Big Five’s Favourite Squat Exercises

There’s no getting around the fact that squat exercises are a staple of many top-notch exercise routines. A squat workout isn’t mandatory for a fit and healthy lifestyle, and may not need to feature in your exercise routine. But there’s no denying that squats are one of the big dogs of lifting. If you consider yourself interested in, or partial to a good old squat, check out our three favourite squat exercises.

1. The Bodyweight Squat
The bodyweight squat features no bar or additional weights; it’s an excellent place to begin if you’re new to squatting, or prefer to train for mobility and fitness rather than optimal strength gain. Make no mistake, correct form when conducting a bodyweight squat is nothing to shirk at, and cranking through the repetitions will give you a serious burn. Mastering this exercise can be a beautiful step forward for the fitness of your body.

To perform a standard bodyweight squat, start from a standing position with shoulders back, and feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending your knees, paying careful mind to your hips, which you should push back as far as you can whilst keeping your back arched and your chest up. Lower yourself until the bend of your hips sits below the top arch of the knee. Reverse the movement to return to your initial position to complete one repetition.
2. Bulgarian Split Squat

An excellent way to train balance, as well as to iron out strength imbalances between legs, the Bulgarian split squat exercise is extremely popular. The split squat is a fantastic way to build strength if you do not have access to as many weights, as it’s easier to overload the muscles of one leg with lighter resistance.

Paying attention to your balance and comfort with the movement itself is highly recommended. Form, as with all squat exercises in particular and gym exercises more generally, is the name of the game. You can begin without any weight whatsoever, and you’ll still face a high degree of difficulty. So make sure you take time to master the movement before adding dumbbells or barbells to the activity.

To perform the Bulgarian split squat, position yourself the length of one lunge in front of a bench, step, or platform. Place one foot on the platform, and once balanced, begin a descent into the squat position, engaging the muscles of your front leg with your hips pushed back and your chest up.

Allow your back leg to bend, but keep the top of your foot on the platform for balance. Descend until your front knee is parallel to the ground at 90 degrees, your rear knee touches the floor, or until balance permits. Reverse the motion to complete a repetition.

 

3. The Barbell Back Squat
One of the most tried and trusted methods of lower body strength training, the barbell back squat is the quintessential squat exercise you’re likely to have come into some contact with before. As the most frequently utilised method of squatting, the barbell back squat offers an unmatched level of lower body mass development. If you’re looking to gain, are serious about perfect form, and want to hit every aspect of musculature in your lower body, you’ll want to consider the back squat.

Conducted with similar technique to the bodyweight squat, the barbell back squat requires the placement of a barbell across the upper back, resting appropriately under the top of the trapezius. We recommend consultation with a fitness professional to ensure your barbell back squat form is to the required standard.


10 Ways Stress is Keeping You from A Fit, Healthy Body

 
Some people think that stress is an exclusively mental phenomenon, whilst a healthy body is purely a factor of physical causation. But this view is misleading at best, and dangerous at worst.

The reality is that stress manifests in the mind just as it manifests physiologically. Similarly, just as the health of the body is a product of what you eat and how you use it, it’s necessarily a product of how you think and process the world—for it’s how you choose to act that impacts the health of your body.  And the short of it is that stress affects how people act.

You can think of this blog, then, as a look into the way stress prevents people from acting in a way most conducive to the maintenance of a fit, healthy body.

1.Stress Affects Your Decision Making Process

There are multiple causes of stress, and a number of key stress symptoms to be aware of. The fact that stress affects our decision making capabilities has obvious knock-on effects for the maintenance of a healthy body. It stands to reason that if you’re stressed, just getting yourself to follow through with your exercise routine could prove more of a battle than usual.

2. Stress Can Affect Your Diet

If stress affects your ability to make decisions, then it’s no surprise that your diet might suffer as a result. According to research conducted at Harvard, high stress levels affect your brain’s ability to measure how hungry you are, and also how full you are when you eat a meal.

3. Stress Negatively Influences Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for a healthy functioning body. High levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) has many negative physiological influences, and contributes to many stress symptoms. Reduced ability to fall asleep, along with the ability to sleep deeply, is a product of high cortisol levels.

4. Stress Affects Your Ability to Work Out

Working out can be an excellent way to release tension. But when stress levels are too high, both mental and physical fatigue come into play, reducing your ability to get the most out of your exercise.

5. Stress Affects Recovery

Even if you make it to the gym, your body’s response to high stress will tax you of the vital resources required to repair your body at the optimal rate. This can lead to overtraining and a perpetual cycle of fatigue.

