Without a doubt, the deadlift should be a recurring move in your workouts. It is by far one of the most powerful moves in weightlifting and for that reason it is the foundation of any good weightlifting plan.
It is important to familiarise yourself fully with this exercise before you load it. Beyond the basics you should continue to work on improvements with time and experience.
How to perform a deadlift
A deadlift should do exactly what it says; ‘dead’ – lift; meaning you should pick the weight up ‘dead’ off the floor with every single rep. As a side note; there are variations which do not require this stop and start approach. These include the Romanian or stiff legged deadlift. However, with that said, this page is focused solely on the traditional deadlift.
To begin with, you’ll need a loaded barbell. If you are a complete beginner, practice this exercise using a fixed barbell and a couple of raisers (steps, or some weight plates). The start position of the bar on the floor should be around the bottom of your shins.
Start by standing with your toes slightly under the bar and feet at shoulder width apart, then reach down and grip the bar wherever you feel comfortable. Directly below your shoulders is the ideal position.
While holding onto the bar, flatten your back and point your bum up in the air, look up, keep your chest high and your back neutral.
Before you enter into the lift, brace yourself for the load. Then, dip your hips back ever so slightly and pull the bar up off the floor to hip height. Lock your knees and hips at the top as you squeeze your glutes. Finally; hold for a couple of seconds. Then slowly bring the bar back down to the floor, through the same controlled movement.
Be mindful that you are driving the weight through your hips and not ‘lifting’ with your arms.
Deadlift: Common mistakes to avoid
For most people their deadlift will be the exercise that they can move their maximum weight through. Of course, when you’re moving a lot of weight, you need to be sure that you are doing so correctly and safely.
The most important thing by far is to ensure that your back is as neutral as possible throughout this exercise. You should avoid rounding your back or over-exaggerating the lower back arch.
Incidentally; the first thing to go on your deadlift is usually grip. Under those circumstances; you can start using switch grip. Switch grip will see you place one hand over and one hand under when gripping the bar. Ultimately, his will help you to keep hold of the bar for longer. Alternatively, you can look into getting some straps for additional grip assistance.
As a final side note; it should also be noted that lifting chalk is excellent for grip assistance on all pull lifts.
Reps and sets
The deadlift is undoubtedly one of your most powerful moves and it should be the basis of any good workout plan. How many reps and sets you perform with each exercise depends entirely on where you are physically and your desired outcomes. Just know that this compound exercise is your fast track to overall strength and power.
Beginners should keep it simple; 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is an ideal starting point. Don’t over complicate things early on, worry about laying a solid foundation and the rest will come with experience.
More advanced lifters should consider their current strength and goals, see our One Rep Max Calculator for further guidance.
Beyond the deadlift...
More leg exercises coming soon...
Just so you know, this list of leg exercises is a work in progress and is by no means extensive. We will continue to grow this entire database for you over time, so be sure to check back for updates. Alternatively, you can join our mailing list below and you’ll be the first to know about all new content we produce.