How to Deadlift


The deadlift is classed as the king of all exercises in powerlifting and bodybuilding.

It involves lifting a barbell from the ground to the hips and then lowered back to the ground. It is not the most complicated move, but it uses nearly every muscle group in the body. It does not only benefit by strengthening the appropriate muscles, but it also helps with poor posture and back pain. The deadlift allows the body to lift a heavy object from the ground in the most efficient way possible. It is used by many powerlifting and bodybuilding athletes in order to lift as much weight possible. As powerlifting and bodybuilding has rapidly grown it has put athletes to the test challenging both their physical and mental toughness. This has not gone unnoticed by online bookmakers as they now offer reasonable odds for powerlifting and bodybuilding at the Olympia and at the Common Wealth games.

The deadlift is a simple movement that is considered by many as the best total-body exercise. deadlifts will mainly work your…

    • butt (glutes)
    • back
    • quadriceps
    • abs and obliques

The deadlift is an essential lift to building muscle, and should be performed by both men and women.

-Terry Asher

Gym Junkies

I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my eBook, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is for helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.

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  • Jeff

    Nice, Ive been wanting to learn how to deadlift…

  • gilberto bedolla

    dude your form is horrible you need to lower your butt a little lower

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic

    Gilberto,
    Your hips should be higher than your knees when you start the lift. Remember you start a deadlift in a deadlift position, not a squatting position.

    -Vic

  • Matthew

    NICE!

    Will deadlifts help strengthen my legs more or my back more?

  • sangita

    god! did’nt even know the dead lift, squats were so important. trying to remember what I’ve been doing in the previous gyms – but I’m sure they never told us this. Also was busy doing the “biceps”, “triceps”, calf raises and all that crap.

  • laura

    I am confused about the deadlift. Your instructions say to keep the bar in contact with the body during the whole lift, but when I try to do that, the bar smashes into my knees on the way up and down. I don’t understand how to keep my knees out of the way. Any thoughts about what I might be doing wrong? Thanks.

  • http://www.thefirstsupper.com Chris C

    Deadlifts are not as easy to learn as one might think, especially for us slightly taller lifters. But they are well worth it. Vic is spot on when he mentions that pulling several hundred pounds in tight form is not only a great feeling but that kind of metabolic stim is the only way to gain genuine functional strength and real muscle not just “bulked up, pumped up mitochondria.” I think I am inspired to focus on deads for a while. Vic: I am curious to know what you think of the “trap” bar (trapezoid bar) for deadlifts?

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  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    @Matthew: The deadlift will strengthen the entire posterior chain (pretty much everything from your traps to your hamstrings). Which will it hit more, legs or back? That’s a tough call. The bottom line is to do the movement unless you have a medical restriction.

    @sangita: Glad you’re a convert to functional movements!

    @laura: Your best bet is to have a trainer experienced with the deadlift watch your technique. But yes, the bar should remain in contact with the leg through out the movement. Try making “light” contact with the leg as opposed to smashing the bar into the leg.

    @Chris C: To be completely honest, I have never done trap bar deadlifts. But after watching Joe DeFranco’s “Strong” recently, I’m dying to give them a shot. If DeFranco has his guys doing them, I’m thinking it’s worth investigating. But just from watching the movement and basic knowledge of how the body moves, the trap bar will place the distribution of weight at a point closer to the body’s natural center line. Much the same way doing the movement with dumbbells would (which I have done and like). The bottom line always (and this is not a cop out but the reality of the matter) is to try it your self, track your results, and make your decision about the movement based on your own experience. That was the long way for me to say these three things:
    1) I haven’t done the movement myself.
    2) It looks like a solid movement to me.
    3) Try it yourself for best results.
    Thanks for all of your recent comments, Chris!

  • Anand

    laura, I think you are making one of the following mistakes so that the bar smashes against your knees on the way up. You are either pulling with your hands instead on pressing with your heels or your knees are projecting way forward when you start the lift. Try to puch the butt a bit back at the starting position and make sure your shin is almost vertical to the floor.

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  • ElCidOrth

    I currently do not have a barbell; I have the Block dumbells. Can you suggest the best way to do a deadlift with the Block? Thank you.

