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Do you want to build a strong, muscular back, explosive glutes and hamstrings, and improve
your posture and core strength? If so, then it’s time to make the “king of all exercises” a
staple in your training – the deadlift.
However, many men avoid properly implementing deadlifts due to the movement’s
complexity and fears of injuring their backs. But with proper technique, deadlifting can
actually make your back stronger by overcoming deadlift fears!
AWG Fitness will provide you with a comprehensive guide; you’ll learn step-by-step proper
deadlift form and technique. With clear instructions, video demonstrations, variations, and
tips from a certified personal trainer, you’ll gain the knowledge of deadlift importance and
confidence to perform this full-body powerhouse lift safely.
Why the Deadlift Is the Ultimate Full-Body Strength Exercise
The deadlift works nearly every major muscle group in the posterior chain—the back of the
body—in one powerful motion. Some of the benefits of deadlifting includes:
● Back muscles like the lats, traps, and erector spinae are needed for complete back
● Glutes and hamstrings for explosive power and strength
● The quadriceps are worked isometrically to stabilize the knees.
● Core muscles must brace to protect the spine.
● Grip and forearm muscles are trained by holding the bar tight.
Deadlifting is also an unparalleled functional exercise. The hip hinge pattern and strong
spinal erectors directly benefit real-world strength demands, like lifting heavy objects off the
Additionally, deadlifts boost anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which
support muscle growth and fat loss. It’s no wonder the deadlift is a must-do exercise for guys
looking to transform their bodies
Common Deadlift Mistakes and Risks
● Rounding the lower back – Puts pressure on the spine and risks injury. Keep back
● Squatting the movement – Causes improper form. Sit hips back and hinge at the hip.
● Looking down – Causes rounded upper back. Keep chest up and eyes forward.
● Starting with hips too low – Reduces leverage and power. Set hips at proper height.
● Lifting too heavy too soon – Leads to compromised form. Increase weight
● Improper grip – Can cause slipped grip or irritation. Use proper grip and chalk.
Avoid Back Pain - Use Proper Form
Many avoid deadlifting because they fear hurting their backs. And rightfully so – sloppy
deadlift form is a leading cause of back injuries in the gym. But with proper technique, it’s
entirely safe, and lower back pain can be avoided.
Common form errors like rounding the back, overextending the spine, and lifting too much
weight are what usually lead to pain or strains. We’ll cover how to prevent these mistakes.
When done correctly, deadlifts can make your back stronger and less prone to injury.
Let’s now break down the proper deadlift setup and form step-by-step. Follow these
guidelines, and you’ll be “lifting heavy” safely.
Equipment Needed for Deadlifting
Just a standard Olympic straight barbell and weight plates are required to perform deadlifts.
Additional deadlift equipment can further aid your training:
● Weightlifting belt – Supports the lower back and enhances abdominal pressure
during heavy lifts. Highly recommended.
● Lifting shoes – Shoes with thin, non-compressible soles optimize force transfer from
the floor up through your body. Consider investing in a quality pair.
● Chalk – Improves grip on heavy sets so the bar doesn’t slip. It is useful when lifting a
very heavy weight.
● Knee sleeves – Compress the knee joint, keeping it warm and supported under
heavy loads. Optional for most
Setting Up for the Deadlift
A proper deadlift setup should be arranged. Your stance and grip will allow you to pull
efficiently and safely:
● Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes slightly angled out 10-15 degrees.
● Bend hips back to grip bar just outside legs, arms shoulder-width apart.
● Bring shins close to the bar; do not move the bar.
● Tighten your upper back; pinch your shoulder blades together.
● Look straight ahead or slightly up to maintain a neutral spine.
● Take the slack out of the bar before lifting.
Your setup directly impacts your leverage and pulling power. Take your time to get it right
before each rep.
Deadlift Form Breakdown Step-by-Step
Now let’s walk through the deadlift technique in detail through these deadlift phases of the
Phase 1: The Starting Position
● Feet hip-width apart, bar over mid-foot
● Knees bent, hips back, back flat
● Chest up, eyes forward
● Arms straight down, grip shoulder-width
● Take the slack out of the bar
This puts you in an athletic stance centred over the bar. Do not round your lower back here.
Phase 2: Initiating the Pull
● Push feet through the floor
● Keep the bar in contact with the legs
● Maintain a flat back, chest up
● Drive hips forward until knees are unlocked
Initiate the lift by driving your heels hard into the floor, keeping the bar tight. Thrust your hips
forward powerfully while keeping your back flat.
Phase 3: Lockout
● Thrust hips forward fully
● Squeeze glutes
● Pull shoulders back
● Keep core braced
At the top, finish the hip extension and squeeze your glutes. Your hips and shoulders should
reach full extension at the same time.
Phase 4: The Descent
● Hinge at hips to lower bar
● Control eccentric portion
● Keep back flat
● The bar stays close to the legs
To lower the bar:
1. Hinge at the hips again while keeping your spine neutral.
2. Do not round your back.
3. Guide the bar down your legs in a controlled manner
Common Deadlifts Variations
Two excellent deadlift variations alter stance and mechanics to provide new challenges and
training stimuli. Mastering both the sumo and Romanian deadlift styles will build strength
through wider ranges of motion.
The sumo deadlift technique utilizes a wider stance with hands placed inside the legs rather
than outside. This shortens the range of motion, allowing you to lift heavier weights.
To perform the sumo deadlift:
● Feet are set wider than hip-width apart, with toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle.
