Don’t Be Scared of The Big Bad Deadlift

Monday, January 14, 2013





By: Trent Peterson

NASM Certified Personal Trainer, TheGym at 99 Sudbury


Don’t Be Scared of The Big Bad Deadlift


The conventional barbell deadlift, also known as the boogeyman of fitness exercises for beginners and weekend warriors who only worry about maxing out their bench press. The deadlift is one of the most beneficial exercises (along with the barbell squat) for developing total body strength and power. So instead of being intimidated, embrace the deadlift like you would any other exercise. Start out by using light weight and focusing on form and technique. Here is a step by step guide to help you conquer the deadlift so you can make it a staple in your exercise arsenal.

1. Setup with your feet shoulder width apart

2. Toes can be straight ahead or turned slightly outward, about 20 to 45 degrees

3. Shins should be a few inches away from the bar starting out

4. Grab the bar keeping in line with your shoulders (slightly outside your legs) with a double overhand grip starting out. As you begin to lift heavier weights, change to a mixed grip (one hand with an underhand grip, the other with an overhand grip)

5. Legs will be straight

6. Take a big breath filling your stomach to keep your core engaged, keep your eyes focused on a point about ten feet in front of you throughout the movement

7. Drop your hips as your knees shift forward toward the bar

8. Create tension in your upper back and lats by squeezing your armpits to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement

9. Push through your heels (as if you were trying to put your feet through the floor) to activate your quads for the initial lift off the floor, keep the bar against your body throughout the entire movement

10. Once the bar gets to your knees finish the movement with a powerful glute contraction, pushing your hips forward finishing in a straight line

11. Push the hips backward, keeping a neutral spine and the glutes and hamstrings engaged

12. The bar will move downward and once the bar reaches the knees, drop straight down and place the bar on the floor in the same starting position.

Things to Avoid

Avoid rounding the back, curving your lower back, or starting with the bar too far in front of your body. These actions will all make the deadlift a much more difficult exercise than it needs to be and may lead to injury. Like I stated earlier, start out with light weight, put the superman ego away and do the exercise properly, and I promise you will be making gains in no time.