T Nation

Need Help with Deadlift Form


#1

Back angle:

You'll notice that I put my hands on my back several times. This is a bit heavy for me and I was afraid the whole time I'll hurt my lower back. The fidgeting with my hands and grabbing hold of the barbell is another bad habit I have.

P.S I posted earlier about having squat problems.Widening my position with my legs into a sort of sumo stance really helped me maintain my form and get the depth I wanted. Everything seems okay on that department now.


#2

OK, there’s a whole bunch of things I would say you really need to do that should help your dead lift a lit.

  1. Learn how to brace. That will take a huge strain off your lower back and help you keep it nice and straight. First step is to learn how to breathe with your diaphragm so you inhale by pushing it out. I practiced this by placing a hand just below my sternum and pushing it away as I breathe in. So, to brace take as deep a belly breath as you can, hold it and try to force the air out past your closed throat. You’ll feel your whole midsection go rigid. That’s how you need to feel from gripping the bar the putting it back down. NO EXHALING UNTIL THE BAR HITS THE GROUND!! And yes, you will get a little light headed from that. Its OK. You also want to feel that tightness in your upper back. For that, I like the ‘crush and orange in your armpits’ cue. Its just what it sounds like: squeeze in and down with your armpits while you push your air against your closed throat.

  2. Clean up your set up so it is both tight and quick. My cues (may end up being different for you, but I like to think they are decent) are: bar over mid foot (middle of my arch); feet just inside my shoulders with toes pointing a tiny bit outward; get a bellyful of air and brace; drop to grip the bar just outside my legs; pull. Try to minimise the time between gripping the bar and pulling, trust you will be in the right position, because the longer you take the harder it will be to stay tight.

  3. Get your hinge on: learn how to hinge at the hips without bringing the knees forward too much. A good drill I’ve seen is to stand with your back to a wall and stick your backside out without letting your knees come forward until it touches the wall. Try doing this with your arms hanging in front of you and you’ll get a really good idea of how far back your hips need to go for you to grip the bar. You can also use a band for this: standing on the band with your feet deadlift width apart, loop the band over the back of your neck and hinge down, then stand back up as fast as you can. I do this as part of my deadlift warm up.

  4. Don’t cock your head back, just let it sit where it would be naturally. Sounds nebulous, but you’ll find that position soon enough. CHEST up is an OK cue, but not so much head up.

  5. Pull as fast as you can. Explode off the floor and don’t slow down until you’ve pushed your hips through the bar and you’ve lock out. Then lower the bar nice and fast, don’t slow it down. I’d be willing to bet that it is your slow lowering that is hurting you more than anything.

  6. Try using a mixed grip for heavier sets (one hand over, one under). It takes away the feeling of the bar sliding through your fingers. Train your grip too (hanging from a pull up bar, walking around holding heavier dumbbells, or holding plates in a pinch grip).


#3

Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional?


#4

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

Good call on the chalk, I should have mentioned that. I’m iffy on straps for convenational dead lifting if you haven’t a) injured your palms and/or b) developed decent grip strength yet. I do know they help a lot of people though.

Belt wise, I’d really recommend against using one for three to six months of solid bracing and dead lifting training. IMO you want to get a really good feel for pulling and bracing without a belt before you introduce one.


#5

[quote]MarkKO wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

Good call on the chalk, I should have mentioned that. I’m iffy on straps for convenational dead lifting if you haven’t a) injured your palms and/or b) developed decent grip strength yet. I do know they help a lot of people though.

Belt wise, I’d really recommend against using one for three to six months of solid bracing and dead lifting training. IMO you want to get a really good feel for pulling and bracing without a belt before you introduce one. [/quote]

I feel we will have to agree to disagree.


#6

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]MarkKO wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

Good call on the chalk, I should have mentioned that. I’m iffy on straps for convenational dead lifting if you haven’t a) injured your palms and/or b) developed decent grip strength yet. I do know they help a lot of people though.

Belt wise, I’d really recommend against using one for three to six months of solid bracing and dead lifting training. IMO you want to get a really good feel for pulling and bracing without a belt before you introduce one. [/quote]

I feel we will have to agree to disagree.
[/quote]

I should clarify about straps: I don’t like them because of how fiddly they are; and that’s largely because I use them so little. I’ll use them occasionally for snatch grip dead lifts if my hands are really beaten up, and I’ll use them for heavy rows so I don’t have to think about grip. I’ll happily admit that if you want to guarantee being able to hold the bar, they’re a huge help.

