Learn how to deadlift – step by step guide for beginners


Deadlifts are one of the major lifts to pack on slabs of muscle and get fit very quickly. However, it is slightly tricky to get right – especially because people dont teach it very well.

There have been good teachers like Rippetoe and Candito, but I have seen that by the time they are teaching it – they have lost the perspective of beginners. Well, here is a step by step guide to pull a deadlift.

Most other sites will split this article into many different ones, just to get their content reading up… not on Fitosaurus !

Tension Tension Tension

NOTE: This section was added later, when I already had an injury from deadlifting. This is what I learned from Kelly Starett’s videos. Though I dont buy into Crossfit, please do watch Starett’s videos (especially this one)

This is probably the most important aspect of a deadlift…. or a squat. Ask yourselves – what are you doing with your butt when you are setting up for a lift or squat ? Your lifting or dropping your butt for one reason only – to tense your whole posterior chain (hamstring, butt, etc.) to be able to lift. Now, when deadlifts or squats are taught to you, they all tell you “you are lifting your butt too high” (deadlift) or “you are not going down deep enough”. But why ?

For me the cue is your hamstrings – take for example deadlifts. Let’s say you are about to start pulling : maintain your head and back in a straight line, you have bent your knees the right amount, but as soon as you pull, your hips/butt goes up. This is happening because your posterior chain is not finding that tension and your hips are moving up to find the tension. The highest that a butt can travel is when your back and legs are at 90 degrees to each other – but at that point you are lifting your while weight with your back. End result – back is fucked.

Now go back to your setup – maintaining your feet parallel (dont hold them in a V), maintain your back and head in a straight line and bend your knees to reach the bar (maintaining your straight back + head). Now, before you start, spread your hips out – still maintaining your posture. Your hamstrings will tighten – find the right tension to be able to pull.

Remember, keep your feet parallel, back in a straight line and spread your hips to get the tension in your hamstrings. When you are pulling – your hamstrings ought to be screaming.

A lot of people get the tension without spreading their hips and so looking at videos, it just doesnt seem obvious what is happening. Plus, you dont have to spread them too much, so it is not like you are going all wide.

Keep the Rod close to you

The rod should be touching your ankle. As rippetoe says in the video below, the bar must be over half your foot.

Also, when you pull your bar, it should come off the ground along your shins and thighs. If it’s not touching you, it’s too far away from you.

Keep the t-shirt logo up and your palms in your back pockets

The most important thing about deadlift is that your lower back must not round. The easiest cue for this is three fold :

  • look at a spot roughly 5-7 feet away (and your head position must match that). This means you are looking slightly down. Do NOT look up.
  • make sure people can see the superman logo on your t-shirt (push your breasts, if you had them, out)
  • try to take your palms (which are gripping the rod) to your back-pocket. you can only do this by adjusting your shoulders and traps. Do NOT try to tighten your traps, which will try to lift the traps (the weight wont allow it). (from Gentilcore training)

Take a deep breath & Push your abs out

This will help ensure that your lower back and abs are braced for pulling. Kind of like a belt. Tighten those abs.

Push your heels down and lift the weight, till the weight reaches your knees.

****Try not to use your back. Funny isnt it ? The Deadlift is more about pushing, though most people yell “**Pull!!**“.

Hump the rod

Try and have sex with the rod. Which means push your hips towards the rod (heel first!) and lift the weight. Remember, push instead of pull.

Now a bit of a clarification of what hump really means – it does NOT mean you hyper-arch your back and move your thighs closer. No. “Hump” means that you move as if you are having an orgasm – squeeze your glutes and use your hamstrings to pull the weight up. I suggest you get your form with light weights to really understand the meaning of “hump” here. This is the part where 90% of everyone screws up and ends up hurting their back.

Squeeze your glutes

Remember what happens when the deadlift rod reaches the top – people bend backwards. No! actually they dont. What you are supposed to do is squeeze your glutes and still try to hump the bar.

On the way back, pull out slowly

Again, hips first – pull out slowly (as if you were humping someone). Remember, the rod follows your thighs down the floor (dont rest them on your thighs, just follow them) – then straight down once the weight reaches the knees. At NO point does the weight move away from your body.

The philosophy of deadlifting\_name\_is\_richard\_hawthorne\_this\_is\_my\_ama/c58g9pl

I would like to paste a comment by Richard Hawthorne, who is pound for pound the most efficient deadlifting machine in the world. Here’s what he had to say in a Reddit AMA

ill prob won’t answer this correctly but i hope this will helps you out.. a lot of people go wrong by wanting to get stronger faster and find the ultimate Program that bursts their strength through the roof. So they’ll go and pick out programs from Louie Simmons Westside barbell or from Mark Bell, Brain Schwab and form all the other great powerlifting influences out there but what they don’t understand is that there is only a FEW people that are ready for those type of programs. I’m not saying that anyone is better than the next person.. its just your body is not ready for that type of training at all. The Questions that should be asked it how did they get to that point to train the way that they do?! they did start off training like that! Heres my beliefs.. Technique is and an on going process and lifter tend to forget that. we get stuck on our own ego trips to were we have to go heavy all the damn time and I’m not jus talking about maxing either. I’m talking in general with all sets and reps. For example most for my guys that are on my Powerlifting team use to get pissed off and aggravated with me all the time because i would have them goin way lighter than what they thought they should be goin and they would always put heaver weight on as soon as i would turn my back or leave etc so i started to let them do what they wanted to do. Now all my guys of course are bigger than i am and were pretty damn strong from the door. So we went through a couple training cycles and to some meets. they did great but not what they thought they should do. They were doin big numbers in training and getting to the meets and having form problems and was jus doin what they were doin in training, weight wise. They would see me train and asking why i don’t go over certain weight or how come i can do more reps than them with 500 + but yet they can lift a bit more than me? Its for the simple fact that my CORE is a lot stronger than Most lifters on any level (not tryn to sound conceded or anything) and I’m not talking about doin ABs.. Core is form and form is core!! Have y’all notice every time y’all max or do heavy lifts your core gives?? you know you can get the weight cus your legs are strong enough but you jus can’t lock that squat or deadlift out, so what GIVES? YOUR DAMN CORE!!!!! “!!THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR BODY!!” The key to lifting is to be in complete control of every weight you touch! Not saying never go heavy, jus go in your means.. I’ve came to the understand that being able to maintain weight is the key!! Think about it, i can’t can do 500 + for reps and my back does not give bend shake or over lockout cus i slowing worked my way up with strict form and technique. Now don’t get me wrong my form cracks jus like everyone else’s at a certain amount of reps with heavy weight but its rare. Now that my guys started to understand my concept by training the core through reps and maintaining weight their numbers and lifts have improved tremendously! So picking those other training programs (which are great program) are not what you need.. you more likely need to scrap all the max effort etc and start from scratch with form and reps and work you way back up. this sport is not a sprint is a marathon. The more you go heavy wide bad form the worst it gets for you to correct your form and starting over do to bad habits.


Learn how to deadlift – step by step guide for beginners


July 29, 2013

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