How to Deadlift

BY Chris Hitchko, CSCS

As a personal trainer, I have been privy to some terrible form while watching my clients perform strength exercises. The key to any strength exercise is understanding that we're not chasing perfection, we're progressing. The greatest and best deadlifters are still improving- no one has perfect deadlifting form. At Show Up Fitness we coach our lifts in binary code- 0- stop immediately you have poor form and may hurt yourself, 1- your form in ok, keep lifting. When a client / person has a 0, this bad form can lead to a number of injuries and problems that could also impact your future in weight lifting or daily life. So, how do you deadlift without risking injury?

First, you need to SHOW UP daily and understand movement competency. Here's a pyramid taken from a talk from Chad Waterbury

Chad Waterbury Movement Competency - Show UP Fitness Personal Training Internship San Diego & Los Angeles.

What does this mean? It means you need to practice a lot of “1's” in order to progress to the next weight. The best way in which to do this is to watch an online tutorial that takes you through the action : see here for Showup Fitness' “how to deadlift” video.

Layne Norton also has a great dead lifting tutorial right here:

After playing close attention to the tutorial, find an area of the gym, with a mirror so you can watch your form as your perform a deadlift. With only your bodyweight, hinge at your hips in order to bend forward. Here's a helpful cue that we coach our clients with at Show Up Fitness San Diego & Los Angeles, “Pretend that you're back is to your dresser and the middle drawer is left out. I want you to push the drawer shut with your butt- HINGE BACK AND SHUT THE DRAWER!” Your back should be straight (as if you are balancing a teacup on it) while you bend down.) The idea is that you want to be able to place your hands on the ground with a straight back (no rounding in the lumbar area.) If you are not that flexible, you need to stop at the point where your back is no longer straight OR raise the bar off the ground by placing raisers on each side. You should be feeling the exercise in your hamstrings and glutes. Then slowly raise up and that is one rep!

For the first few workouts where you are planning to include deadlifts, you should only be using your body weight practicing the hinge pattern aka shutting the drawer (movement competency.) If you need some extra pointers, shoot us an email or text with a video of you performing 5-10 reps. We can help analyze your form and give proper guidance. If at any point you begin to feel pain or injury in your lower back, cease the exercise and seek a professional trainer's help before attempting again.

Deadlifts are a great way to build up your hamstring and glute muscles, both of which are key to peak physical performance. If you have any additional questions around which strength exercises you should include in your workout plan, connect with us here or on social media. Show Up Fitness provides one-on-one training, personalized workout plans, nutrition support as well as group fitness classes.


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