Belts I really think are something that should be eased into just to promote learning how to brace; although I guess you could use a belt to help you learn how to breathe even if you don’t use it to lift. My approach with belts is that until you can brace well enough to pull heavy-ish (1.5 times bw or more)without one, you shouldn’t really be using one.


#7

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I should clarify about straps: I don’t like them because of how fiddly they are; and that’s largely because I use them so little. I’ll use them occasionally for snatch grip dead lifts if my hands are really beaten up, and I’ll use them for heavy rows so I don’t have to think about grip. I’ll happily admit that if you want to guarantee being able to hold the bar, they’re a huge help.

Belts I really think are something that should be eased into just to promote learning how to brace; although I guess you could use a belt to help you learn how to breathe even if you don’t use it to lift. My approach with belts is that until you can brace well enough to pull heavy-ish (1.5 times bw or more)without one, you shouldn’t really be using one. [/quote]

I do not share your opinions on training, but I understand the position from which you speak on.


#8

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I should clarify about straps: I don’t like them because of how fiddly they are; and that’s largely because I use them so little. I’ll use them occasionally for snatch grip dead lifts if my hands are really beaten up, and I’ll use them for heavy rows so I don’t have to think about grip. I’ll happily admit that if you want to guarantee being able to hold the bar, they’re a huge help.

Belts I really think are something that should be eased into just to promote learning how to brace; although I guess you could use a belt to help you learn how to breathe even if you don’t use it to lift. My approach with belts is that until you can brace well enough to pull heavy-ish (1.5 times bw or more)without one, you shouldn’t really be using one. [/quote]

I do not share your opinions on training, but I understand the position from which you speak on.[/quote]

In this case I agree we must agree to disagree. BTW I just read your "All dead lifts are not created equal’ post and that I can DEFINITELY agree with.


#9

Grip seems wide with a tiny bit of bend in the elbows at the start.

You also started getting your cat arch on, strengthen your upper back - watch the position of your shoulder blades to begin with (it looks like you may have some mobility issues which is making you start with pretty rounded shoulders which won’t help the situation)


#10

I would suggest moving your feet a little closer together. This should allow you to get down to the bar easier. Also, with your feet and legs a little closer together you can bring your grip in too. That should help you stoop over less, and stop your from rowing/pulling with your arms to start the lift. Basically, you’ll feel more comfortable and it will feel more natural to deadlift.

Also, you touch your lower back before you lift. Then you use tons of lower back in the lift and really over extend your lower at the top/lockout.
Try touching your butt before each lift, and see if it helps you focus on driving with your glutes and pushing your hips through to finish the move.


#11

[quote]tsantos wrote:
Grip seems wide with a tiny bit of bend in the elbows at the start.

You also started getting your cat arch on, strengthen your upper back - watch the position of your shoulder blades to begin with (it looks like you may have some mobility issues which is making you start with pretty rounded shoulders which won’t help the situation)[/quote]

Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind and put my grip closer. My upper-back has always been a weak part of my body. I am contemplating to start Barbell Rows to help strengthen the muscles there. Aside from that, I believe my shoulders are really tight; I am not sure what to do about that problem.


#12

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
I would suggest moving your feet a little closer together. This should allow you to get down to the bar easier. Also, with your feet and legs a little closer together you can bring your grip in too. That should help you stoop over less, and stop your from rowing/pulling with your arms to start the lift. Basically, you’ll feel more comfortable and it will feel more natural to deadlift.

Also, you touch your lower back before you lift. Then you use tons of lower back in the lift and really over extend your lower at the top/lockout.
Try touching your butt before each lift, and see if it helps you focus on driving with your glutes and pushing your hips through to finish the move.[/quote]

How close together do I bring my feet in? I go about shoulder length, at least I think I do. I felt there was a problem with my arms in this recorded set of lifts. My triceps felt like they were actively pulling the weight which, I know is probably bad.

I never noticed I overextended my lower back at the top. I stopped doing the common hyperextension and I just try to stand straight up. Touching my glutes before lift? You mean to squeeze them as I perform the lift or to just check if they’re in position?


