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Barbell Deadlift – How to Train Correctly to Get a Strong Back and Avoid Injuries

Everybody keeps writing that the barbell deadlift is the king of exercises and that no other exercise will task your body so much. I agree and that’s why the exercise has a place in the Beginner Strength Training Full Body Workout. Even so, if you don’t learn to perform the barbell deadlift correctly, two things might happen.


[Here is how to perform the barbell deadlift.]

You Might Injure Yourself If You Deadlift Incorrectly

It is super important to have a flat back when picking stuff off the ground. The lower back is not designed for flexibility. It is designed to be rigid and in this position it is strong. When it is flexed, it is both weak and non-supportive to your spine.

Proper Form Gives More Strength

If you don’t do the barbell deadlift correctly, you won’t be able to lift a lot and thus won’t recruit most of your muscles. So much for the king of all exercises.

deadlift start

deadlift start

deadlift start

deadlift start

deadlift start

  • Sit your butt as far back as you possibly can.
  • The start of the movement is when you push down on the ground through your heels.
  • Go on the way up evenly with your whole body like an elevator.
  • Keep your lower back tight and straight.
  • Now, you have the bar just above your knees.
  • First, squeeze your glutes (butt) and extend your hips by pushing and flexing your butt forward.
  • Second, use your lats – the muscles of your armpits – to pull the bar towards your body.
  • Stand up completely.
  • All of the muscles on the back of your body – head to toe – should be now contracted.
  • Begin descending by pushing your hips back.
  • Keep doing this until the bar reaches the level below your knees.
  • Once the bar has passed knee level, go down fast with it.
  • You don’t have to slam it on the ground, but you don’t have to control its speed either.

This completes one repetition. You should start and end all your repetitions like that. Start on the ground from a dead stop – that is why it’s called a dead lift – cause the weight is lying on the ground.

You may have realized what the most important thing is when deadlifting. I keep repeating it because it is that important. You should keep your lower back tight and straight.

More About The Barbell Deadlift Technique

Here are a few more tips to instantly get stronger in the deadlift. I picked these up from Pavel Tsatsouline’s (a former soviet spec force insructor who now consults the American armed forces) book Power to the People.

The neck should be in a neutral position. It should be like an extension to the spine – neither looking down, nor flexing back. Contract your triceps, keep your arms straight and locked and grip hard with your hands. Contract your stomach hard like somebody is going to punch you.So this means not to suck your stomach in, but to brace it.


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5 Comments - Share Are Your Thoughts

  1. Flex your arms or keep them straight? I think you might tear a bicep if you flex your arm. What say, Yavor?

  2. Yavor

    Doc,

    Keep them straight. Also -flexing the triceps will help with keeping the body tight -that’s what I meant in the post and I will fix it. thanks for pointing it out.

    Yavor

  3. rick paz

    i have a regular barbell not olympic. since i have to go lower, i`m 5 4, what form should i use.

  4. Yavor

    Rick,

    You can try putting two weight plates under the bar so that you lift it from a higher position. The important thing is to make sure your lower back stays in the arch position.

    Yavor


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