Like squats, the deadlift is a powerful exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time. But form is everything when deadlifting. Do it the right way, and you’ll see impressive gains. Do it the wrong way, and you’ll see nothing – or worse, you’ll injure your back. Use the tips below to correct your form, and avoid injury in the process.
Keep Your Back Straight
When deadlifting, it’s crucial to keep your lower back in the neutral position. Performing this move with a hyper-extended or rounded lower back can lead to spinal disc injuries. Rounding your back will compress the front part of your spinal discs, while excess arching will compress the back part of your discs.
In either case, you’re setting your back up for painful injuries. Always keep your lower back in a neutral position. Period.
Push Through Your Feet
Most people view deadlifts as a “pull” exercise, but try pushing instead. Move the bar by pushing your feet into the floor. Imagine that you are doing a leg press. Once you get the bar to your knees, thrust your hips forward to lockout the weight.
When you push through your feet, you minimize back pain caused by trying to pull the weight back too hard.
Always Use Your Legs
When deadlifting, don’t use your lower back – use your legs. This move is more than just a back exercise. The lower back should stay in a neutral position while you pull the weight. Your knees and hips should be doing the brunt of the work as you lift the weight and straighten your legs.
Start with the Bar Mid-Foot
Rather than starting with the bar over your forefoot, start with it over your mid-foot. The further away the bar is, the more stress you’ll put on your lower back. When you lift, pull the bar in a vertical line up to the top. Never let the bar drift away from the legs. Pull the bar to your body and drag it up over your legs until you get to the lockout point. If you’re worried about shin scraping, wear long pants and socks.
Don’t Lean Backward
Many people make the mistake of leaning backward when finishing a deadlift. But leaning backwards at the top or hyper extending your back compresses your spinal discs, which can lead to painful injuries. You may see competitive powerlifters leaning back at the top of their deadlift. This is merely just to show the judges that they have locked out the weight. It’s unnecessary for you to do this. Make sure that your lower back is always in a neutral position when finishing a deadlift.
Deadlifts are a great addition to any exercise routine, but they need to be performed properly if you want to avoid back injuries. Remember, always keep your lower back in a neutral position. That’s the key most important thing as this will help you avoid spinal disc compression. If you’re concerned about your form, try practicing without any weight to master the core movements first.