#13

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

I don’t really like to use equipment like belts. Belts discourage me because I don’t feel like I am pulling/pushing weights myself and rather the belt is doing a ton of work itself. The same issue is present for straps and I have never heard of chalk.

I pull overhand because I fear I will tear my biceps with a mixed grip.


#14

[quote]TheSoulstriker wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

I don’t really like to use equipment like belts. Belts discourage me because I don’t feel like I am pulling/pushing weights myself and rather the belt is doing a ton of work itself. The same issue is present for straps and I have never heard of chalk.

I pull overhand because I fear I will tear my biceps with a mixed grip. [/quote]

A lot of people seem to have the same view you do about belts, that they do the work for you, but if that’s the case then you wouldn’t be using it properly. Really all the belt is there for is something for you to push out against which then keeps all of your core tensed and helps you lift more/keep a better position. It is something that has to be learned but if you’re worried about hurting your back then it may be something to consider. That being said I take MarkKO’s view that you shouldn’t be using a belt until you can lift a significant amount of weight without, that is personal opinion though and one that I know many don’t share.

Straps same again really, I personally don’t use them when deadlifting but I use mixed grip and if I did double overhand I have no doubt that I would have to use them once I got heavy. That being said I do use them for rows/shrugs as they allow you to concentrate on using the muscles you want rather than thinking about holding on to the weight. If you’re not planning on competing (I say this because personally I don’t do grip exercises and like to know I can pull the weight in a comp.) and are struggling to hold on then it may be something to consider (although I feel that your worry about a torn bicep is somewhat misplaced)

Chalk is a must for me, as my gym has a ‘no chalk’ rule I use liquid chalk sneakily, although I would probably use it anyway just out of preference.

All this being said, you really should be able to keep a good back position beltless with 60kg, so either sorting out basic strength or flexibility issues is a must in my opinion


#15

[quote]TheSoulstriker wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

I don’t really like to use equipment like belts. Belts discourage me because I don’t feel like I am pulling/pushing weights myself and rather the belt is doing a ton of work itself. The same issue is present for straps and I have never heard of chalk.

I pull overhand because I fear I will tear my biceps with a mixed grip. [/quote]

I think I approached this topic with the incorrect hypothetical imperative. To clarify, is your training goal to become bigger and stronger, or is it more based in feeling like certain muscles are working?


#16

Striker-
Its hard to say exactly how close your feet should be, you really want to find whats most comfortable for you. But in your video, you don’t look very comfortable.

Check out the top or finish of your reps. Notice how far your hands are away from your hips. Instead of hanging straight down, your arms are kinda hanging at an angle. Your grip is wide, so in effect, you have shortened your arms. This means you have to bend or stoop over more, and basically get into a weak/bad position. Its also way easier grip wise to hold the bar with your arms hanging straight down.

With your arms hanging straight bend over to the bar. The inside of your arms should scrape against the outside of your legs. Your feet should be close enough together that your legs don’t force you to widen your grip.

Regarding the lower back/glutes; Look at the top of your second and 3rd reps. Your butt is still kind of stuck out behind you, like your legs aren’t fully locked out, then you keep bending bending bending at the lower back. You want your back to be straight, like a lever or crowbar. The back is straight, while the hips push through. Instead of touching your lower back with the back of your hand, just smack your butt real quick before you lift to get yourself thinking about driving those hips through.

Again, its just a matter of feeling comfortable. Try a few different hand and foot widths. When you “get it” the deadlift should feel like a very natural, short pull. Almost like you cheated because the pull is so short and controlled.

Punisher-
Don’t be bashful, post a link to your excellent “how I deadlift” explanation video. You really did a great job, and I’m basically just re-posting your material.


#17

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]TheSoulstriker wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

I don’t really like to use equipment like belts. Belts discourage me because I don’t feel like I am pulling/pushing weights myself and rather the belt is doing a ton of work itself. The same issue is present for straps and I have never heard of chalk.

I pull overhand because I fear I will tear my biceps with a mixed grip. [/quote]

I think I approached this topic with the incorrect hypothetical imperative. To clarify, is your training goal to become bigger and stronger, or is it more based in feeling like certain muscles are working?
[/quote]

At first I wanted to focus on bodybuilding, but then I realized I didn’t have the foundation of strength needed to keep on that route. So for now I am just attempting to get stronger. I don’t really care about my size for the moment, I feel I can worry about that later. For my routines I follow Stronglifts 5 x 5.


