T Nation

Shin Positioning for Deadlift


Hey guys I've been noticing that a lot of big pullers start with their shins about an inch or so off the bar, and the bar never really touches their legs during the lift...sometimes i wonder if my shins are too close, and if my hips are a little low, and just about my overall positioning at the start of the lift. What do you think?


Out of curiosity, which record pullers do you know of that keep the bar an inch away from their shins?


well i notice jim wendler pulls like that, and so does brian carroll...go watch brian carroll's deadlift technique video the bar doesnt even come close haha i was watching some random ass guy too that i subscribe to who just pulled 722 at 220 BW and he does that too.


I'm no expert, but I start in roughly the same start position as you. I'm guessing here, but I think we're similar body types, and that's what works best for me. I've read many times that your set up should have the bar lined up off of the shins, about mid-foot. I almost never get scrapes on my shins when I pull conventional, and I think that you and I have a similar body type.

My only thing that I can say about your form is this - it's hard to tell, but it looks like you don't quite get your hips fully forward right at the top of the movement. I know that in some of the stricter feds you may get red-lighted for not pulling your hips through - especially on a real slow grinder of a PR lift. I'm not sure if you're worried about that, it's such a small detail.

Great pull - it takes a lot of hard work to get up to that kind of weight!


Don't mind my quick hijack of this thread...

OP could you share your deadlift routine?

Okay hijack complete.


First I think your form looks pretty good. I would only suggest two things 1) to sit back a bit more, not lower the hips, but sit back. More like getting slightly more on your heels. Your second rep is a bit closer to what I am saying than the first one, but not much. And 2) try and find a way to work some body tension into your set-up. What I mean by this is bend down and grab the bar, get your air, set your back, drop the hips and pull back. This will let you get some pre-stretch in the hamstrings and you'll get a little more pop off the floor. It's like using the stretch reflex in the squat.

While not a perfect pull on my part as I shoot the hips just a little this is what I mean on the set up.

I personally, don't think it is bad for the bar to ride or hit the shins. Something else you can try though is to toe out slightly and push your knees out a bit. This allows for a little more space for the bar and actually will give you a little more power at the floor as well. Best of luck!


The bar starts close to my shins and I've never hit my shins with it.


yeah i need to work on not scraping the shins because once in a while i will...jakerz you're definitely right about all of that. i definitely need to work on those things you mentioned. and ghost16, im a huge fan of 5/3/1 with the Boring But Big assistance option...my workout structure is incredibly simple hahaha my only advice really is to lift hard and heavy. once in a while ill take a week or two off from deads too to rest my central nervous system. honestly though, i think the most important assistance for my deadlift has been my squat. i actually havent deadlifted consistently until this past september, because i was playing football for my first few years of college and we never really did them...when we did we would use the trap bar...so i would credit my base strength with my squats...the first time i deadlifted last september i did 405 for 5, so i had a good base built up....with the help of 5/3/1, im pulling the numbers you see above. just did 505 for 6 last night too actually. but yeah sorry if that's not great advice, im not a guru or anything haha


and thanks to everyone also very helpful comments.


Interesting thread.

I know a lot of pullers think you need bloody shins to be successful. To me, that seems like it would just create friction on the pull. I occasionally hit my shins, but not often. That being said, if the bar is much in front of the shins it will add pounds to the pull, making it that much harder.

And to jakerz96: I'm always surprised when I see people pull with knee sleeves. If the bar is in close, how do they not get in the way for you? And what's the benefit of wearing them to DL?


JLederach always enjoy watching vids of your beast pulls.

Your never stop learning and improving mentality goes to show that well you never stop learning and improving even when you get into (everyone at the gym leaving the rack area when you go there after deadlifting to start some assistance even though you are wearing deodarant and wearing fresh undies) beast level.

I can't really comment on what is the optimal shin to bar distance to lift big weight because I really don't know. What I can say from my experiences is that I used to cut up my shins really bad than invested in some shin guards that have saved me lots of skin cells.

Even if you "once in a while" cut up your shins as you said wearing the guards might save you some mental energy of worrying about it that you can invest to lift more.


I'll also wear knee sleeves and don't seem to hit them. I don't recall ever hitting my shins or knees with a deadlift. Here's 560 x 2 from last week.


With the pulling stoke that I've developed the bar usually contacts my shins right off the floor. This is why I wear the long socks and actually under them is a thin piece of plastic and foam and the socks seem to put less resistance on the bar than hitting my skin and it doesn't hurt as bad which I find especially important in training.

The knee sleeves I wear for two reasons. They keep my knees warm which just keeps them feeling better and I have longish femurs and when a sit back and pull back the bar contacts my knees on the way up and again the sleeve exterior is slicker than my skin on the bar. I have been working on pushing my knees out so this contact doesn't happen and I can pull back more, but it just comes a little at a time. I could just use baby powder everywhere I suppose to lubricate things, but I don't really want to do that and the knee sleeves just feel good.


i have scars on my shins from my deads. i split them open every meet. With the tall socks, ill coat my shins and legs in baby powder. But i definitely drag the bar up.
here is a 590 pull from Saturday


I line the bar up with the first lace on my shoe. This puts the bar right at the knuckle of my big toe. I wear a size 15 shoe so I am probably a good 4-5inches from the bar when I set up. The bar needs to travel up and back. If you initiate the lift with the bar digging into your shins, it can only go up. It is more a hip hinging/mobility problem to have to start with the bar so close to your shins.


You mean don't have the bar over the middle of the foot?


I just recently watched Carroll instruct a younger lifter on video to pull the bar farther back towards his shin and to sit back further leveraging his shins to almost upright using the weight of the bar to balance. I've tried it and had some good results, but i need to increase my mobility to really use that technique.


Personally when it comes to deadlifting I love to watch Tuscherer. I think he has one of the most beautiful deadlifts ever. When you pulls, you will see that he sits super far back and uses the bar as leverage to stay in that position. Thus, the bar is right up against his shins. I think this is a much mroe efficient pulling position.


yeah i agree that is a nice pull


Mike Tuchscher's pull is the tits.