T Nation

Deadlift Setup


Hi all i have been having issues with the deadlift setup recently with everyone telling me to

put the bar mid foot and close to my shins but i find that when i drive up i loose tension and

my hips shoot up with the upper half of the deadlift ending up as a back extension. I watched

the "diesel strength, how to deadlift" video on youtube and they stated that you should put

the bar roughly toe level which i tried and i find that i can drive off the floor better and

my hips don't shoot up like they do with the mid foot position... has anyone got a take on



That's not a great deadlifting video in my opinion. Reading around this site and watching good deadlifts will teach you to keep your shins more vertical and your hips back more. The guy in that youtube video was "squatting" his deadlift with ridiculous bar speed, which is exercise and doesn't hurt anything at low weights, but it isn't really a deadlift and I suspect it doesn't scale well to heavy weight.

You probably have stronger quads than you do posterior chain and that is why you like this video. You have to choose whether to baby your imbalance or remedy it.



Dave Tate has a good video on here, and it explains both sumo and conventional setups. I learn new things every time I watch it


EFS also put out a So You Think You Can Deadlift series -- Matt Wenning did this one.

For foot positioning he noted that guys with a bigger upper body frame will need to set up a little further back, whereas a smaller frame (think narrow shoulders, small chest) can set up with their shins basically touching the barbell. He's a pretty huge frame, and says he has his toenails lined up under the barbell.

Check out the series on youtube, it's very helpful.


I have found you should put the bar however you can get the bar over your shoulders. You don't want your weight over the bar meaning your chest is over the bar. When I dead lift conventional its very rare, but my being 6' 1" and 270 I cannot get down really low like some guys out there, so I have to stiff leg it for more then half the movement, I usually have to place the bar at my toes. But you have some guys only guy coming to mind is George Leeman (not that i can be compared to him) where he places the bar almost at his shins. I'd say experiment dude just try different pulls at like 80% so you can get tight, then just put the bar where you think it is comfortable. If you are still having problems and aren't comfortable pull sumo. Sumo is really straight forward. Get your shins perpendicular to the floor, and the bar should scrape your shins along the way up.


I'm going to say something very unfashionable, but it's the ONLY thing that has actually helped me with my deadlift as far as pulling with power, consistency, and staying injury free (so far..). To preface this, I just wanna say I garnered this lil 'setup' from the book "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Kelly Starrett. Essentially he states that the placing of your feet is inconsequential when we consider that the utmost important thing is setting up for torsion off the floor by externally rotating our feet. That's what really changed it for me, is torquing, or twisting the bar off the floor by pushing out extremely hard with the external rotation of my feet. I can't say you'll instantly pull more, but the premise of this entire set up is to elicit tons of stabilizer muscles including the huge ass (literally glutes) muscles we wield that hardly ever get utilized in heavy pulls because we're always in a EFF YEAH GRIP IT ND RIP IT BEEAATCH kind of mind state. It's really a conservative way to start the pull, but it's helped me tons.

The second thing goes hand in hand, and I've found to be just as important. It's just internally rotating your arms so that your mid-back is actually enabled for the pull. Very simple, but this elicits a huge chain of effects, like the activation of the scapula, along with a backwards pushing into your shins helping to keep the bar ever more closer as it comes up the legs.

TL;DR...> In conclusion, we must push out hard against the floor through external rotation of the feet and rotate our arms inward so that we ensure the bar will stay close to our body as it comes up, aswell as enabling our thoracic spine. This can be considered heebity boopity jeebity or whatever, but it's pretty factual, even if it doesn't work for you right away. It's just kind of common sense; torque braces and stabilizes and makes for a sturdy and formidable stronghold.


You had me until you said internally rotate the arms.

Internally rotating the arms is going to instantly put you in a weak upper back position causing large rounding of the back.


It might be another set of words tbh. I didn't quote anything on that except my memory. Do I still have you? IT'S SCIENCE HEE-HAW! If you're about to pull the bar, your elbows would be turned so that they're pointed directly back to the wall behind you, as opposed to being more towards the walls to your left and right. I know for a fact that's supportive for thoracic extension, just fumbling with my lack of vocab.


Ahh - that's not internal rotation. Now what you've said there i'm jiving with.

Basically trying to bend the bar around you to engage your upper back.


Yeah, that's external rotation.


YEAHHHHH. All da good external rotationz.


Holy crap this works well! I tried it tonight and I was way more upright, I could keep my shoulders behind the bar, I could keep my back flatter, and I was able to use more hip and leg drive as opposed to just using my back. It was awsome. I never thought such a tiny tweak could make such a big difference.


Almost sounds like a que to engage the lats. Interesting. I'll have to play with this. Going back to the OP, I think you'll just have to play with foot position. There's no be all, end all. Start close and work your way to your toes. I'm short, I like to line up close. There's a spot on my chucks I look for every time.