6. Stress Doesn’t Care About the Future

Cortisol release is designed to get you moving now: it’s your body’s way of preparing for anything that could happen in the present. The price we pay for this is a hefty tax to our immune system, making us more susceptible to disease, injury, and various physical conditions.

7. Stress Perpetuates Stress

A healthy body perpetuates better decisions, positive emotion, and in turn, a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, chronic stress levels contribute to many stress symptoms, many of which we’ve covered so far. These symptoms in turn function as causes of stress, and the cycle continues.

8. Stress Makes it Hard to Pay Attention

Stress affects your ability to concentrate by dominating your mental resources, but it also makes it harder to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. This can lead to detrimental decision making and overtraining—and that’s putting it nicely.

9. Stress Prevents Relaxation

Stress and relaxation are effectively opposites. And we need relaxation time to properly refresh our minds and our bodies.

10. Weight Loss and Health Risks

It is thought that raised levels of cortisol impair your body’s ability to burn fat. But this is merely a solitary effect amongst a plethora of health risks associated with raised cortisol levels, as cortisol suppresses your immune system.


How to Lose Weight: Top 5 Myths Busted

With so many proclaimed ‘weight loss’ tricks out there, how is one to separate the fact from the fiction? If you are looking for a quick way to lose weight, then unfortunately you may be disappointed. There is no real way to achieve long-term weight loss, unless you are dedicated, committed and have all the right knowledge at hand.

There is an age-old expression that says if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. So, we’ve collated the top 5 weight loss myths that are definitely too good to be true, to help you burn fat the healthy way.

Starving yourself
The idea of ‘crash diets’ isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. If you have ever tried one, you’ll know they simply don’t work. Even though you may lose weight fast to begin with, your metabolism will catch up after a few weeks, resulting in the weight piling back on. Not only can this have a negative effect on your physical state, but also your mental health too.

All calories are created equal
A calorie is a measure of energy. There is a myth that all calorie sources have the same effect on weight loss. However, the metabolic pathways that food passes through can vary depending on the type of food in question. As such, different foods can have different effects on hunger, as well as the hormones that regulate body weight.

Supplements can help with weight loss
The industry for weight loss supplements is growing at an increasing pace. There are all sorts of different products on the market, all of which claim to have dramatic effects.

Interestingly though, research has found that one of the main reasons that supplements have an effect on weight loss, is due to the placebo effect. This is where people are more conscious of what they are eating and what exercise they are doing, because they are taking supplements.

There are some supplements that can help with weight loss, but only if used in conjunction with healthy eating and regular exercise. Supplements alone are not a one-way ticket to weight loss.

Carbs make you fat
Restricting yourself to a low-carb diet can help with weight loss. However, this does not mean that an excess amount of carbs is the direct cause of weight gain.
Refined carbohydrates, like sugar and grains, can definitely be one cause of weight gain. However, whole foods and carbohydrates with high carob contents can be very healthy in moderation.

Skinny equals healthy
There is a common misconception that being thin equates to being healthy. However, there is a term that is medically known as metabolically obese normal weight – or ‘skinny fat’. This is a phrase that describes someone who looks fit and healthy on the outside, however due to a lack of exercise and poor diet, are at an increasing risk of inner-health problems.

When losing weight, you want to avoid the mentality that being skinny equates to being healthy. This is something that can be discussed further with a health or fitness professional, ensuring that you are maximising your gym-routine to instil healthy weight-loss practices.


Weight Training: Top Tips for Women

The days of lycra or leotard clad ladies grape-vining across the aerobics studio are slowly receding. With the number of women taking up weight training steadily increasing, most women know that this form of exercise isn’t going to turn them into a bodybuilder overnight. The myth that weight training will make you big and bulky is simply a myth. Similarly, lifting puny pink dumbbells simply won’t get you a lean, fit body.

That’s why we’ve come up with our top weight-training tips for women, designed to help the ladies maximize their hours at the gym.

Never skip the warm up

Working cold and stiff muscles can lead to preventable injuries. It is important to warm up before you conduct any weights or strength training. This helps to improve your range of motion and prepares your joints and muscles for exercise.

Our favourite warm ups include simple activities like jogging or using a rowing machine for five minutes, just to get the heart rate up and your muscles ready for action. Follow this up with 10 to 20 lunges, squats and pushups, just prior to starting your strength routine.
We usually do some kind of dynamic stretching as well before starting, but there’s no need for any static stretching, this may actually be making your lifting worse.

