When it comes to deadlifting correctly and maximizing your results, several things need to be understood in order to avoid the most common mistakes.
The deadlift is a posterior chain movement. Period. Personal trainers know that many football, basketball and hockey coaches make the mistake of teaching deadlifts as a squat — telling you to get your hips low. Unfortunately, this action forces you knees forward, which forces the bar forward. When this occurs while the lift is being performed, the hips have to rise, but now the bar is forward and you are no longer in a tight, compact position. The body’s natural motion will force the hips to rise to their strongest position. To solve this problem, start with your hips in the strongest position — allowing you to perform the deadlift how it should be done — with high hips. Keep in mind that optimal hip level will vary for each individual depending on limb length and your quad to hamstring balance ratio.
What many lifters do not know if that a properly performed deadlift is not a pull movement — but a push movement, and it always needs to be approached as such. Always focus on about driving through the floor with your legs, and not pulling the bar off the floor with your back. This approach will help prevent injury.
Setting Up For A Proper Lift
Step 1: Walk up to the bar, which should be directly over the midpoint of your foot. Set your feet shoulder width apart. Bend over and grab the bar so that your arms hang right outside your legs. You can use either an overhand grip, or overhand/underhand grip.
Step 2: Create a neutral spine by lowering your hips slightly. Keep your head neutral with only a very slight tilt up. Looking up too much will develop a tendency to pull the weight. It may help to look down at your feet and imagine driving them through the floor. Tighten up the upper and lower back. Sit your butt back so that your shoulders are directly above the bar. To tighten up your lower back think about flexing the hip flexors and the glutes at the same time. To tighten your upper back, squeeze your shoulder blades back, keeping the chest high and out. Another trick is to rotate your arms so that your elbows point directly behind you, which will engage your lats and bring them into the movement.
Step 3: Now squeeze your glutes and drive your feet into the ground, while keeping the bar close to your body. The bar should leave the ground at the same time your back and hips rise together. Once the bar reaches your knees, focus on squeezing the glutes and driving your hips forward to the bar. With the glutes engaged the whole time it should be one fluid movement as you go into knee extension and back extension. Do not over extend at the top. Lower the bar the same way, staying tight and keeping it close.
The three most important tricks to remember are:
- Keep the upper back tight
- Keep the butt back with a neutral lower back
- Drive the weight with your glutes
Below are several different forms of the Deadlift and their benefits:
- Conventional Deadlift: Greater Spinal Erector and Quad Activation
- Sumo Deadlift: Greater Glute Activation
- Trap Bar Deadlift: Greater Quad Activation
- Romanian Deadlift: Greater Hamstring Activation
Are you ready to deadlift? To learn more about the proper technique for performing deadlifts or to schedule your free fitness consultation with one of our personal trainers, please contact us here or call us directly at 616.259.9064.