How to Deadlift Safely and Effectively

Deadlifts are the single best exercise for improving posture, and fundamental for burning fat, building full body lean muscle/strength, and preventing injury. This lift lays the foundation… it really is the back bone in any successful gym strength training program.

Video Breakdown

A) How to Deadlift
B) Purpose and importance of the lift
C) Key points for lifting heavier
D) Common mistakes to avoid
E) Footwear
F) Partial deadlift (regression)
G) Assistance exercises

Below is the video transcript –

How to Deadlift Safely and Effectively

Step up to the bar with a shoulder width stance, toes may be pointed out slightly. This is the same stance you would use for if you were to jump as high as possible.

The bar is positioned over the mid foot, 1 inch from the shins and without dropping your hips yet, grip the bar tightly, no more than thumb width outside of the legs.

Bend your knees, bringing your shins in contact with the bar.

Shove your chest right up, this straightens your back, preventing flexion, and naturally positions the hips which should also be hinged back.

The core is tightened, with the shoulders sitting infront of the bar so that your scapula (shoulder blades) is directly above the bar, this distributes the load evenly over the torso.

With the elbows extended, tilt most of the weight onto your heels and pull the bar up while maintaining contact with the shins [LIFT]. Your entire foot is in contact with the floor, but most of the force is driven through your heels.

Once you reach the knees, the hips take over – extending you into standing position, but do not hyper extend.

Reverse the movement.
– Hips hinge back, shoulders forward.
– Once the bar reaches the knees, bend at the knees and drop the hips.

Land the bar in the starting position and use the lats to keep the bar in close to your body at all times. [LIFT].

On the descent, avoid pausing and ensure you drive the hips back and shoulders forward to allow the bar to drop in a straight line with out a knee collision.

The Bar stops close to the shins – in preparation for another pull.

Purpose and importance of the lift

The deadlift is an extremely effective full body exercise, one of the top 5 movements you simply can not ignore.

It targets the posterior chain muscle groups – the lower back spinal erectors, the glutes and hamstrings through hip and knee extension. And you can imagine, when squeezing a heavy bar a lot of force travel through several other muscle groups such as the forearms, traps, all musculature connecting to the shoulder blades (upper back), and the core… all acting as stabilizers.

And thats what deadlifts do – Deadlifts strengthen your posture, this is essential for laying a strong foundation for everything to be built upon. You’re not doing it to impress your facebook ‘friends’ list nor fit in with any gym bandwagon. You’re doing it to decrease the fat on your ass, the chance of a weak brittle spine, build lean muscle, strength, prevent muscle atrophy, poor posture, and a hunchback when you’re older. ….the health of your joints, tendons, ligaments, increased bone mineral density. You don’t get a bad back from doing Deadlifts, you get a bad back from not doing Deadlifts.

In addition to stimualting a huge amount of muscle the deadlift also teaches you how to pick up an object as safely as possible with the correct technique – utilizing the power generated in the hips, and knees. Be it picking up a big stone, a box, grocery bags, sandbags or whatever… the key posture points are the same regardless.

Key Points for lifting heavier and Common Mistakes

1) Take a firm breath right before you take off, and hold it throughout the lift until the last half of the descent. This builds intra abdominal pressure which helps to stabilize the spine and therefore more weight can be lifted safely.

2) There are differences in anthropometry – those with long legs and a short torso set the hips slightly higher as this reduces the back angle, which places the Scapula over the bar. If you have long legs and your hips are set too low then the shoulder blades will fall behind the bar.

Whereas those with short Legs and a long torso will set their hips lower (slightly above the knees) as this increases the back angle, and brings it back – over the bar instead of infront.

3) The knee angle changes first, and the hips and bar raise with it. Once at the knees then and then only do the hips come into play by extending the back angle. So don’t extend the knees back then pick up the bar with your back as it creates a huge space.

4) On the pick up, do not tilt forward, you need to tilt backward onto the heel. At the same time – you pull the bar in – it should stay in contact and be dragged up the shins and thighs. This reduces the displacement and therefore unnecessary back stresses.

5) A mistake is bouncing the bar off the floor between reps, this makes it easier and not a complete rep. Come to a complete stop before picking the bar up again.

6) Not locking out the knees to standing.

7) Using the back to lower the bar all the way down, once the bar reaches the knees bend at them.

8) Bending the back on descent, no, you pick the bar up with the back straight – put it down the same.

9) Squatting on descent and colliding with knee, I’ve mentioned this earlier.

10) Tuck the chin in – looking up is like walking around with your head up, you are hyper extending the cervical spine.

11) Thick running shoes adds unwanted height, and it dilutes the force you are exerting into the ground. If removing footwear doesn’t bring you close enough to the bar and you are still struggling with flexibility, simply deadlift off an elevated height. Deadlifting off of thick bumper plates fixes the problem for most.

12) Position yourself at a 45 degree angle to a mirror so that you may easily assess yourself while performing the lift.

That is it for conventional dead lifts – review my other videos where I talk more about other variations of the deadlift such as the romanian deadlift.

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