Implement proper form

In order to really maximize your form as a female weight trainer, it is important to pay close attention to retaining proper form. Due to naturally wider hips, women are unfortunately more at risk for form-related injuries compared to men. Women’s knees have a tendency to turn in, due to the angle that wider hips create – this is something important to keep in mind as a female strength trainer.

Before you begin any exercise, ensure you stand straight, with your eyes looking ahead to the horizon, and really concentrate on the exercise or movement that you are about to perform. Visualize the correct form, and then implement it.

Work opposing muscle groups

Strength imbalances occur in both men and women, causing them to be more prone to injuries. They can be the result of a number of factors, from lifestyle (such as sitting at a desk all day, or standing for long periods of time) or not paying close attention to both sides of your body equally.

For every exercise that targets the muscles at the front of your body (such as your chest, quads, and biceps), be sure to follow it up with an exercise that targets the muscles at the rear of your body (such as the back, hamstrings, and triceps.) This will help to balance your body, decreasing your risk of injury and creating an overall balanced tone.

Don’t burn out

There is a large misconception that the more reps, sets or weights you do, the better your workout is. However, this is not always the case. If you increase any of these elements too quickly, your body may not be able to handle it. Gradual increases in reps, set and weights can prevent torn ligaments and other injuries, as it gives your connective tissues and muscles time to adapt.

Train with the right intensity

If you don’t train with intensity, then you just won’t get the results you want. The problem is, there’s no specific number when it comes to intensity: everyone has a different fitness level and a different strength threshold. The best way to think about it is that whenever you do a set of exercises, the last rep should be tough. You should be able to finish one more after your last; two reps at the absolute most.

If you finish your set feeling as though you could have done another 20 reps, then you’re not working with anywhere near enough intensity. Intensity is what challenges your muscles, and helps you build a fit, lean body.

If you’re thinking of getting into weight lifting or training, look no further than Big 5 Fitness. When conducting strength training for women, we put our heart and soul into it. We create tailored programs for females, working together to maximize strength and achieve milestones that they never thought possible.


How to Get the Most Out of Your Weight Training Program

 

There’s no point in messing around when it comes to exercise—it’s crucial to create (and stick to!) a fitness regime that maximizes the time you spend at the gym. The good news is, when it comes to a weight training program, there are lots of tips, tricks and techniques that you can implement to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

  1. Stick to a schedule

While training once a week is better than not training at all, if you really want to reap the rewards of resistance training, then you’re going to have to make enough time for a workout at least two to three days per week. Keep in mind that you should also build in rest days. This is crucial for proper recovery.

  1. Quality over quantity

If you are making time to workout, it is important that it is time well spent. Don’t put too much pressure on the actual weight that you might be lifting, but more on the response of your muscles and the quality of your lifting. I like to never go to failure, so make sure you have one or two reps left in the tank at the end of a set.

  1. Slow and steady wins the race

Moving too quickly through your sets can have detrimental results. Not only are you at risk of injury, but you can also be at risk of losing momentum within your workout. Move at a steady pace that your body feels comfortable with. This will ensure you are targeting the correct muscle areas, and being safe while doing so.

  1. Compound lifts

Compound lifts are king. Get good at the basics, like squats and presses, before focusing on isolating moves to a certain muscle.

  1. Don’t stop

Avoid resting for too long when completing multiple sets. If you power through each set without stopping, you will really feel the burn and get the most from your resistance-training program. It is vital not compromise your form though. Form must win out over speed every time. If you work for pure strength or power, rest needs to be longer.

  1. Use more equipment

When attempting to maximize your resistance workouts, the more equipment the merrier. Experienced gym-goers can utilize various apparatus’ to create a challenge for themselves. Holding a medicine ball while squatting, or using a resistance band while lifting weights can be a simple way to work a number of different muscles during your workout.

  1. Mix it up, but not too often

Adding variety to your resistance training program will keep your body from getting injured. However you need to stick to a program for a while before changing it. 4-6 weeks is a good time before it’s time to change it up. The big lifts should always be in there in some way however.


Why Fat Loss is More Important Than Weight Loss

 

While body weight is often used as an indicator of progress, the scales aren’t the best indicator of weight loss. When people work hard to change their physical appearance, they tend to get discouraged if they don’t see the kilos coming off each week.

Generally speaking, most people think that in order to change their body composition, they have to loose weight. People neglect to see that fat, muscle, bone, and water all play an integral role in the number that is shown on the bathroom scales.

