How to Deadlift with Proper Form

Last update: 09 August, 2018

It’s true that we do not consider the deadlift to be a ‘difficult’ exercise. However, there are some considerations that you should know in order to avoid unnecessary risk, and to take advantage of this movement.

Deadlift, is an exercise with the characteristics of gym and CrossFit routines. Despite its popularity, trying to achieve the correct technique is not always easy. It can cause injuries when done inappropriately. In order to avoid complications, we will tell you how to deadlift correctly.

It is an extremely beneficial exercise, since it allows several muscle groups to work simultaneously. These include your leg muscles, especially quadriceps and hamstrings, lower back, torso, hips and forearms. This is due to the necessary strength required to hold the bar.


Steps to deadlift with proper form

Next, we explain, step-by-step how to carry out the exercise in an appropriate way. If we follow the steps below, we will be working out in the right way:

  • Stand upright, with your feet shoulder width apart. Place the bar in the right spot on the floor, close to your shins.
  • In order to hold the bar, you can start to bend your knees slightly. Then, keeping your back straight, your abs tight and your chest out, bend down to hold the bar.
  • Your hands should hold the bar at a distance slightly greater than the width of your shoulders. Many people recommend a mixed grip for deadlifting, which means one hand in a pronated position and the other in a supinated position. In other words, one palm faces you and the other faces away. All this helps you to keep your grip on the bar.
  • As you return to the upright position, you want your legs to straighten out simultaneously, so your hips come completely in line. Your body weight should be distributed over your whole foot, not only on your toes or your heels.
  • Thrust your hips into the bar at the top of the move. This will force you to squeeze your glutes, so you finish upright. Your butt shouldn’t stick out, this movement culminates with your legs fully stretched.
  • Finish upright tall and strong, with your legs, arms and hips totally extended.


Mistakes to avoid

The worst mistake you can make when performing deadlifts is to flex your knees too soon. If you do, the bar will be down while your hip is still flexed.

By not having your knees ready, you will only be able to achieve full extension using your back strength. This can cause serious lumbar injuries.


On the other hand, it is also important to finish standing. Also, your shoulders should be relaxed, not too forward, and aligned with your hands upon lifting the bar.


Finally, do not forget to keep your feet and hands in a position that is comfortable for you. If you open or close more, you could be unstable which can cause bad movements or produce power and strength in a bad position. In the same way, keep your head up and your chest out.


Deadlift variations

Besides the traditional deadlift, there are also some variants of this exercise. In any case, it should be noted that the methodology that we explain, can be applied to all variations. Keeping your back straight is fundamental.

  • Sumo Deadlift: this dead weight consists of placing the tips of the feet outwards. In addition, the grip becomes more closed, almost with the hands together. The legs should be placed a little more open than for the normal deadlift.
  • Romanian Deadlift: this is carried out practically in the same way as the conventional one. You start by raising the bar in the same way and, when you descend, you do it only as far as you can go, going down with your back straight and your knees slightly bent.
  • Single Leg Deadlift: with a dumbbell or Russian weight, we will do the deadweight movement leaving one leg extended and carrying the other backwards, also stretched.
  • Medicine Ball Deadlift: This is practically the same as the one we do using a bar. The difference is that the ball is placed between the legs, when you lower them. In addition, the arms remain extended holding the ball by the sides. This can also be done with a kettlebell.


A final recommendation applicable for all cases, has to do with bar rounding. To do deadlift correctly with a proper technique, you must keep the bar close to your body as much as possible. This is important to bring the weight down and to bring the weight up to the initial position, in order to stay upright.


With these tips, you can start practicing or improving your deadlift. In addition to what we have discussed, it can also be useful to look at yourself in the mirror or ask your coach.

Either way, a good technique will be essential to enhance these benefits and to avoid injuries.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.