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Deadlift is the most basic, primal, mass-building, testosterone pumping, results driven exercise. Learn how to do it without hurting your back.

Deadlift works on more than 25 muscles simultaneously. It is great for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, posterior chain, quads, abdominals, upper back, arms, forearms, chest, traps and shoulders.

The truth is everyone should be doing deadlift but people are NOT doing deadlifts at the gym because they are scared of getting hurt. In this article, I will teach you the perfect deadlift technique so that you can do Deadlift without hurting your back.

How to do it



1. Walk the bar:
Hip-width stance, toes out 15° or toes pointing straight ahead.

2. Grab the bar: Use a hook grip. With the bar close to shins, keep head up, eyes looking forward, chest out, and back flat. Inhale.

3. Pull: Take a big breath, hold it and stand up. Keep the bar against your legs. Don’t shrug or lean back at the top. You have finished your Deadlift when you have locked your hip and knees. Return the weight to the floor by pushing your hips back first. Rest a second then do your next rep.

Stance



Left - Squat Stance:
Heels shoulder-width apart is too wide for Deadlifts. Your legs will block your arms when you grip the bar. Creating space using a wider grip is not effective because it puts your arms at an angle.

Right - Hip-width Stance: Perform Deadlift with a narrower stance than on Squats so your legs don’t block your arms. The distance between your heels should match the width of your hips. Hip-width stance is the most effective way to Deadlift heavy.

Foot Position



Left - Bar against shins, too close:
Bar too close to shins, you’ll hit them on the way up.

Middle- Bar over forefoot, too far:
If the bar comes over your toes, you can lose balance and get lower back pain.

Right - Bar over mid-foot, correct:
Setup for Deadlifts with the bar over your mid-foot.

Head position



Left - Looking at feet:
It rounds the upper-back. Excessive rounding of your lower back compresses your spinal discs and can results in injury.

Middle - Looking up:
Ignore Mirrors. Checking your form in the mirror forces you to look up. This causes bad form and neck pain.

Right - Head neutral, straight line head to hips:
Deadlifting with your head neutral prevents neck injuries because there’s no spinal disc compression. Your setup should show a straight line from the top of your head to your lower back.

Back position



Left - Flexion, lower back rounding:
Deadlifting with your lower back rounded can result in spinal disc injuries.

Right - Neutral lower back:
Keep your lower back neutral from start to finish to avoid injuries. Neutral means natural curve in your lower back.

Grip



Are you wondering why am I holding the bar with one hand facing you, the other facing away? It is called "mixed grip".

The mixed grip stops the bar from rolling out from your hands. It improves your grip for Deadlifts by cancelling the rotation of the bar.
The mixed grip is safe if you Deadlift with proper form. And the mixed grip isn't cheating.   

The mixed grip is better than normal grip when you are lifting heavy weights because with the normal grip you have eight fingers on one side of the but only two thumbs on the other side. When your thumbs fail to keep your hands closed, the bar rolls to you. This opens your hands and causes you to lose the bar.

With the mixed grip you grab the bar like a baseball bat: one hand facing up, the other down. The bar can no longer rotate in your hands. This increases your grip strength for Deadlifts.

Grip the bar with one hand facing you, the other facing away. Grip it like you’d grip baseball bat. The mixed grip increases grip strength for Deadlifts by putting four fingers and one thumb on both sides of the bar.

With the normal grip, the bar always rolls down because both hands face you.

The pull

Push the floor away: Imagine you are doing the Leg Press. Lift the bar off the ground by pushing your feet through the floor. Don’t try to Deadlift the weight using your lower back only. Use your legs and butt muscles. Stand up with the weight by pushing your feet through the floor.

Lockout



Left - Leaning back at the top:
Don’t Lean Back. Hyper-extending your lower back at the top is bad for your spine.

Middle - Shrugging at the top:
If it’s too heavy, reduce the weight but don’t compromise on posture.

Right - Standing tall with chest up, relaxed shoulders and neutral back: You have finished your Deadlift rep when you have locked your hips and knees. Stand tall with locked hips and knees. Lift your chest but keep your lower back neutral.

Breathing

Breathe at The Bottom: Before you Deadlift the weight, take a big breath and hold it.

Hold Your Breath on the way up:
Don’t exhale on the way up. If you do, you will lose pressure in your abdomen. This is dangerous for your lower back during heavy Deadlifts.

Breath at the top: You can breath at the top if you are holding the weight for long time for isometric strength.

Disclaimer

While the deadlift is an especially important move to add to your routine, this is a movement that places direct force on the spine. Those with back issues (or those who suspect they may have back issues) such as herniated discs and sciatica should first seek medical clearance.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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