So, for the record, let’s start with a couple of quick definitions:

  • Weight loss refers to reducing your body weight. This includes the sum of your bones, muscles, organs, and water – as well as the body fat.
  • Fat loss means reducing your body fat percentage and the amount of fat that your body carries. For men, 15-25% body fat is considered healthy, compared to 20-30% for women.

Right, now that we have those definitions sorted, you should be able to see that your body weight actually includes a number of things:

  • Muscle: 30-55% of body weight
  • Fat: 10-30% of body weight
  • Water: 10-25% of body weight
  • Bone: 15% of body weight
  • Organs and other tissues: 10-15% of body weight

The more you understand these different variables, the more you can understand the various factors that can contribute to weight loss on the scales. In reality, your body fat percentage is the most reliable way of measuring your body weight, not the number on the bathroom scales. Your scales are an unreliable and irrelevant method of measurement, due to a number of reasons:

  • Water weight: With water making up about 50-65% of your body, it can certainly account for a large portion of your weight. Quickly losing water weight can help you to shed kilos in the short term, however it is usually only temporary.
  • Muscle gain and fat loss: When you’re working hard to lose fat, you will also be gaining muscle. However, on the weight scale, this will not translate into results.

How to Loose Fat, Not Muscle

There are a number of different techniques you can implement that help you lose fat, not muscle:

  • Get stronger: Undertaking regular strength training can help you build muscle, increase your metabolism, fight the signs of ageing, and help reduce the risk of injuries. Take a look at our recent article, Why Building Muscle is So Important, for more details.
  • Eat healthier: Eating a cleaner and more balanced diet can help you with fat loss. When attempting to lose fat, there are a number of different alternatives to the traditional weight scale. These can help you create realistic expectations for your body, leaving you feeling positive about your progress, rather than discouraged.
  • Stop weighing yourself: The fluctuations in the scales (which can be due to a whole range of different factors) can demotivate you, bringing down your confidence, will power and making you less likely to preserve.
  • Track body fat: Fat Calipers can track your skin-folds, something that can be measured as an indicator of fat loss. Do this at fortnightly or monthly intervals.
  • Measure: Taking measurements of your neck, chest, waist, arms and thighs can help you to track your progress. While some may go up due to increased muscle content, your waist should go down.
  • Gym statistics: Log your workouts and take note of each progress step you are taking. This can assist you to feel motivated, as measurable results can help indicate where you are succeeding.

 


Healthy Smoothie Recipes

 

A healthy smoothie can be a convenient, quick and easy way to give your body the essential nutrients it requires. Not only are they a simple way to help you achieve your daily fruit intake, but they are also a delicious breakfast substitute!

Just be sure to keep one important thing in mind when it comes to smoothies: while they can definitely be healthy, they can also contain quite a few calories. So, keep an eye on your overall daily calorie intake if you like to indulge in a smoothie for breakkie each day.

The best way to know the exact ingredients that are going into your smoothie is to prepare and make it yourself. All you need is a blender and some simple components.

We’ve put together some of our favourite healthy smoothie recipes, perfect for any times of day!

Banana and Ginger Smoothie

Filled with ginger, this smoothie can help soothe heartburn, nausea, digestion and other stomach trouble.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x banana, sliced
  • ¾ x cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 x tbsp of honey
  • ½ x tsp of ginger (freshly grated is best)

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz until you reach your desired texture.

 

Big 5 Berry Breakkie

Start your day with a bang, with this fruit-packed smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x cup raspberries (frozen or fresh is fine, depending on the season)
  • ¼ x cup of blueberries (again, fresh or frozen is fine)
  • ¾ x cup of almond, soy, or rice milk
  • 1½ x tbsp of honey
  • 2 tsp x fresh ginger (finely grated)
  • 1 tsp x ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp x lemon juice

Optional extras:

  • Your protein powder of choice

Method:

Place all ingredients (apart from the lemon) in a blender and whizz until you reach your desired texture. Add the lemon juice to taste.

 

Strawberry-Kiwi Smoothie

With high levels of Vitamin C, this smoothie can help you fight disease and stay full for longer.

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ x cup apple juice
  • 1 x ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 x kiwifruit, sliced
  • 5 x strawberries
  • 1½ x tsp honey

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz until you reach your desired texture.

 

Apricot-Mango Delight

This sweet smoothie is perfect for the summer months.