#18

[quote]rusty92 wrote:

[quote]TheSoulstriker wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Any reason you don’t wear a belt? It also looks like you are pulling double overhand with no chalk or straps. Is that intentional? [/quote]

I don’t really like to use equipment like belts. Belts discourage me because I don’t feel like I am pulling/pushing weights myself and rather the belt is doing a ton of work itself. The same issue is present for straps and I have never heard of chalk.

I pull overhand because I fear I will tear my biceps with a mixed grip. [/quote]

A lot of people seem to have the same view you do about belts, that they do the work for you, but if that’s the case then you wouldn’t be using it properly. Really all the belt is there for is something for you to push out against which then keeps all of your core tensed and helps you lift more/keep a better position. It is something that has to be learned but if you’re worried about hurting your back then it may be something to consider. That being said I take MarkKO’s view that you shouldn’t be using a belt until you can lift a significant amount of weight without, that is personal opinion though and one that I know many don’t share.

Straps same again really, I personally don’t use them when deadlifting but I use mixed grip and if I did double overhand I have no doubt that I would have to use them once I got heavy. That being said I do use them for rows/shrugs as they allow you to concentrate on using the muscles you want rather than thinking about holding on to the weight. If you’re not planning on competing (I say this because personally I don’t do grip exercises and like to know I can pull the weight in a comp.) and are struggling to hold on then it may be something to consider (although I feel that your worry about a torn bicep is somewhat misplaced)

Chalk is a must for me, as my gym has a ‘no chalk’ rule I use liquid chalk sneakily, although I would probably use it anyway just out of preference.

All this being said, you really should be able to keep a good back position beltless with 60kg, so either sorting out basic strength or flexibility issues is a must in my opinion
[/quote]

I don’t think I really should use a belt until I reach a high enough level of weight. Right now I am barely lifting above my bodyweight. I think I have to learn on how to keep my core tensed and tight. I’ve done it for my squats and I’m sure I could do it for my deads too. I will think about a belt although. Thanks for your suggestion.

I’ve heard from many people that straps take a lot of the element of grip training out from deadlifts. I might use straps for BB rows because my grip strength is weak right now and I have been neglecting them for a long time.
I will see to potentially buying liquid chalk; it seems very useful.


#19

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
Striker-
Its hard to say exactly how close your feet should be, you really want to find whats most comfortable for you. But in your video, you don’t look very comfortable.

Check out the top or finish of your reps. Notice how far your hands are away from your hips. Instead of hanging straight down, your arms are kinda hanging at an angle. Your grip is wide, so in effect, you have shortened your arms. This means you have to bend or stoop over more, and basically get into a weak/bad position. Its also way easier grip wise to hold the bar with your arms hanging straight down.

With your arms hanging straight bend over to the bar. The inside of your arms should scrape against the outside of your legs. Your feet should be close enough together that your legs don’t force you to widen your grip.

Regarding the lower back/glutes; Look at the top of your second and 3rd reps. Your butt is still kind of stuck out behind you, like your legs aren’t fully locked out, then you keep bending bending bending at the lower back. You want your back to be straight, like a lever or crowbar. The back is straight, while the hips push through. Instead of touching your lower back with the back of your hand, just smack your butt real quick before you lift to get yourself thinking about driving those hips through.

Again, its just a matter of feeling comfortable. Try a few different hand and foot widths. When you “get it” the deadlift should feel like a very natural, short pull. Almost like you cheated because the pull is so short and controlled.

Punisher-
Don’t be bashful, post a link to your excellent “how I deadlift” explanation video. You really did a great job, and I’m basically just re-posting your material.[/quote]

I don’t like keeping my legs in position of your toes pointing forward and all. I don’t have the flexibility for that posture. I believe I should spread my legs out wide with my toes pointed out just like my squats. I seem to feel the least amount of pain then.

Okay, I got that. I’ll move my arms in closer. I grip typically very wide and so I can see where you are going with this. I have noticed that my form suffers bad whenever I have a wide grip on any lift.

Thanks for the rest of your comments. I will keep what you said in mind.


#20

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
Punisher-
Don’t be bashful, post a link to your excellent “how I deadlift” explanation video. You really did a great job, and I’m basically just re-posting your material.[/quote]

In this situation, I don’t feel my style of deadlifting will be the best approach.