Weightlifting 101: How to Do a Deadlift
Why Even Do A Deadlift In The First Place?
Many exercises have alternatives and the deadlift is no different, however, much like performing many other alternatives, skipping the traditional movement can leave some muscles unattended and leave you prone to injury.
Consider the basic movements that make up a deadlift. If you are thinking that it resembles movements you do every day - when you pick up your kids, get the laundry basket from the floor, grab something from the bottom shelf at the grocery store - you are right! We deadlift, albeit often with improper form, every day. Building up these muscles can improve your quality of life.
Additionally, the deadlift touches nearly every muscle group, from your back and core to your forearms and legs. Deadlifts are a great exercise to incorporate in your full body training days, but you want to make sure you know how to do a deadlift the right way.
Different Types Of Deadlifts
Deadlifts come in a variety of different forms, much like other fundamental exercises. These are some of the most common types of deadlifts that you see:
- Conventional Deadlift - Feet hip width apart with hands just outside your feet.
- Sumo Deadlift - Hands inside legs with feet in a wide stance.
- Trap Bar Deadlift - A deadlift using a specialized bar that helps support proper deadlift form.
- Romanian Deadlift - A type of variation that requires straight legs.
- Dumbbell Deadlifts - Another type of variation that uses two dumbbells instead of a single barbell.
Let’s Start With How To Do Conventional Deadlifts…
Place a traditional barbell in front of you and set your feet hip width apart. Stand just behind the barbell so that your feet are directly underneath you. Bend over, while maintaining straight legs, to grasp the bar. Then, lower your hips so that they are parallel with the floor and your shins just graze the barbell.
Engage your chest to pull your back into a neutral position. Hyperextension or a rounded position in your back can lead to injury. Once your back is flat, your hips are low, your shins and shoulders are slightly forward, you are ready to lift!
A good mentality that helps you maintain proper form in a deadlift is considering the movement as a push, rather than pull. Your weight should be driving down into the floor through your heels while the rest of your body moves upward as a single unit, meaning that your hips and shoulders move at the same speed. The bar should stay in contact with your body throughout the entire movement and your arms should not bend. Squeeze your glutes throughout the motions to keep the proper muscle groups engaged throughout the deadlift.
We would like to think that once we are at the top the hard part is over, but that is not the right way to do a deadlift. Just as much, if not more, control and engagement should go into the negative movement as you put into the lift itself. To prevent injury, do not release the tightness in any of your engaged muscle groups. Slowly descend the same way you came up, with your entire body moving as a single unit. Once the barbell is on the floor, you can relax before performing another deadlift.
No matter how long you’ve been deadlifting, you want to slowly increase weight in every session. Warm up for deadlifts with just the bar, then slowly increase the weight by consistent intervals.
What Is The Right Grip For Deadlifts?
The most common question we get besides how to do a deadlift in the first place is the reason behind the different grips people see used at their gyms.
You see two different grips for deadlifts, a double overhand grip and a mixed grip.
The double overhand grip is the safest for those who are just learning how to do a deadlift. It keeps the tension even across your shoulders and helps you lift evenly. The double overhand grip works well for deadlifts, especially when you are building up your back strength. As your back gets stronger, you may want to consider a mixed grip, which helps to increase your grip strength, allowing you to lift more. The rest of your body should maintain the same form we talked about earlier, regardless of your grip.
What Accessories Do You Need When Learning How To Do A Deadlift?
From straps to belts, there are plenty of accessories that athletes use to help them perform deadlifts properly. When you are first learning how to do a deadlift, though, you don’t need to worry about any accessories. Belts and straps are ideal when you begin lifting significant amounts of weight. Slowly build up to those levels to prevent injury.
How Do I Know If I’m Deadlifting Correctly?
Focusing on form is essential when performing any skill, especially a movement like a deadlift where injury can occur very easily. Once you’ve learned how to do a deadlift properly, be especially cognizant of any strain you feel, especially in your lower back. This could indicate that your form is being compromised because your weight is too heavy. Reduce the weight and try again. Just like anything, learning how to do a deadlift takes practice.
If you’re looking for more help to learn how to do a deadlift or perform other skill in your workout routine, contact Whole Intent today. Our personal training is customized specifically to the individual’s skill level so that you can achieve your goals safely and effectively.