Deadlifting is a compound exercise, which means it affects multiple muscle groups. That makes it one of the essential exercises you can do. If done properly, deadlifting can be exceptionally beneficial for your health, muscle growth, and core strength.
Like other exercises, deadlifting can cause injury if performed incorrectly. To help you avoid hurting yourself, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the barbell deadlift and point out the most common mistakes deadlifters make so you can avoid them.
We will also cover the benefits of deadlifting in general and all the equipment you’ll need to begin doing this beneficial exercise.
How to Deadlift Properly
Deadlifting refers to lifting a weight off the ground without the assistance of momentum. The weight is completely motionless there, which is where the expression “deadweight” came from. You can deadlift barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, tires, a loaded trap bar, and much more.
There are different types of deadlifts, including the sumo deadlift, trap bar deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, Romanian deadlift, and many more. In this article, we’ll focus on the traditional barbell deadlift. Here’s how it’s done:
- To start, make sure you position yourself correctly by standing behind the bar with your legs barely touching the bar. For a conventional stance, your feet should be a hip-width apart and facing slightly outward. If you were doing a sumo deadlift, your legs would be much further apart and pointing toward the barbells.
- Next, lower yourself and grip the bar, making sure that your hands are just outside your shins. For a snatch grip deadlift, you would position your hands further apart, near the barbells and on the inner side of the bar. Depending on the types of deadlifts you prefer, you choose from three grip types.
- In the overhand grip, your thumbs are pointing toward each other as you grip the bar.
- With mixed grip, you grasp the bar overhand with one hand and underhand with the other. This can help prevent the bar from rolling around if you have not yet built up a lot of forearm strength.
- For the hook grip, you place an open hand around the barbell. You then wrap the thumb around the barbell and wrap the remaining fingers over the thumb and the bar, locking your hand in position.
- After you have grasped the bar, position your shoulder blades over the bar, hinge your knees and hips, and rest your body weight on your heels. The most important parts: Make sure your feet remain flat and your spine is long and straight.
- Take a deep diaphragmatic breath and brace your abdominal wall. This will stabilize the lumbopelvic hip complex and your core throughout the lift.
- Finally, you can begin lifting the bar. You should always drive up and forward with your hips and legs as you’re standing up, all while making sure that your spine remains in a neutral position. Make sure that you contract your glutes and abdominal muscles for lower-back health and safety.
Avoid These Common Barbell Deadlift Mistakes
Form is an essential aspect of deadlifting. This exercise is most effective when done correctly, and proper technique also ensures that you won’t end up hurting your lower back.
The most common mistake happens when people arch their lower backs, which increases the load across the lumbar spine. This creates uneven pressure on spinal discs and may cause a lower-back injury. That’s why your spine must always stay as straight as possible.
Regardless of the different types of deadlifts you choose to do, it is essential to know that your hips are the primary drivers for a proper deadlift. Even though your knees may start slightly bent, you should rely on your hips. For that reason, it is extremely important not to “overdip” your hips and lean too far back. If you do, you will be doing a squat rather than a deadlift.
If you start in the “overdip” position, you will have to shift forward as you begin the lifting motion. This makes it more likely that the bar will gain too much distance from your shin. Also, it can cause you to lock your knees too early or curve your back.
The bar should be close to your shins. Increasing the distances creates unwanted torque on your spine. If you keep your shins close to the bar you’ll be able to lift the weight more safely and more effectively.
Another thing you should be mindful of: Avoid over-lifting. The human body is capable of amazing things, and professional athletes are capable of lifting jaw-dropping weights. For reference, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who gained acclaim playing a character called “The Mountain” in Game of Thrones, currently holds a deadlifting record after lifting 501 kilograms (1,104 pounds), beating Eddie Hall’s record of 500 kg.
But just because these two strongmen can lift these impressive weights, it doesn’t mean that you should – especially when you are just starting. A good rule of thumb is to never lift more than double your bodyweight.
Make sure you are doing repetitions properly. In many kinds of lifting, you don’t take a break between the eccentric phase, which is the lowering of the weight, and the concentric phase, which is the lifting of the weight. With the deadlift, the goal is to lift the dead weight off the ground, as the name suggests. So you should always let your barbells rest on the ground for a moment before doing another rep instead of simply letting them touch the ground before lifting again.
Why You Should Try the Barbell Deadlift
Adding the deadlift to your workout has many benefits. First, the barbell deadlift increases your grip strength. But there’s more to it than that. One of the biggest benefits of deadlifting is that it exercises muscle groups throughout your body. It works on your gluteus maximus, quads, hamstrings, traps, and lats. It also works on your spinal erectors, improving your core strength and stability. When performed correctly, deadlifting can lower the risk of back injury by correcting muscular imbalance and strengthening your back.
One of the most common misconceptions about deadlifting is that it causes lower back pain. This can indeed happen if you lift the bar incorrectly. That’s true of all lifts and many other exercises. But if it is done correctly as part of a consistent workout routine, deadlifting can actually reduce lower back pain.
The deadlift is also one of the most efficient exercises for boosting your metabolism. Lifting heavy weights causes your body to release anabolic and fat-burning hormones that help with weight loss. It also increases your supplies of testosterone and growth hormones, which ensures that you recover faster from training and build muscle faster.
Don’t let the word testosterone give you the wrong impression. Deadlifting is an excellent exercise for women. Although barbell deadlifting works a wide set of muscle groups, it has particular benefits for one particular set of deadlift muscles: It’s one of the best exercises for achieving a perky-looking behind.