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Deadlifting Tips


stole this off an email newsletter from stronglifts: Why Deadlifts hurt your lower back

  1. Youâ??re Pulling Instead of Pushing. Deadlifts are technically a pull exercise, but you should think of it as a push. Hereâ??s why: Deadlifting by pulling back â?? without engaging your posterior chain (hips/glutes) â?? stresses your lower back more. Itâ??s also inefficient because youâ??re using less muscles to lift the weight.

So instead of Deadlifting by extending your legs first and then trying to lockout the weight by pulling it back, focus on extending your hips on the way up.

Start the Deadlift by pushing through your heels
Push your hips forward once the bar reaches knee level
Finish the lift by squeezing your glutes as hard as you can

  1. Your Hips Are Too High. You canâ??t use your legs if you start the Deadlift with your hips high (like on Stiff-Leg Deadlifts). One, this is less effective for maximum strength. Two, youâ??ll stress your lower back more because it will have to do all the work. Your hips must be lower in order to Deadlift using your legs muscles.

For a guy with long thighs/short torso like me, the hips will be higher than for someone with short thighs/long torso. So it doesnâ??t make sense to try to copy the form of someone with a different bodytype. Better is to focus on the starting position which will always be the same regardless of the length of your limbs.

Bar above the center of your feet
Shoulder-blades directly over the bar
Bar against your shins (wear long pants)
Read this post for more information.

  1. Youâ??re Rounding Your Lower Back. Everybody knows that lifting a barbell (or any other object) with your lower back rounded stresses your spine. Unless you want to suffer a hernia, you really need to Deadlift with your back straight.

Note that Deadlifting with a round UPPER-back is safe, and that many advanced lifters do this in order to Deadlift heavier weights. But since most guys wonâ??t be able to keep their lower back straight when pulling this way, I recommend you to keep your whole upper-back neutral when Deadlifting. Hereâ??s how:

Lift Your Chest â?? your upper-back canâ??t round if you keep your chest up. Nor can your lower back round if your upper-back stays neutral. So make a big chest at the start of each pull, and keep it so during the lift.
Keep Your Shoulders Back â?? do NOT squeeze your shoulder-blades together like on the Squat as this would raise the bar and make the lift harder. Just keep your shoulders back & down and your chest up.
Improve Hip Mobility â?? short hamstrings from excess sitting can pull on your pelvis, and make your lower back round. Start by doing 2Ã?8 of Squat-2-stands as part of your Deadlift and Squat warm-ups.

  1. Youâ??re Hyperextending Your Lower Back. Exaggerating the lockout by leaning back is as bad for your spine as Deadlifting with a round lower back. Your lower spine doesnâ??t like extreme arching nor rounding, especially not when loaded. Repeatedly hyperextending your back at the top can cause hernias.

Keep in mind that powerlifters will sometimes do this to show the judges that theyâ??ve locked the weight. But this isnâ??t something recreational lifters should do when training. Just lockout the weight by extending your knees, pushing your hips forward and squeezing your glutes â?? done. No need to lean back on top.

  1. The Bar Is Away From Your Body. Whatâ??s the easiest way to shovel snow? With the blade close to your body? Or with the blade away from you? Obviously keeping the blade close to you is way easier because it gives you much better leverages. Well this same principle applies to Deadlifts: the closer the bar to you, the better the leverage, and thus the lesser the strain on your lower back.

Thatâ??s why the bar should remain in contact with your legs from start to finish on the way up of Deadlifts. Start with the bar against your shins, roll it upwards, over your knees and thighs, until youâ??ve reached the lockout. Wear long pants to protect your shins and legs so you donâ??t keep the bar from you.

Frankly, if you master proper Deadlift technique:

You will build a stronger back
You will be less prone to injuries because youâ??ll know how to pickup an object correctly from the floor â?? with a straight lower back
You could eliminate nagging back pain, once and for all


Good post. My favourite lift and something I focus on alot, trying all variations and techniques and finally settling for the 'push my feet threw the ground' as it seems to work best for me and yes makes it into a pushing lift like it's supposed to be.


"do NOT squeeze your shoulder-blades together like on the Squat"

Shit...I'm guilty of that one. Thank for the post CaveMan !


