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.