  • summerss

    ElCidOrth, you could use one arm and one leg at a time so that you can keep the weight in contact with the leg. You can still use 2 dumbells in place of the barbell, but form is harder to master as you can’t have a bar against the legs.

  • http://www.thefirstsupper.com Chris C

    Vic- thanks for your response re: the trap bar. I always liked the “feel” of the olympic r seven-foot bar for dead-lifts- nothing compares- but started training with the trap bar for lower back safety reasons, although I honestly can not say that I feel more secure with it. I used the top dead lift (pull from the pins or knees) for several years, building up to 395 pounds (not a huge amount of weight, but for someone with a “bad back” it was a great accomplishment for me!)- by micro-loading once per week with as little as one pound or less each time as I got into the tough (for me) poundages. It really thickened my upper body. I never specialized on full deads but would like to do six months with them and see what happens. I will have to curtail my squats however, since recuperation while working both hard is an issue. Again, I like your teaching style a lot and appreciate the work that you put into this nice site. It really shows how much you like hardcore no-nonsense fitness that works (is there any other kind?) and I am sure that you are benefiting lots of people with your knowledge and passion. I have already turned a few people on to GymJunkies.

  • Dan

    Hey Vic– Great website- Was wondering if there is anythign wrong with doing the straight legged deads alternating on weeks with the ones you show in the video.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    Straight Leg Deadlifts are a fine exercise. Not to replace the good old deadlift by any means, but a fine exercise in their own right. Alternating them with regular deadlifts could be effective. The only way to know for sure is to track, test, and course correct.

  • jose

    Hi Vic, i’m a little confused. i thought what you were doing was de romanian deadlift. what’s the difference between a romanian deadlift and a deadlift?

  • Tom Serafini

    Interesting and good info — but WHERE can you buy fake barbell plates?

    Thanks

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com sells plastic plates that are excellent for learning the basic barbell movements.

  • Rueth

    I’ve got bruises all over my shins! Is that a bad sign?

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    This is not necessarily a bad sign. If you are keeping the bar in contact with your leg through out the movement as you should, then bruising of the shin may occur. Sometimes even a thin layer of protection, like wearing pants instead of shorts, can make a difference.

  • NATO

    Hey this exercise makes my back feel great! I just wanted to ask, should a 16 yr old (me) be doing deadlifts?

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    If your mom or someone asked you to help move the couch, would you? If you answered yes, then the deadlift is fine for you even at 16. Just be smart, use good technique, add weight to the bar slowly, and have a good coach or trainer check your form from time to time. Good luck!

  • Chidi

    Are there any modifications for someone with no access to a barbell? I only have access to dumbbells and I am reading your “how to lose fat” article and I don’t have barbells for either the deadlift, shoulder press or the squat. Please help. I need dumbbell alternatives until I can either save up enough to by a set or buy a gym membership.

  • http://www.slack-fu.com/workout-journal.html Mike

    Hey Vic I’ve been doing deadlifts for about 6 months now but a couple questions have arisen…

    1. Should I be letting the bar totally rest of the floor between reps? Right now I kind of just “clank” the plates and the floor so I know I got down but I pretty much bear all the weight throughout the 5 reps. It was never a problem before but recently since I got up to 275lbs on the lift my back really tightens up at the end of the 5 sets and doesn’t feel right until I finish my drive home.

    2. I can’t seem to do the lifts without making my shins bleed. I guess I scraped them once and now every time I start I rip the scab off and blood pours out. I tried wearing sweatpants but I still get the bleeding. I’m thinking of wrapping an Ace bandage around the shin tomorrow but I dunno if that will hamper the movement.

    Thanks again for your site!

  • http://www.gymjunkies.com Vic Magary

    1. For the heavy reps, let the bar rest on the floor. Get tight or “pull the flex out of the bar” before engaging the lift for each rep.

    2. Bloody shins are pretty common in my experience. Wearing pants on days you deadlift will usually cure this, but it sounds like you’ve already given this a go without success. A surefire way to avoid bloody shins is to use a trap bar if your gym has one. The Ace bandage should not hinder the movement and is worth experimenting with. Good luck!

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  • Supplement Reviews

    Very clean video and pictures for explanation. I want to do these more, but i messed up my back last time. Thanks for the info

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