T Nation

Deadlifting Tip


This is just a simple tip I was taught the other day that might help some of the beginners with their deadlift form. Hope it can help some other people out, if not than just ignore it! haha.

The other day I'm doing a few warmup sets of deadlifts. Wasn't feeling all that great so I didn't plan on going too heavy. As I'm about to start into my actual sets this guy come up to me and asks me if I want a bit of coaching on my form. Always looking to improve my lifts I said sure. He told me that everything looked pretty good but the one thing he would suggest is to really drive with the hips.

This means as you have the bar at about knee level and are about to straighten up to stand fully upright really drive your hips up and out. Focusing on this immediatly made the weight move a lot easier and even on a shitty day allowed me to come within 10 pounds of my personal best.. I guess its time to go for a new personal best!

Hopefully this is helpful..


"Hump the wall."


This is a very good tip. Something that will make it even more effective is performing glute activation exercises prior to your deadlifting, since these are the main "hip drivers".


This is actually a basic principle when doing deadlifts. It's sad more people don't know. The hip drive is vital to deadlifts. Always squeeze your ass checks together and push your hips forward. READ STARTING STRENGTH by MARK RIPPETOE for help on your form for the bread and butter lifts.


That 'tip' will also prevent you from some pretty serious back injuries down the line...too many people just try to stand up with the weight in their hands....


Definitely a good tip.

Another tip, not directly related but still on the same subject of deadlifts so this seems a good place to put it, is being very aware of knee angle.

There is no one "correct" knee angle but it is very much a variable that should be controlled instead of allowed to drift.

Broadly speaking two descriptions that have some common use are "powerlifting style" and "Olympic style." Not that the deadlift is an Olympic lift, but on account of how Olympic lifters tend to deadlift when doing it for training.

In the powerlifting style, the knee bend is no greater than a half-squat: that is to say, the top of the thighs are at at least a 45 degree angle to the ground. There can be even less knee bend than this.

In the Olympic style, there's more knee bend than this.

The powerlifting style puts more emphasis on the hamstrings than the Olympic style does; the Olympic style puts more on the quads than the powerlifting style. I wouldn't make that the reason for picking the Olympic style though, as the Olympic style standard deadlift is still hardly the quad exercise to rely on.

Different individuals will have their best lifts with somewhat different knee angles typically. It's individual.

Letting your knee angle unintentionally change with time leaves open the possibility that you may not be increasing how hard the muscles are having to work even though weight and/or reps are going up. It could be that you have gained no strength at all but have just drifted into a style that allows better performance. So the "gains" weren't gains. Or alternately an apparent disappointment of no greater weight or no greater reps might not be due to no progress, but rather to unintentionally drifting to a knee angle that is harder work.

Better for that reason to be consistent.

Secondly, being inconsistent in this regard I think impairs skill development, because the motion is going to have to compensate in different ways for the differing knee angle. So no set, mastered "routine" develops, but rather it's kind of improvisation every time, which isn't best.

In any case and for whatever the reason, being keenly aware of knee angle and being quite deliberate and intentional about what it is, is quite helpful.

Having a mirror and closely observing start position helps in doing this.


Bill, for my own clarification - I assume when you refer to a 45+ degree bend as a "powerlifting style," that you are talking about a conventional stance? I deadlift sumo and the tops of my thighs are almost to parallel.


Yes, I should have been clearer. I was referring to conventional stance. Thanks!

Also, to be clearer, these are just names that are used by at least some, and I don't know other names for making the distinction. The names do not mean that everyone who is a powerlifter or everyone who is an Olympic lifter necessarily uses a knee angle matching up with the corresponding lift name.