your help!

Oh and Betrael, what prompted this question? I had never heard of valsalva;s so mr.google and I had a date. So apparently some people do this while doing #2, more info than I wanted, thanks mr.google. I do take a deep breath in & exhale as I'm completing the lift. So sort of similar to valsalva I suppose...
I think it more relates closely to my endurance swimming, aka most, people while doing the front crawl..might at most make 3 strokes before turning the head for air. I had gotten to the point where I could tempo out five-six before breathing and still maintain decent speed. Kind of offtopic, sorry.


An easy way to fix your starting position which will help with the butt raising first is to just make sure your shoulders are inline with the bar. ie, don't lean over the bar when in the starting position, shoulders should be inline or slightly behind.
Other than that, I think you have really good form and the rest will just come with doing them more.
Good luck to you


You may not feel the glute/hamstring tension with your hips lower because you may not have it. In other words, you may be relaxing those muscles in order to get that range of motion (due to a lack of mobility or flexibility).

As far as programming.. this may not be what you want to hear, but you might need to drop pulling from the floor while you work on this. I'm not talking long term, but for 2-3 weeks, pull from blocks with bar height at right below knees, then lower it for another 2-3 weeks, and gradually repeat until you are pulling from the floor. See if you can't fix the issue after 6-8 weeks. That's not to say you can't try a few 'light' sets from the floor while fixing your issues just to test the waters.


Well Gabex, over the weekend I tried deads right below the knee, and I definitely could keep "tension" in the glutes and hamstrings through that whole range of motion. Sorry no vid, my phone decided the battery should die. I worked with 95-120 lbs on those. It did my ego in my original post that night I didn't go above 195 and the deads just above the knee kicked my ego even more in the shins :slightly_smiling: But I suppose better my ego bruised than my body fucked.

I'll keep at this, lowering it a bit by bit till I'm back at the floor. Thanks for all the help. Hopefully in a month there'll be some pay off. I also did much higher volume on the glute ham raise this past Friday as well....and I did bouldering over the weekend. I thought I was going to die a couple times my glutes hurt so much. Then trying deads from knees the day after was rough since my forearms were also fried. -_-

Gambodian, thanks for your input. I'm pretty certain I sometime set up with my shoulders over the bar. Which is ironic, because when I clean and jerk I'm slightly behind, and the initial pull in that is essentially a deadlift more or less. I appreciate your input, it's more food for thought.


Good to hear. Keep at it! Repost new vids if you take any.


I was thinking that you've got a pretty nice clean set up happening, then you say that.