Ingredients:

  • 6 x apricots, chopped
  • 2 x ripe mangoes, chopped
  • 1 x cup of reduced-fat milk or low-fat yogurt
  • 4 x tsp of lemon juice
  • ¼ x tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 x ice cubes

Method:

Combine mangoes, apricots, milk or yogurt, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a blender. Process for about 8 seconds, or until almost smooth. Add the ice cubes, then process until smooth.


Travel Workouts 101

 

As the winter months progress, we often find ourselves chasing the sun, quitting Melbourne’s grey skies and drizzle, and heading up north (or even OS) for a break. Regardless of whether it’s a quick trip out of town or an adventure across the world, our exercise routines change dramatically when we travel.

We get it. It’s hard to stay motivated while you travel. Everything is new and exciting, so getting in a travel workout may seem like the last thing on your mind. However, when it comes to routine and habit, it’s vital that you stay on track while on holiday, especially if you are indulging in some well deserved holiday food temptation.

So, unless you’re spending your holiday with a group of personal trainers, here are some simple travel workouts, that will help you stay active, wherever you are in the world.

 

Make a Game Plan

Before you leave home, making a few simple preparations can help to instil your fitness mindset for your trip. Pack your gym clothes at the top of your suitcase; making them the first thing you see when you unpack. Research the gym facilities at your accommodation ahead of time, this can help you to know what you are working with and plan accordingly. As if your accommodation has no gym facilities, this will also help you to pack the necessary equipment for your workouts.

Walk. Walk. Walk.

When you’re in a new destination, the best way to see everything is to walk it. Not only can this help you soak up the sights and sounds, but it is also a great way to do some exercise. Build time into your schedule for morning walks, as a 30-minute brisk stroll will refresh your muscles and give you some energy for the day.

Rent a Bike

Bikes can be found in just about every city, helping you to cover more ground and see the sights in a shorter amount of time. After hours of travel, nothing can help to gently loosen your body and stiff joints like low-impact cycling.

Pack the Essentials

When travelling, you may not always have access to a top of the range hotel gym. However, there are a number of light, easy things that you can bring yourself, which can add to the quality of your workout.

Skipping ropes are lightweight and easy to pack, they are also a great way to get a tough workout can quickly burn fat and improve your cardiovascular system.

Resistance bands are great because they take up very little space. They also come in a variety of resistance degrees and require little room in which to train.

While they might be a little larger, foam rollers are a great form of myofascial release that can smooth and lengthen your muscles. These are great after long hours of travel, helping you stretch muscles that have been stationary for a significant period of time.

You are Your Greatest Asset

No matter where you train, no piece of gear can dictate the quality of your workout. Think about the sessions that you do regularly at BIG 5 – so many of the exercise can be done with zero equipment. Squats, lunges, planks, pushups, and jumping jacks – the possibilities really are endless. No matter what your fitness level, all you need is the motivation and drive to succeed.

Travelling workouts can be as simple as you want them to be. However, if you put in the effort while on holiday, it will greatly improve and maintain the fitness level you have worked so hard to get back home. Being in a new place is a great opportunity to relax, but it is also a great opportunity to test yourself, applying the skills you learnt back home in a new and exciting environment.

 


Which Bread is Best?

 

Buying the best bread type isn’t as simple as it used to be. With so many loaves on the market, it can sometimes be confusing to separate the jargon and find the best bread for you. While we all want healthy bread, it sometimes comes with a sacrifice of taste. It’s also getting harder and harder to distinguish which bread is high in what, and how they’re really contributing to your dietary intake.

We wanted to help you with this dilemma, creating a simple guide that can help you to distinguish the pros and cons, answering the question once and for all: Which bread is best?

All wheat grains can be sub-divided into three sections:

  • The bran, which is the exterior husk, constitutes 15% of the grain and is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • The core comprises over 80% of the grain, formed by an endosperm that houses proteins and carbohydrates.
  • The rest of the wheat grain consists of the germ, which also contains a significant amount of fat, minerals, protein and vitamins. 

White Bread

So many people grew up on white bread— it is a staple of so many Australian pantries. White bread is made from wheat that has been milled to remove the outer layers of the grain, resulting in a white flour substance that retains around 30-50% less fibre than its whole meal or grain counterparts. It is generally high GI, which means carbs are quickly absorbed, which can lead to an increased blood sugar level.

While it mightn’t be the most effective bread for weight loss, there are often circumstances where kids just will not let go of the white bread they know and love. In these circumstances, it is important to reach for the hi-fibre and low GI varieties. These brands have added nutrients like hi-maize, a type of starch that is added in an attempt to increase the nutritional value of white bread.