I'm 6'4" and if I take a normal deadlift stance my knees are still bent by the time the barbell reaches them and I can't continue upwards without shifting the weight forward to clear my knees. I have to take a wide stance. Seems to work for me. Before I was taught how to deadlift I used to hang my arse low and power the weight up with my quads...really just a silly squat. Now I'm closer to good deadlift form but I've been told I need to concentrate on using my lower back less and trying to use my glutes more.


my knees arent straight by the time the bar reaches them either, it just happens.


Fuck, im pretty guilty of No 2,

I always think ass down, chest out but sometimes I can take it a little far.


A bit of advice that I got that really helped me was "stand up with the bar." Helped me wrap my mind around pushing instead of pulling.


Then you don't know how to deadlift. Your ass should be midway between all the way up and all the way down. If you go down into a squat with your ass low that's what you'll be doing. A forward squat.

Best video series on youtube on the deadlift. This guy knows his stuff and if you doubt it watch him deadlift 650lbs.


Just so you know,

"Ass down, chest out" is a direct quote from Jim W's 5/3/1. I suppose he doesnt know how to DL either though.


Don't worry Haveironwilllift will sort him out


Just so you know,

"Ass down, chest out" is a direct quote from Jim W's 5/3/1. I suppose he doesnt know how to DL either though.[/quote]

Show me one serious lifter who deadlifts from the bottom of a squat. That's what I meant by 'ass low' and that's what I thought you meant. It is a common mistake. I can only assume that Jim Wendler thinks most people have their ass too high(another common mistake causing the legs to straigten and the back to arch over to reach the barbell), but if you watch him(or any serious lifter for that matter) deadlift they have their ass at roughly the halfway point.

I also notice he advises beginners to 'lift too low(in terms of weight)' and that he 'wishes he had been given this advice when he started out'. Kind of runs contrary to the 'lift big' advice I keep getting here. For some reason intermediate and advanced lifters here seem to think beginners are immune from injury and overtraining.


I'm going to regret this.

Most lifters should have their ass at the appropriate height for their particular body and setup. Pulling with the ass high is a MUCH more common (and serious) problem than starting with the ass too low.

There is no conflict between Wendler saying 'lift too low' and beginners being told to 'lift big'.

You should always start with manageable weight, if you can lift it with good form you will not be injured. You should also always use weight that feels heavy for a given rep range, again, if you can lift it with good form you will not be injured.

Your advice shows a lack of experience, either lived or observed.


^This. FTR, it doesn't seem like you have much to add (I'm seeing a trend with your posts). Are we supposed to think you are a stiffed motherfucker with a few years under the bar and past 220? Just curious.


I have repeatly asserted that for all intents and purposes I have NO experience. And no I don't DL 220. Here are my current pathetic stats. These are working set weights not PBs.

My weight: 183 lbs
DL: 110 lbs (could do more but worried about lower back)
Squat: 100 lbs (can half squat considerably more)
Bench press: 130 lbs(apparently this isn't quite so bad for a nube of my weight)

Now that we've again established that I am, not only new to lifting but extremely weak even for a non-lifter, I can get to my point: Why do you think that someone who hasn't had much experience dead lifting cannot know about good form? Actually, don't bother to answer that.

EDIT - I've reconsidered. You're right really. Experience matters a lot especially for DL.


"here is no conflict between Wendler saying 'lift too low' and beginners being told to 'lift big'"

  • I'd love to have that one explained. Especially as he chose the words 'too low'. Not 'a bit less' or 'not too heavy' but to lift 'too low a weight'. What he is bascically saying is most beginners start out lifting too much. I wonder if those beginners were continually told to 'lift big'?


"You want science and studies? Fuck you. Iâ??ve got scars and blood and vomit."

Another quote from Jim W, you can analise something all you want but until youve done the dance and acctually spent time under the bar your opinion is worth jack.


I concede your point. I do have a big ego and I'm a know-it-all. My natural reaction is to never back down. I need to spend a lot more time under the bar. Point taken.



Make a training log here. Read, read, read and start repping out some serious PB's while looking the best youve ever looked in your life.

There is always room for another iron-munger here at the nation dude:)