T Nation

How to Deadlift?


Hi friends,

Welcome to this new interactive series where you can watch the exciting progress of theBird learning how to deadlift again.

I have not deadlifted for about 2 years after a lower back injury, and now as it is off-season I have decided to do some strength work and I am going to give deadlifting another go. My previous 1RM was 200 kg/400 lbs. I am 6'2, weigh 92 kg/ 200 lbs. I have a history of lower back pain with squatting and deadlifting.

I need advice on my form and technique and tips on how to improve and reach my goals. I would be happy if one of the more experienced members would like to take this project on as a coach, or otherwise maybe we can do this project as a community with a number of members providing input.

My goals are in this order:
1. Get my form/technique right (1 month)
2. Lift 50% of my bodyweight (2 months)
3. Deadlift my own bodyweight (4 months)
4. Deadlift 1.5x my bodyweight (6 months)

Below is the first video of this series. 3 days later after this was shot I have felt some minor lower back irritation(2/10). I feel my form/technique is not tight enough at the bottom and my lower back maybe doing more work than it needs to;

Feel free to add your input.

Uncle Bird.



You're not rounding your back, so if you're having back pain my thought would be that you are actually hyperextending your lumbar spine. Push the abs out harder and squeeze the glutes harder at the top. That should help to avoid hyperextension.


Push your butt back. You nd to keep your back straight, not vertical. What you are doing right now looks more like a squat.

Also, it would really help if you had a few 25lbs bumper plates. Using the plates you're using right now means you have to go lower than with a 45 on each side.


Thanks for the input and I will implement your advice. Although I associate the lower back pain with the initial movement of lifting the bar off the floor up to the level of my knees.



So your saying I need to lower my butt back and down at the starting position? I don't understand what you mean by straight and not vertical.

My gym does not have bumper plates, but if you look closer at the video Im using boxes to rest the bar down.

By the way, I will be postinga video weekly.



It looks like he has boxes, no?


The bar still goes lower than it would with 45s.


How high is the bar meant to be off the ground?



About 8-9 inches.

Also, start with the shoulders a TAD over the bar. What you're doing right now is this:

  • trying to keep the back as vertical as possible

    shoving the knees forward to do so
    holding the bar in front of you to make room for the knees.

Now, you can do this with 90 on the bar and engrain this form. When you get to 225 or so, you can't. Instead, you'll bend your back to compensate.

Bottom line: work with form that would actually allow you to use heavy weight, otherwise starting light will actually be counterproductive.

I wish I could help you with this in the flesh, but I can't. this video may help:


You are an athlete with a history of lower back pain yet you want to reach a deadlift of 1.5 x bodyweight in 6 months.
My question is why?
What are you hoping to achieve by this?

As you have stated the back pain comes with the initial lift off the floor. So why not take that part of the lift out of the equation with either rack pulls which are a good back exercise or Romanian Deadlifts which are an awesome glute and hamstring exercise.


I have a history of back two ruptured disk in my spine L4-L5 and L5-S1 and siatic nerve damage in my right leg. I can honestly say that deadlifting and getting much stronger lower back and hamstrings has almost completely cured it. I am 218lbs and pull 500 for 5-8 and last week pulled 500 for 4 from a deficit. Just because you have a badback does not mean you should completely avoid deadlifting just because of that. Just need to be smart as thebird is being right now.

I am on my mobile bird so I can't see it yet but,will watch and respnd later if you like.


Interesting... I think increasing my hamstring strength actually made my DL form worse, as I bring my butt up way too soon and just romanian the sucker.


Your feet are really wide apart for someone with back pain. I generally find that a closer stance means more leg drive, which is better on the back.

I made a video explaining how I deadlift. See if it helps you out.


I wonder if you might be better suited to pulling sumo with your long legs.

It is fairly tricky to gain the mobility to reach down and grasp the bar to start with especially (I think the idea is to laterally rotate the legs so the knees go out to the side so you keep your hips in close to the bar as you can and your back upright.

it took me a long while to get the mobility.... But it sorted out my hips quite well and now I can pull much more sumo than conventional and... The more upright my torso is kept the more the work goes to my legs rather than my back.

Took ages to get the hang of sumo... But I'll never go back. Just a thought.


PS i hardly recognized you without your psycho mask.


I feel like, unless your goal for deadlifting is higher powerlifting total, the sumo isn't really an adequate replacement for the conventional dead. They are both ways to move a heavy weight off the floor, but the latter is a much more hip and quad dominant movement, whereas the former tends to more heavily recruit the back and hamstrings more.

Depending on your reasons, you can switch between the two, but if the entire reason for choosing the dead is for the benefits of the conventional pull, I think a block pull would be a better substitute personally.


Thank you for the kind replies everybody!
I suppose a 1.5x bodyweight deadlift may be a lofty goal, although that is my final goal. I would be over the moon with a 3 reps of a bodyweight deadlift.

T3hPwnisher: your story and video is an inspiration. I would be honoured and extremely grateful if you would like to me my "online deadlifting coach". Im prepared to do whatever it takes. I will be happy to post a video weekly on your instruction.
I feel more comfortable with my legs at shoulder width as I feel awkward with my legs closer, which I assume has got something to do with my long legs.
What mobility drills did you do and how often? Which accessory exercises do you recommend and how often? Do you agree with static stretching?



I actually have long legs for my height as well. The legs together will really help there, because it really helps with leg drive. You basically squish into the deadlift.

I do zero mobility drills. I don't believe in training for mobility.

Best accessory exercises I could think of would be glute ham raises and reverse hypers. For supplemental work, I love the safety squat bar.

I honestly do not think I am the right coach for you, but I don't mind contributing to a thread.


How tall are you?
I feel if I have my legs together, that my back will have to round and contort just to get low enough to pick up the bar.

My gym does not have a GHR machine, although I am considering buying one to keep at home.

I respect your decision in regards not to train me. I would be grateful if you could keep an eye on this thread and help when you can.





I guess it depends on the lower back issue. I've just found that in my own personal case eliminating sitting from my life, replacing low bar back squat with high bar back squat and pulling sumo rather than conventional has eliminated my lower back pain.