The verdict: While the least nutritious choice for kids and adults, white bread is a good way to introduce your children to bread consumption.

Brown Bread

While white bread is made of solely endosperm, brown bread contains the fibre rich, nutritious parts of the wheat grain. Not only does this make it significantly better for you than white bread, it also goes through dramatically less processing. While white bread is sometimes treated and bleached with chemicals, brown bread goes through little to no artificial enhancement.

One of the most important features of brown bread is the number of B vitamins it contains, from thiamine to niacin and riboflavin; this helps the body to acquire energy from food. It also contains foliate, pantothenic acid, as well as vitamins E and K. The high fibre content also assists in regular bowel movement, keeping stool soft.

The verdict: Brown bread is a healthier alternative to white bread, as it retains a lot of the same tastes and textures. However, it should still be consumed in moderation.

Wholegrain Bread

Wholegrain bread is high in nutrient-rich grains, as well as having a generally low IG to promote slow digestion and a feeling of fullness. As the name suggests, wholegrain bread relies heavily on grains, including whole wheat, rye and oats. The regular consumption of this bread has been linked to the reduction of some health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, making it the best bread for weight loss.

Wholegrain bread contains three types of fibers: resistant starch, soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. It is also a very rich source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, protein, iron, vitamin E and magnesium.

The verdict: Multigrain bread is the best choice for everyday consumption, promoting a nutrient-rich balance that leaves you fuller for longer.

 


How To Perfect Your Deadlift Form: Setting Up

 

When it comes to building strength and power, a deadlift is possibly the most efficient, effective exercises. Not only that, a properly performed deadlift will improve posture and help prevent back injuries.

One of main type of lifts in the sport of powerlifting, deadlifting involves pulling as much weight as possible off the ground. That’s not to say that deadlifting is as simple as bending over and picking up a weight—it involves a considerable amount of technique.

In fact, using proper technique for a deadlift is vital when it comes to safety and preventing injuries, as well as ensuring you’re benefiting as much as possible from this exercise. The following tips should help you perfect your set up for a deadlift and, if not, pop in to see one of Big 5’s deadlifting experts!

  1. Position Your Feet Correctly

Perfect deadlift form is only possible if your stance is top-notch. If you’re using a barbell, it is crucial to ensure that your shins are as close to the bar as possible. By keeping the bar close to your shins, you prevent your weight from shifting forward towards (or over the top of) the bar, and you keep your hips back in the proper position.

As you begin to lift, you should visualise your feet pushing through the floor, rather than your arms or back pulling the bar up. This allows your legs to do most of the work (not your back), provided you have a good grip on the bar.

  1. Hold Your Breath

It might sound and feel strange, but when doing a deadlift, or any powerlifting exercise, hold your breath.

When you begin your lift, take a deep breath through your diaphragm, holding it in until you come to the very top of your lift. This allows you to maintain a neutral spine and keep your core tight and engaged.

It is also important to not raise your head during the lift, keeping it parallel with the bar at all times. Any dramatic shift can cause neck injuries.

  1. Keep Your Spine Neutral

When deadlifting, it is important to keep your lower back flat and stay tall through the chest. You don’t want your spine to be excessively arched nor rounded, as this can result in serious injury.

As per the previous step, it is also important to be wary of your breathing, as this will help you keep your core tight, keep your lower back flat and your spine neutral.

  1. Hinge Your Hips

When it comes to a deadlift, a lot of people make a common mistake—they use a squatting technique, and in doing so, fail to move their hips in the right way. If you can perfect a hip hinge, then deadlifting should become a whole lot easier.

To do this, rather than bending your knees and lowering your back, image that there is a hinge at your hips. Keep your spine neutral, push your hips back as far as possible, and then lower your upper body towards the bar. This technique prepares your hamstrings and glutes for the pending lift.

Once the hips are pushed back, you should be able to just slightly bend your knees so that you can take hold of the bar. Keep in mind that you should not bend your knees dramatically, or let your body fall forward. This can cause serious injuries. 

  1. Respect the Bar

When you grab the bar, it is best to start with an overhand grip. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders, or just a bit further apart than your hips, and grab onto the bar tightly. Tightly squeeze your shoulder blades together, to create some tension through your upper body, while still retaining your neutral spine.

Perfecting your deadlift technique starts before you’ve even lifted the barbell off the ground. It is important to get these steps right, to improve your overall strength, core stability and posture.