● Hands grip the bar inside your legs, close to the shins. Your arms run straight down,
● Sit your hips back and down until your shins make contact with the bar, keeping your
● Lift your chest while keeping the bar close to your shins and thighs. Look forward.
● Initiate the pull by driving your feet hard into the floor and forcing your knees outward.
● Focus on spreading the floor and opening up your hips and groin area as you drive
● Thrust hips forward powerfully, squeezing glutes at the top. Finish with shoulders
The benefits of sumo deadlifting include:
● Shorter range of motion, allowing heavier weights to be lifted.
● Greater emphasis is placed on the inner thighs and glutes. It widens the stance and
works the adductors more.
● Less stress on the lower back is due to a more upright torso angle.
● It is excellent for those with flexibility limitations who struggle with hip flexion.
● Builds core strength due to the need to resist rotational forces.
Aim to make sumo deadlifts about 20% of your total deadlift training volume. This allows you
to lift heavier weights and strengthen your weaknesses. Ensure your hips are dropped low
enough at the start; do not squat the weight up.
The Romanian deadlift is a deadlift variation performed at hip height that isolates the
hamstrings through an extended range of motion.
Let’s walk through the Romanian deadlift guide:
To perform this exercise:
● Begin standing with knees slightly bent, holding a barbell at hip height with a
● Initiate the movement by sitting your hips back while maintaining a neutral spine.
● Continue hinging at the hips, allowing the bar to travel down the front of your thighs
with your arms extended perpendicular to the floor.
● Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then reverse the motion by driving
your hips forward and standing upright.
● Do not round your lower back. Maintain a flat back posture throughout the
● Keep your core braced and knees slightly bent, but do not squat down at any point.
The benefits of the Romanian deadlift include:
● Heavy loading is placed directly on the hamstrings for strength.
● Extended range of motion with constant tension applied.
● Excellent hamstring and lower back exercise for bodybuilders.
● It teaches hip hinge movement patterns and strengthens spinal erectors.
● Can isolate hamstrings when recovering from injury.
Aim to include Romanian deadlifts in your training around twice per week after standard
deadlifts. Go lighter and focus on feeling the stretch and squeeze. This exercise will build
tremendous hamstring strength and size.
Practice mastering proper form through the entire range of motion in both the sumo and
Romanian variations. Record your sets and watch video tutorials as needed. Widening your
deadlift technique will provide new training stimulus and maximize your development.
Take Your Deadlift to the Next Level with These Advanced Tips
With regular practice, you can progress to lifting heavier and heavier weights on the deadlift.
For deadlift form improvement, integrate these advanced deadlifting tips into your setup and
Eliminate Slack in the Bar
Before initiating the pull, take the slack out of the bar by pulling up slightly. This engages
your lats and upper back muscles before lifting. Having a tighter upper back from the start
allows you to generate more power off the floor.
Maximize Leg Drive
Driving your feet hard into the floor is critical for deadlift power. Focus on spreading the floor
apart laterally to activate your glutes and outer thighs. Leg drive comes from pushing the
floor away, not just standing up.
Once you are in position, take a big breath, tighten up, and then pull the bar explosively to
engage your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Being dynamic generates more power than lifting
slowly. This is often called the “grip it and rip it” technique.
Look Straight Ahead
Pick a spot on the wall in front of you to stare at throughout the lift. Keep your neck neutral
and your eyes fixed forward. This will keep your chest up and reinforce a neutral spine
Chalk Up for Better Grip
As the weights get heavy, chalk improves grip strength and bar control dramatically. Apply
chalk thoroughly across your palms, fingers, and back of your hands before lifting. This dries
sweat and creates more friction with the bar.
Fire Your Glutes
Consciously contracting your glutes as hard as possible will ensure you finish the lift in a
strong position. Squeezing your glutes at the top locks out the hips and protects the lower
Breath and Brace
Take a big breath at the top, hold it, and brace your core as if you were about to be punched
in the gut. This increases intra-abdominal pressure to stabilize your spine under load.
Implement these advanced techniques during your warm-up sets for correcting deadlift
errors. Become comfortable using them before hitting your heavy work sets. With practice,
these tips will help you lift the most weight possible while minimizing injury risk.
Fix Common Deadlift Mistakes
Many form errors can be easily corrected with a few adjustments:
Problem: Rounding back
Fix: Chest up, take the slack out of the bar
Problem: Squatting the lift
Fix: Sit hips back more before lifting
Problem: Losing tightness
Fix: Brace core harder, keep upper back tight
Problem: Bar drifting forward
Fix: Bring hips forward faster off the floor
Pay attention to your form, filming yourself regularly. Identify any weaknesses holding you
back and practice corrections. Mastering techniques is a process that is very rewarding.
In this comprehensive deadlift technique guide, we covered proper setup, stance, grip, spinal
alignment, hip drive, and breathing. We broke down each phase of the pull step-by-step from
floor to lockout for you to master deadlift technique. Instructional videos demonstrated
proper form. Common mistakes were addressed, along with how to fix them. Sumo and
Romanian variations were explained as well.
Be patient and drop the weight while practicing form. Film your sets and compare them to
examples of proper technique. Mastering the deadlift form takes time and conscious effort.
But the payoff of injury-free, optimized training is immense.
Take the next step and get personalized deadlift coaching via my online training programs.
Or get my exercise course for more detailed lift instructions. Subscribe to AWG Fitness for
regular technique tips and workout plans.