T Nation

Deadlift Starting Position


I have in front of me an article by Bill Starr he recommneds starting deads with shins close to the bar,so does Mike Robertson here at T-Nation
On the other hand Pavel PTP,says to start not so close,and the 10 mistakes article by Dave Tate seems to follow not so close and shoulders always behind the bar.
Wich one would you use???


Get your advise from the people who produced the strongest athlethes and powerlifters.


Tate states that the bigger guys may have trouble getting in to the shins. The bottom line is to get the bar as close into you as possible. The further out, the harder the lift and the more strain on your lower back.


Kroc is right. As close as possible is the goal, but position next to shins isn't the only factor to consider.



When I pull sumo, I get my shins right against the bar. When conventional, they are a few inches away.

Use whatever you are stronger with.


Yea, it's kinda interesting, and I'm not sure why, but there is a wealth of information about bench and squat form, but really not all that much about deadlifting. There seems to be much more room for personal differences. I'd say bar as close to the shins as possible is probably best, but there's a lot of room for personal differences.



do what suits u best


Mattray - I have similar form on both stances as you. I can walk into a sumo stance, but have to roll the bar into my shins conventional. Deads are the easiest move in theory and one of the hardest in practice and to perfect - You just have to pick up the bar, but there's so many little details to pay attention to that can screw the lift up.


thanks guys very much for your input.
I am just a martial artist trying to get stronger,sometimes there so much knowledge around,that you simply dont know where to go, when that happens the help from people in the trenches beats everything.
I just finished a DL with double bodyweight and as I put it down,got like a jolt on my left leg and for a second couldnt lift my leg of the ground.just tring to see what was wrong with my technique.
Anyway sharing your experience is greatly apperciated.


The following From Ricky Dale Crain who DL'd 716 at 165lbs:

The Deadlift: "The meet don't start 'til the bar gets on the floor." -The immortal words of Don Blue, world record holder of the 70's.

The deadlift: just you, the bar and your mind. Even though incredible back strength and psyche is needed, good technique is a must. There are two types of deadlift styles: the conventional, which most use, and the sumo (both narrow and wide), which most do incorrectly for the ones that do use it.

The deadlift is broken up into three parts
-The pre attempt scenario, i.e. getting ready for the lift -The set-up, i.e. walking to the bar getting your feet set and gripping the bar -The attempt/pull

The pre attempt scenario: A big psyche is necessary and you must have your mind set on the proper technique as you approach the bar. Concentrate on the form so as not to let the psyche get in the way of the form.

The sumo set-up:
Approach the bar. Take one foot or the other; your choice as to which is most comfortable and depending on whether you are a wide sumo or a narrow sumo. The shin goes up to the bar, and toes tilted out 45 degrees or even more in some cases. Shins vertical, and knees slightly bent. Hands should be down inside the legs with the forearms touching the inside of the thigh if possible.

As you push your knees out (like the squat), you bend over slightly, with arms straight, and grasp the bar half on and half off the knurling. Your arms should be straight vertically from the shoulders to the bar. This rule will determine exactly where the hands are to be placed. For a very big lifter with wider shoulders this may be all the way on the knurling. For most, however, half off and half on will insure the best and shortest pull.

The arms are straight, and the bar lies in the fingers, like it is holding a hook. Thumb should be overlapping one or two of the first two fingers.

The bar should "not" be squeezed. Rather, it should just lay in the fingers/hand. Only the thumb should be flexed, or squeezed, not the hands, not the forearm. If this is done incorrectly, most likely, the bar on a very hard pull will slip out of the hands.

Also if the hands are rotated as you grip the bar, it will most likely slip out as the weight pulls down, and pulls the rotated hands back to a straight up and down position. One does not have to have a strong grip to hold onto large amounts of weight. I have a very poor grip and grip strength and have never lost a deadlift, i.e. 716 at 165lbs.

The sumo attempt/pull:
As you are leaning over the bar knees pushed out, you dip the hips slightly to start your pull, short and sweet. The hips will pull in towards the bar. The head will follow from down to out as you start the pull. You will pull the slack first out from the plate/bar.

Then, the bend in the bar slack will come next. The bar will pull into the fingers even more as this slack is pulled out and as all the different areas of slack are pulled out you will explode up, with a very short in line stroke. The back will not be arched but have a slight curve in it/or perhaps even straight. You should take a short half breath right as you go down to the bar. Too much breath expands the chest and rib cage more than it need be. It raises the shoulders and lengthens the distance the bar travels, as well as forces the shoulders back while at the bottom right before the pull.

A variation of the slow sumo pull is the drop and grab and explode method. Everything is still the same as far as the hands, but it is done very quickly. Many times, when done too quickly or out of control, one grabs the bar wrong and/or the hips rise to fast, giving way to a stiff legged deadlift. The conventional set-up:

Walk to the bar with the feet about shoulder width apart. The shins should be 2-4 inches from the bar. Some minute experimentation will find the exact spot you need to be. As you lean over to the bar, grab it the same way as you did in the sumo except outside the legs a few inches on the knurling, touching the calves.

The conventional attempt/pull:
Take a small breath and dip the hips and pull. One variation of this technique used nowadays is to dip, roll the bar a few inches out in front of you, and then reverse and pull it back in. As it gets to the shins start the pull upward. Some momentum can be obtained from this and the bar can be started in closer to the center of gravity. If not done exactly right, however, a moving bar can be a problem.