How To Do A Deadlift Correctly, Proper Deadlifting Technique

How To Do A Deadlift Correctly, Proper Technique

Learn How To Do A Deadlift Properly and Improve Your Form

Chains and Deadlifts3 ways To maximize Your Workouts (1)

Published by: Femi Doyle-Marshall

Written by: Brandonn Cole – CSEP-CEP, CSCS



Exercise, when done correctly can be an excellent way to improve one’s self both physically and mentally. When done incorrectly, it can lead to injury, in both acute and chronic forms that manifest in various way. That is why as an exercise professional it can be extremely frustrating when one sees a person do an exercise, especially a complicated one, incorrectly. This is often seen with the back breaking, shoulder dislocating, hamstring-pulling deadlift.

Yes, the deadlift.

The exercise that is secondly only to squats in most gyms. With the ability to access information instantly, complicated exercises are often viewed online and then attempted with no formal instruction. Too often does this lead to incorrect form and ultimately injury. Today, I would like to clarify some point that may ultimately lead you to safer, stronger workout routines.

First, make sure one selects the appropriate weight.


Barbell on Floor for Deadlifts


For most people this can either just the olympic bar, 10 lbs bumper plates or 45 lbs plates (bumper or regular). The bar shoulder several inches above the ground at the starting point (8+ inches). In some facilities, they may not have the correct size of bars or plates and changes have to be made accordingly. It may be best to start the exercise from a platform or safety bar several inches above ground, if necessary.


Facing the bar, with a shoulder-width stance, place your feet forward underneath the bar as close to your shins as possible. Bend your knees and hips as you grab the bar outside your legs, about an inch from your shins with a pronated, closed grip. Make sure your knees are not over toes and are in line with your feet. At this point, your weight may not be distributed evenly. Shift your weight to your heels, this may mean you might have to re-adjust your knees and hips. Right now, you may be in a semi squat position.

Deadlift in Garage


Tension now becomes extremely important. Have your chest out, shoulders back, flat back, head looking up and your butt sticking out. All these muscles should be contracted and your heels should be on the floor. This is the most important part of the exercise. A proper form in the lumbar spine will help ensure that an exercise is done correctly and safely.

Slowly lift the bar off the ground by extending your knees and hips at the same time and maintain a rigid posture. As the bar rises above your knees, continue to extend your hips forward. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Continue to extend until both your knees and hips finish at the same time and you are in an upright position, maintaining contraction throughout the body.

While descending and maintaining proper body positioning (head, back, shoulders etc.), shift your hips back and flex your knees as the bar begins to go downwards evenly, until the bar touches the ground. You should be in the same position as when you started. This exercise should be done slowly, especially for beginners.

This video by Femi captures how to do a deadlift well.


There are several pitfalls that people usually fall into when doing this exercise. Below is a list of corrections that beginners should look out for:

  • A big issue that I notice, are people not extending and finishing their knees and hips at the same rate. This often leads to large forces being placed through the spine. Make sure that your knees and hips finish extending evenly and equally. This is to make sure that your legs have the appropriate forces going through them. Remember! Your legs are meant to lift things, not your back.
  • This exercise is the definition of “lift with your legs.” However, because there is a great deal of forces going through the spine, it’s important to train one’s abdominals adequately for continuing on a program that regularly includes deadlifting. Strengthening one’s abdominals will create stabilizing forces throughout the spine, allowing safer and stronger movements.
  • Do not hyperextend the final position. You may see this in the gym or in a video. It’s horrible, unnecessary risk that people seem to do because they saw someone else do so. Hyperextending while deadlifting puts excessive stress on the posterior part one’s intervertebral disk, in addition to increased forces on the spine as a whole. This can lead to muscle sprains, strains or pinched nerves, which can shut down a person for months at a time and cause lingering issues in other parts of the body.

Deadlifting in

Additional information:

  • If you look in a mirror the bar should be going up and down, vertically. The only exception may be to clear your knees. If you’ve done a few deadlifts in your life, you understand when the bar hits your patella with a heavy weight, it can be very painful. You may have to move the bar half an inch forward in order to not hurt yourself when ascending and descending.
  • Shin scarring is a real possibility when deadlifting. You must keep the bar as close as possible throughout the exercise while keeping weight on your heels. This means that often, you may be pulling into your body against your legs. The rough surface of the bar can peel away skin; it’s a reality of the exercise. I would recommend high socks, long pants (ie. lulu’s), or special tape when doing this exercise.
  • Keep the bar as close to your body as possible throughout the whole exercise. Usually when there is a gap between the bar and legs, there is some sort of improper form going on. This can cause stress on the shoulders as the bar may sway when lifting, or other lumbar issues. Remember to keep your weight on your heels. This may lead you to pulling the bar into your body slightly. That’s ok, it’s still safer than the alternative.
  • Do not compound a squat and a deadlift if you’re a beginner. That type of strain with two complicated, lower back heavy exercises and a lack of abdominal strength is an injury waiting to happen.

I hope that with these tips will help you to complete your next exercise session safely and correctly. I know that with proper instruction, one will safely see improvements in their form and ability.


Teaching Deadlift Tecnique


Here’s a tip: If you are someone who is motivated but are new to exercise and you decide to hire a trainer, buy only a few sessions (3-5). Don’t bother with a long term package. Ask them to demonstrate specific exercises and familiarize yourself with a facility. Ask them to design a workout plan for you and get a physical copy. Now, some facilities may give you a copy, some may not as it cuts into their revenue. However, by doing this you can have exercises such as squats or deadlifts taught by professionals.


Be sure to visit our STRENGTH FORUM, our online community for your specific questions relating to your goals.


3 ways To maximize Your Workouts (1)

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.